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Border Security

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 7, 2019
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from North Carolina for yielding.

Let me just say, I spent the last several hours in a hearing in the Energy and Commerce Committee, a hearing called by the Democrats on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The hearing was evaluating the failures of the Trump administration on the child separation policy.

Let me just share with you some of the statements of the witnesses. These were pediatricians. These were ACLU lawyers. Statements like the Trump administration policy was intentionally hurtful, that it was an incredibly difficult position that people were in, that parents have a right to keep their children safe, and that this was nothing more than government-sanctioned child endangerment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to share a story with you. Just like Mr. Walker, I had a guest here at the State of the Union the other night when the President was here. My guest was Chris from Keller, Texas, and he sat up in the gallery right behind us here.

I met Chris probably a year and a half to 2 years ago. He came to see me one day, brought in, actually, by his mother. His mother was concerned because he had suffered an injustice in his life, and he was upset, and he couldn't get over it. He just needed to talk to someone, and a Member of Congress is the last person I can think of to talk to, but maybe it can help.

So Chris told me his story. I practiced medicine for 25 years, and I heard some sad stories. I have been in Congress for 15 years, and I have heard some sad stories. But I will tell you, this was the saddest story that I can recall ever having heard.

Chris was serving his country in Iraq. In fact, he was in Iraq in 2005 when they had the big election where everyone was going down the road with an ink-stained thumb, and he helped make that happen. He helped pull that off.

Chris continued his service in various forms and was in Iraq when he got word that his wife was ill. His wife was, as it turns out, very, very ill, and he had to come home. He cared for her for the last few months of her life before she succumbed to breast cancer.

He said he made her a promise right at the end of that illness that he would always, always, always take care of their daughter. Now Chris is a single dad. He has got an only child. The child was 12, 13 years old, the light of his life. Everything in Chris's life was wrapped up in his daughter.

His daughter came home one day and said she wanted to go spend the night at a friend's house, and Chris said no.

She said: Please, Daddy, you never let me do anything. Please let me go.

After multiple entreaties, Chris agreed. She could go over to this friend's house and spend the night.

At some point during the evening, the girls went out to a convenience store that was across the street. She drops her cellphone, goes back to retrieve it, and she was hit by a car. There were a number of cars coming down the street at that point. One was going faster than the others. All of the other cars stopped, but the car that hit Chrishia inflicted substantial injury upon her.

The driver of that vehicle did stop, and the police were called. The driver of that vehicle was in the country without the benefit of citizenship. So the driver of that car was taken down to the police station. Drug and alcohol tests were administered. A search of the records revealed a previous infraction with Customs and Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He had come into the country illegally before, so there was that. He had speeding tickets, and he had been arrested for driving without a license. In fact, this time the only citation that he received was driving without a license, and he was released after 35 minutes.

Chris came in to see me several months later, literally at the end of his rope. I will never forget as he told me this story and he looked at me with tears in his eyes.

He said: Congressman, I put on the uniform of my country. I served my country. I did my job. Mr. Congressman, if you had been doing your job, my daughter would be here today.

I have to tell you, as I was walking Chris back to where he could get a cab to his hotel after the State of the Union Address--we have actually corresponded on a fairly regular basis, and he is a very likeable individual--as we walked off the Hill to get to where he could catch a cab beyond the Capitol Police barrier, he said: I really have enjoyed meeting you, Congressman. You have been great to me.

I said: Chris, I would give anything if we had never met.

This is not a manufactured crisis. This is a real crisis affecting our citizens and our constituents. The people on the panel today were very concerned about the Trump administration's policy from last June. But this is not a new deal. There has been a problem on our Texas border, particularly in the lower Rio Grande sector for years. The previous administration had problems. The Clinton administration had problems. The Carter administration had problems. It is a difficult problem, and it does need to be solved.

President Trump has outlined a reasonable approach that, yes, includes sensors; yes, includes increased personnel; yes, includes all- weather roads in areas; and, yes, it does include a barrier. Without that, there cannot be success in securing our southern border, and as a consequence, our citizens cannot be safe and secure in their homes.

I thank the gentleman for providing the time tonight and leading this hour.

I hope Chris does get some measure of peace eventually, but, clearly, this is a problem that has affected a great many lives of people in our districts. I think we each can find someone in our district who has suffered from a similar loss.