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Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I thank you for that, and I appreciate your joining me here because, once again, you live in that State, your constituents know the fear that is taking place, Americans who live on that particular border, the danger that is down there. And, once again, this is not just an issue that will go away if the economy goes sour. These are the drug cartels. These are the human traffickers. These are the worst kinds of people, and we don't want them here. And as a country, if we're going to be a sovereign country, we have to control the border, if for no other reason than we have to be able to control the border. Whether the total number coming across is getting less or is increasing--we don't have definite figures yet--it doesn't matter. As long as one drug cartel is still coming across the border with illegal drugs, that's one too many, and we have to do something about it.
So I appreciate it very much, and I realize you have another obligation to go to. Thank you for coming down. You're welcome to stay if you would like to.
But he also added a premise into where we're going, because what is taking place, quite frankly, is the violence that is taking place on the Arizona border. We all know about Fast and Furious and what a silly idea this was, how ludicrous a program to arm the drug cartel and to find out that those arms they were given by the Federal Government are coming back to harm us. But along the border, we have had a specific row of people who have been not just harassed by the drug cartel but have been killed by the drug cartel.
Starting in 2002, Park Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed in the line of duty while pursuing a member of the Mexican drug cartel who had crossed the United States border into Organ Pipe National Monument, which is off limits to Americans. In 2008, Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar was killed in the line of duty after being hit by a vehicle that had crossed illegally into the United States through the Imperial Sand Dunes, which is BLM ground, where the Border Patrol has restrictions. What hurts me, as well, is Rob Krentz, a rancher, a multigenerational rancher, on his own property in Arizona.
See, Rob Krentz over there was actually out patrolling, going through his property. He had just had a hip replacement, was ready to have a knee replacement--or vice versa. He was on an ATV vehicle with his dog. He came across a group of illegals who were there--part of the cartel, again, is the assumption. Usually what happens is there is flight, but in this case there was no flight. He was not physically able to fly, and so what happened was both he and his dog were shot.
The one we assume did the shooting came across that wildlife refuge where the gate was locked to prohibit the Border Patrol from going in there and doing their job. Then we assume his exit back into Mexico was a circuitous route that went back out of his way so he could go back through that same area that was off limits to the Border Patrol from totally doing their job. He lost his life because of our policies that don't make sense.
December 10, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed--once again on Forest Service land--with guns that were obtained through the Fast and Furious program.
One of the other committees of our Congress has on their Web site the statement that a now-sealed Federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol Agent Terry says the cartel operatives were patrolling this rugged desert area with the intent of intentionally and forcibly assaulting Border Patrol agents. And it happened because we are not taking control of our border.
As sad as that is, this is still another look at the border. You know you're looking at the border because you can see the fence is still running along and the one road along the fence is still running along. Unfortunately, there's a gap in the fence. That gap is an endangered species habitat right-of-way so the species can go from one side of the border to the other. Unfortunately, I will tell you that it's not just an endangered species that goes from one side of the border to the other. That is endemic of the situation we have down there where our border policies, our land policies take precedence over border security. That is simply what we ought not or should not be doing.
Our solution is, I think, very simple. It's House bill 1505, the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. The simple answer of what this bill does is simply it allows the Federal Border Patrol to do on Federal property what it already can do on private property. It says our number one priority should be controlling our borders for stopping the drugs and the violence that is taking place in Arizona. This bill protects legal use of the land--such as mining and hunting and camping and fishing--in an effort to try and make sure that we can protect American property for American use, not for drug cartel use.
There were simpler versions of this that simply said you can't stop the Border Patrol from doing what they need to do to meet their needs. Unfortunately, some of the administration in these Departments laughed at us and said, That's not going to work. You can't tell us what won't happen. So we wrote the bill to be proactive and tell what the Border Patrol can do.
It also had to put in there specific--and this is, once again, from the Department of the Interior insisting it--we put down the specific environmental laws that can be abridged only for the purpose of protecting the border. It is the same list that was done about 5 years ago when the Department of the Interior insisted that as Congress we had to list specific environmental laws that could be broached in order to complete some of the fencing along our southern border. Same rules, same laws, same element so the Border Patrol can do their job. That's what it simply does.
There is one group that was opposed to it because they said the Border Patrol is found 15 to 20 miles north of the border. Yeah, their jurisdiction is up to 100 miles north of the border. They also said that surveillance status shows that there are nearly 8,000 miles--some estimate 20,000 miles--of illegal wildcat roads cutting through some of this border area. I want you to know it is not the Border Patrol--even though this group tried to blame the Border Patrol for these 20,000--if indeed it's that high--miles of illegal roads. They're not the ones creating that. It is the drug cartels that are cutting roads through our habitat, through wilderness areas so that they can use them for their drug-smuggling activities.
If you go down there, you can simply see on the ground where these trails are. If you fly above it, you can see where they are. If you go up to the high points, you can see where their nests are. So you can see very clearly and very easily where they have their lookout spots.
Actually, I went to one of those. It was just over the border into Mexico. I was actually unimpressed because I found out that amongst the things they were leaving behind in the trash is they drank only Diet Coke.
If they had done Dr. Pepper, I would have been impressed by their taste, but it was only Diet Coke.
I have also heard all sorts of rumors about what we are trying to do with this bill, trying to make sure that this border is secure so Americans can go back into American property and be secure. I have heard rumors that we are trying to limit public access. That's not true. What we are trying do is make public access safe. That's the job of the government is to make our borders secure.
I have been told that this is a simple land grab. Some groups out there who simply don't understand what's going on tried to label this as a giant land grab. I don't know how you can call it a land grab when the Federal Government is simply trying to allow the Border Patrol to do its job on Federal land. We're not expending any more power or opportunity to the Border Patrol. We're simply saying Federal land should not stop them from doing their job. There are some that will simply say, well, if we ignore this, it will simply go away. This problem is not going to go away. It is too deep; it is too severe to simply go way.
There is one last reason why this approach is extremely important, and I'm saying this in conclusion. As I said in the beginning, almost every town hall meeting that I have they talk about immigration. Immigration issues are complex. Sometimes they are going to be complicated and will require compromise and consideration. Right now out there there's a great deal of anger and anxiety in a lot of people simply because we are not controlling our borders and American lands are not safe, and there is too much violence taking place. And it's simply wrong to prohibit our Border Patrol in favor of allowing the drug cartels and those doing human trafficking to have free access into this country.
If indeed we are serious about long-term immigration, the first thing you have to do is reduce the anger and reduce the anxiety level. The first way to do that is to be able to look at the American people with a clear conscience and in truth, look them in the eye and say our borders are secure. We control who comes into this country and who does not come into this country because that is what a sovereign Nation does.
Our hope is that we can pass this bill and take the first step to controlling the border, which is simply to allow the Border Patrol access to where the Border Patrol needs to be, to give them the same opportunity on public lands that they have on private lands. Because it is very clear, Border Patrol knows what they are doing. They are doing a good job.
Where they are allowed the freedom and flexibility to do their jobs, the issue of illegal immigration and illegal entry into this country of all kinds, but especially illegal entry into this country by the bad guys who are trying to put illegal drugs and other kinds of crimes and bring them into this country, where they are allowed to do their job, they are successful.
What we have to do is now look on Federal property where the Federal rules prohibit the Border Patrol from doing their job and change that, simply allow them to do their job. House bill 1505 does that. Until we do that, we will never move forward into a larger solution to our immigration problem. And we will continue to have illegal drugs and other kinds of crimes against humanity taking place on American soil, and it will not stop. That's why this bill is so important.
With that, Mr. Speaker, with gratitude for allowing me this moment to go through this particular issue, I yield back the balance of my time.
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