Secure the Border Act of 2023

Floor Speech

Date: May 10, 2023
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Mississippi for yielding.

I happen to represent every border community and every port of entry along the Arizona-Mexico border. It is my home, where I grew up, and that is where I live. That is where I have lived, in those borderlands.

I don't need a photo op tour for me to understand, to feel, and to respect the fact that these communities and this area of our Nation have been left behind not just by policy but by intent.

H.R. 2 is not serious legislation to address our urgent need to fix our broken immigration system, to respond to the pending humanitarian crisis on our border, and to combat the deadly flow of fentanyl and human exploitation by organized crime syndicates. It won't do that.

What H.R. 2 will do?

It will devastate our affordable food supply by eliminating up to half the workforce in agriculture, farming, and ranching.

It will dramatically increase the economic hardship of border communities and the borderlands.

It will fund the Trump memorial wall, a piece of useless government waste.

It will demonize children and unaccompanied youth.

It will provide Republicans with fundraising tools, and it will also provide them with the means to create division, fear, and chaos in preparation for the 2024 elections.

My Republican colleagues hope that voters will overlook the growing extremism and their failure to deal with real issues in this Congress, one of them being immigration.

The lifting of title 42 challenges Republicans in this House to do more than political posturing. Indeed, it challenges the Biden administration not to allow the pending humanitarian crisis to become desperate and punitive.

I want to also take a little historic look and remind the body of the schizophrenic, anti-immigrant underpinnings of H.R. 2. The echoes of past immigration debates in this Chamber are with us today, and let me quote from the Congressional Record.

In 1884, Congressman Henley of California spoke on the floor of the need to preserve a White man's government from dark and yellow-skinned people.

In 1924, Congressman Wilson of Louisiana said: ``Two things are certain. One is that America cannot exist with a large percentage of mongrel communities with discordant views and aspirations.''

That same year, Representative Robsion of Kentucky said: ``Let us send out the slackers and undesirables. Let us clean up America and keep America clean,'' for the real Americans and for the real country.

I mention those historical realities and facts from previous debates to underline the point that H.R. 2 must not be a means to grow the worst nativist impulses that we might have in this Congress or to accept ethnic and racial prejudices.

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Mr. GRIJALVA. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Thompson for yielding me time.

All to further hardship and accept ethnic and racial prejudices as criteria in our immigration laws and policies, bringing to life those echoes of the past.

The values and the common ground that must be found in order to effectively deal with the issue of immigration, with the issue of asylum seekers and refuge seekers, requires real solutions. It requires humanitarian relief, but it also requires an enforcement focus that deals with the issues that have been talked about by the other side: fentanyl, drug running, and human exploitation.

It also requires that all of us in Congress, and particularly those who represent the borderlands, be included in those discussions to the point that we can bring the real voices, the real impulses, and the real needs of those communities.

H.R. 2 must be defeated because it is against our values, and it promotes a mythology that everything that happens on that southern border is bad, unhealthy, criminal, and un-American.

That is wrong. Vote ``no'' on H.R. 2.

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