Reopen the Government

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 10, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday night, there was a prime-time television speech from the Oval Office, which appealed to fear, prejudice, and anger. The argument was for a border wall by stereotyping and demonizing people coming to America seeking asylum, safety, and refuge from the violence caused by the war on drugs this administration is escalating in Central and South America.

With provocative anecdotes about violence and fear-mongering rhetoric, he used the word ``illegal'' 12 times throughout the entire speech, which was undertaken amidst what is shaping up to be the longest government shutdown in the Nation's history. Never once did he mention the Federal workers who won't receive a paycheck this week--not once.

His purpose was to create a state of anxiety about our national security in an effort to convince Republican Members of Congress and the American people to stay with him on his narcissistic quest for billions of dollars to build his big, beautiful wall that he promised Mexico would pay for, but now he is demanding that the American people pay for it. That doesn't add up, ladies and gentlemen.

What is not understood is that we are not a country that cowers or bends in dread to a hostage taker. To quote President Truman: ``America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.''

The job at hand for this President right now, and for this Congress, is to reopen the government. Then we can all go to work to address skyrocketing drug prices and ensure affordable healthcare.

For the people, we must go to work creating high-wage jobs and fixing our Nation's decaying infrastructure. For our children and our grandchildren, we must build a greener economy and prioritize protecting our planet. These are meaningful and worthy goals. Our job is not to waste billions on an ineffective border wall while spreading xenophobic lies.

Numerous disingenuous statistics were used the other night to back up his claims of a crisis. Here are some statistics, based on facts, to clarify the falsehoods perpetuated on the American people in that Oval Office speech:

One, the truth is that immigration from the southern border has significantly decreased in the last 10 years, disproving what was said. This gentleman wants us to think that this Nation is being overrun. In 2006, there were more than 1 million unauthorized immigrants apprehended at the southern border, but, in 2018, there were less than 400,000.

Two, immigration does not strain our economy and public resources. In fact, immigrants added an estimated $2 trillion to the United States GDP in 2016. Additionally, unauthorized immigrants contributed significantly to Medicare and Social Security. From 2000 to 2011, they contributed $35.1 billion more to Medicare than they withdrew.

Finally, of the 361,993 unauthorized immigrants apprehended by September of fiscal year 2018, less than 1 percent had a violent criminal record. Studies have also proven that immigrants do not increase local crime rates, and they are less likely to cause crime or be incarcerated as our citizens.

President Trump's border wall concept was not created by law enforcement specialists, and his justification for wasting taxpayer money on a wall is not based on sound argument. This idea began where most of the President's ideas are born, and that is on the campaign trail. It is an idea unworthy of consideration from Congress. Our constituents and our country deserve better.

Trump has built his political career by demonizing and stereotyping many different groups of people. His speech Tuesday night was no different.

We, as Americans, cannot fall prey to his fear-mongering, and we cannot allow President Trump to hold Federal workers hostage. Let's go to work and reopen this government now.