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‘Amnesty is not the answer’

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)

By Rep. Ted Poe

[Editor’s note: Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House on March 22, 2010.]

   Once again, there's a new push for an amnesty bill to pass this Congress. Yesterday, tens of thousands of people marched in Washington, D.C., wanting amnesty. And it was interesting. As I looked over this very peaceful crowd and all those people marching, I wondered why there were no American flags.

   In any event, amnesty is not the answer. Even the talk of amnesty causes a flood of people to come across our southern border. Amnesty is no answer to the problem because the problem is the lack of border security. The violence is already out of control in the border region. Thousands more people illegally crossing the border will make an already dangerous situation a much worse disaster, so we have to start with the basics.

   First, we must secure the border. We must start with securing the border from the criminal enterprises, including the drug cartels. Just over a week ago, an American consulate employee and his wife were murdered in Juarez, Mexico. Lesley Enriquez, 35, and her husband, Arthur Redelfs, 34, were murdered in a drive-by shooting near the Santa Fe Bridge. The husband of another U.S. consulate employee was also gunned down on the Mexican side of the border.

   Murders and kidnappings have caused the closing of the U.S. Embassy in Reynosa until further notice. The U.S. State Department is now rushing to relocate consulate employees in Juarez, Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, and Matamoros, all because of the violence on the border and the kidnappings. Shoot-outs in the streets have killed thousands of people, mostly Mexican nationals.

   The drug cartels are fighting each other and fighting law enforcement for control over the lucrative drug routes into the United States. Good people from both sides of the border are being placed in harm's way by these murderous thugs. Even an armed Mexican military helicopter intruded into the United States airspace in Zapata County, Texas. The intentions of this incursion are still unknown.

   Over a year ago, Texas Governor Rick Perry asked for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for a thousand troops at the border to help with the increasing violence and to prevent the drug cartels from entering the United States. The Governor has asked for more Predator drones for increased surveillance. He was trying to head off this escalation of violence that has occurred recently. The help he requested has never come, and the Governor's request for more troops and drones at the border has been ignored for over a year.

   In response to the murders of these Americans, Governor Perry again eventually asked for help. He asked for surveillance planes and a thousand fresh troops at the Texas border with Mexico to help stem the violence. Secretary Napolitano said she would ``look at'' the request, but she thinks there's already enough troops on the border. So Governor Perry has decided he can't wait around on the Federal Government, even though it's the Federal Government's responsibility to secure our borders. He's ordered Texas National Guard helicopters to the border to support law enforcement that is on the border already. They're trying to fight the border violence spillover into the United States.

   Texas military forces have requested and obtained OH-58 Kiowa and UH-72 Lakota helicopters to be used to fly up and down the Texas-Mexico border along the Rio Grande River from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas. Of course, their number and exact location will not be disclosed for security purposes.

   I've had the opportunity to be on the Texas-Mexico border with our Texas Air National Guard and fly up and down that region to see firsthand the problem of the incursions into the United States, all because the border is not secure. I would hope our Federal Government would support the Governor's actions.

   The Federal Government should actually do something to stop the violence and secure the border. It is the first responsibility of government to protect the people, and that includes the people who live along other international borders. We should send more troops. The violence is getting worse every day. Our border sheriffs and law enforcement are outmanned, outfinanced, and they're outgunned, but they're doing everything they can to protect the citizens along the Texas-Mexico border from the violent drug cartels that have come into the United States.

   Every single county and city and town along the border needs help in the border war. It is irresponsible to leave these people defenseless. Once again, it affects good people on both sides of the border, Mexicans and Americans as well.

   Cartels are waging war on our border. People are not only sneaking across into the United States, they're shooting their way into our country. The violence is exploding into America's border communities. So it's time to put an end to this madness, send sufficient troops to the border, and uphold the national responsibility to protect the citizens of this United States.

   And that's just the way it is.


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