The Impact of A Porous Border
Mr. SCHWEIKERT. Mr. Speaker, one of my reasons for coming and taking some of this time this evening was around a frustration I have had, and I think this may be for a lot of us who are from a border State, who have been watching both the press and a lot of our brothers and sisters around this place speechify about immigration, about the border crisis, and what is happening. If you are actually from Arizona, this isn't a new issue for us. We have been bathing and living this for decades now.
I had that moment this last week, Mr. Speaker, where I realized maybe the awareness in this body is starting to change to understand the impact of a porous border and what it means to communities.
When I had one of my friends here from the Midwest come up to me and ask me a number of questions because he had held a townhall--and it was the first time he had had to face barrages of questions about immigration, about the unaccompanied minors, about the populations coming across the border, what were the potential threats, the disease, the drugs--then I realized maybe I have partially had a misunderstanding because, when I go home, the border is one of the key questions we talk about because of the effects it has had on my home State, in regards to education, incarceration, health care, and the amount of the burden that my citizens in Arizona, my taxpayers, have had to take on that ultimately were the responsibility of this Federal Government.
I wanted to go through just a handful things, a couple of numbers that we have found, talk about some of the mechanics that may be coming at us tomorrow. I know many of us are going to have some different views on legislation, where it takes us, but I want to get some of the record straight here.
Do you remember, over the last 3, 4 years, particularly before the 2012 Presidential race, we kept hearing how secure the border was? I remember my former Governor, Janet Napolitano, giving a speech telling us that the border is more secure today than ever before.
Do you remember the rhetoric that the President was bathing in, in early 2012, allowing himself to be called the ``deporter in chief''?
Well, Mr. Speaker, as we later found out--and we found out sort of when many of the Democrat base activists started believing it and started protesting the President, saying: How can our Democratic President be the deporter in chief?
All of a sudden, the truth came out, and we found out that the Obama administration had manipulated the way they calculate the numbers.
The previous administration, if you were a Mexican national--and this is for the southern border--if you had been arrested within a couple miles of the border, you were captured, taken back, and released back over the border, then that did not count in the deportation numbers. This President very conveniently apparently allowed them to redefine the math.
There becomes one of our great frustrations. We have debates here on this floor, and we realized how manipulated so much of the math is, some of the underlying statistics that we will come down here and quote, and we are holding the data, and we realize that we have we got conned. We got played.
Mr. Speaker, if you are going to build public policy, and I don't care if you are on the left or the right, you have to have an administration that is willing to play the data straight. If you are going to make public policy on public data, give us honest data.
That becomes one of our great frustrations, Mr. Speaker, because I will even have my hometown newspaper quote numbers that we found out months ago weren't correct, were manipulated. They redefined the math. So just keep that in mind.
Just something that came across my desk just before I was walking over here, one of my county sheriffs--and you have to understand, in Arizona, we have only 15 counties--our counties are big, but Arizona is a small State relative to the rest of the country.
We are also the most urbanized State in the country, something that most people don't understand. Most of our population lives in Maricopa County and then the Tucson area.
So think, Arizona is the most urbanized State because the Federal Government controls the vast majority of our land. It is also why you have these incredible opportunities of a porous border because you have distances where there is no civilization.
Our Pinal County sheriff was on the radio, apparently, today and had a quote that we have had 123,000 illegals arrested in the Tucson sector. I am assuming that is over this last calendar year.
I haven't been able to get a response on that one, but think about that. Right now, so much of the national attention is the discussion of what is happening along the Rio Grande, in Texas. Don't forget Arizona. Don't forget what is going on in our State for so many years.
I had an economics professor years ago, that we had actually had this discussion of if you were ever to try to truly understand the math and how porous a border is, how would you build an economic model to truly understand it?
He had this brilliant idea, and it still rings in the back of my head because, multiple times, we have had this discussion of if we were going to build a border enforcement bill before allowing anything else to move in this body, do you have the border State Governors be the ones to declare the border secure?
Well, do you really want to put that type of political pressure on my Governor in Arizona, the Governor of New Mexico, small States where, let's face it, some of the activist groups with their budgets could manipulate our Governor's races, our elections? So what would be an honest economic method?
My old professor had this one thing: look at the price of drugs on the street, look at the price of certain types of labor; but he liked the drug calculation because if illegal drugs that are being sourced in other parts of the world and the price stays stable or is actually going down on the streets across the country, particularly in communities like Phoenix, which is often a distribution center, you actually have an economic model to understand if the border is truly secure.
Mr. Speaker, in conversations I have had with some law enforcement over the last year, apparently, a lot of the illegal drug prices on the streets in my community are stable or going down; but, yet, I had a President who is willing to stand behind microphones--I had the head of Homeland Security willing to stand behind microphones and declare the border more secure than ever, but the underlying fact is, now, we know we weren't being told the truth.
On occasion, we will go home, and we will hold townhall meetings and discussion groups in the chambers, and some of the activist groups will come and sit down with us and say: Why won't you do this? Why won't you do that? Why won't you accept the Gang of Eight bill? Why won't you do this?
You turn and say: How would you hand that type of policy, that type of legislation to this administration? Do you really trust them? Do you really trust the Obama administration to keep its word? Do you really trust the Obama administration not to play games with the math? Because we already have multiple occasions here where I can demonstrate to you the math has been played you with.
So then I wanted to chase after something else that we came across. How many speeches here, how many discussions, how many press conferences, how many talking heads on evening cable have we seen over the last month saying, oh, the unaccompanied minor issue, well, was a surprise to all of us, we never expected this, if we had just known--which is an amazing thing because I have a few documents here, and they are budget documents, and we all know what goes into starting to model and build budgets.
Here is one. It is a newsletter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and it was talking about some of the Catholic services. They do wonderful work. They do it at some great prices. But this was a newsletter from last November, so November 2013. On that one, the Department of Homeland Security estimates more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors could enter the United States in 2014. It was out there in writing.
Then we came across some other things that we found very interesting. Here is actually from 4-13, so over a year ago, a number of budget line items for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services in regards to unaccompanied minors. The original 2014 budget request they had been working on earlier was going to be $494 million, and somehow on 4-13, so well over a year ago, they knew something was wrong and they added another $373 million to that budget line item. Yet earlier today, I watched a Member of the other side get behind a microphone and tell me how surprised they were.
So let me pull what we voted for last January. Unaccompanied alien children, line item, and this was woven into the continuing resolution we did last January, so you know the numbers were worked up months before that. We went from the 2013 estimate, $376 million, to $868 million. That is what we pushed out of here in January.
So back to that whole trust conversation, as we put forward policy in dealing with our crisis on our border, don't forget States like Arizona that have had to take this on for years and had to carry the burden of the cost as those here in the Federal Government, here in this bubble that is Washington, D.C., looked at a small State like Arizona and said: Stop making so much noise; you are bothering us. Stop telling us one thing in your speeches, but we can find documents that show your staff knew something very different.
Tomorrow we will have a piece of legislation to step up and deal with parts of the border crisis. It is not a half a loaf. It is not a quarter of a loaf. It is not an eighth of a loaf. It is sort of the heel of the loaf. But for those of us in Arizona, I believe it does a handful of things that we have been demanding.
I have a piece of legislation to put 10,000 National Guard troops on the border, and I had a little fun with a couple of Members who have been here for a long time. I had one Member who has been here for a long time, and she was just outraged that we would want to put that many troops on the border. So I said: But you supported this in 2006 and 2008 when we had Operation Jump Start, and I think at that time we put 7,000 National Guard troops on the border as auxiliary services to the Border Patrol.
So think of that, 2006 to 2008, who controlled this body? It was the Democrats. We had a Republican President, and Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker here. And it is fascinating, now we are a few years later, that formula has flipped. We are proposing it, and the very people who supported it a few years ago now are just appalled. The duplicity around this place sometimes is stunning.
One of the things that I support that will be voted on tomorrow, it is not just putting National Guard troops, if our Governor so will; there will be money behind it, the ability to pay for it. One more time asking States like Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, that if you are going to step up and take these responsibilities that belong to the Federal Government, you need to cover our costs. I don't think it is enough money that is in the bill, but remember, this is short term. What is going to run tomorrow is actually only between now and the end of the fiscal year, which is the end of September.
Updating the 2008 language, we have heard a lot of discussion about this. The reality of it is we have a White House, Department of Homeland Security, I believe, that has already been manipulating the actual language. If you sit down and read it, it had to do with those who were being exploited and being brought across the border, trafficked. This is a little different mechanically than someone who goes out and hires a coyote or a family who takes their children and hires the services.
But nevertheless, we have been told over and over, if we don't update the 2008 law, our hands are tied by so many of our law enforcement on the border. So we are going to do that.
There are a couple of other mechanics here, but I want to make it perfectly clear for many of us--and hopefully I am speaking for many of my supporters and friends and family and my State--this isn't enough. It may be just the beginning.
I do hope we get the chance to discuss the one issue here that continues to be a bit of friction. The President's deferred action, many of our friends on the left keep trying to tell us that that had nothing to do with what we are seeing at the border, but as we have already just walked through the documents, once the deferred action, referred to as DACA, had gone into effect, they knew the numbers were coming. They were calculating. We now have some charts that much of this crisis was being watched for months. It finally just became overwhelming.
Illegal immigration--and legal immigration--work on incentives and disincentives. We have created incentives. This President has created incentives to break our laws, and until we step up with a number of policies that change those incentives, I believe we are partially chasing our tail here. We will do some good things. We need to step up the quality of our law enforcement and our border enforcement, but we also need an administration that we can trust, an administration that will tell us the truth, and an administration that will actually follow our laws.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.