Secure the Border Act of 2023

Floor Speech

Date: May 10, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that most of my life I have lived on both sides of the border, and since taking over my subcommittee this year, in the last 4 months, I have gone to Laredo, Brownsville, Yuma, El Centro, San Ysidro, Otay; and just Monday, Otay, Tijuana, Mexico.

I am doing this because I think it is important that we leave Washington and go and ask the border agents, go ask the port authorities what is going on, tell me what they need.

I saw these men and women in blue uniforms at our ports of entry. They are very proud of their work. They said: Lou, look, this is 99 percent of the trade we have, the integration of the North American markets. We are making it happen thanks to the investments by Congress in personnel, technology, and infrastructure.

Then they said: But we have to keep out that 1 percent, that fentanyl, those narcotics. They proudly said: We here at the ports of entry are responsible for stopping over 90 percent of the fentanyl that comes into this country.

I asked them, of course: What do you need to do your job better?

They said: We are looking to you in Washington for more support. We are 2,400 personnel down, CBP agents. They said the proposals here by my colleagues on the other side do nothing to support the additional hiring of men and women in blue uniforms. Those blue uniforms are responsible for stopping over 90 percent of the fentanyl that is coming across the border.

I proposed amendments to this legislation for better pay, retention, childcare for those workers that have to do forced overtime. All of my amendments were turned down.

If we are serious about stopping fentanyl, we have to invest more in those blue uniforms, and this legislation does absolutely nothing to do that.

Let's be frank here. I have also gone to farmers and small businesses in my district, and they are also very scared. They are scared of becoming criminals. You put in a mandatory E-Verify, and every one of those farmers who employ undocumented farmworkers is going to be criminalized. Every one of those small businesses in my district that are calling me and saying, ``Lou, we need immigration reform,'' will also become criminals because they employ undocumented.

We seem to forget we have a 3.6 percent unemployment rate in this country. Those folks that are coming across the border are disappearing into the fabric of our economic society. They are getting jobs. They are working. They are part of our fabric.

Unless we have immigration reform, unless we have a way to get workers into this country that is teamed up with some of these proposals, it is not going to work. At the end of the day, the private sector that needs workers, folks that need a job will figure out how to make it work.


Mr. CORREA. Mr. Speaker, this bill is not enough. This bill is not about creating a solution. It is simply messaging.

This bill is not addressing the fentanyl problem. The best investments are where it will be stopped at the border.

The bill is not addressing the employment issue. In every sector of our economy, in every State of our Union, we need workers. We don't need to criminalize, make employers criminals for trying to hire somebody to harvest this crop.