Immigration and Illegal Aliens are More a Burden than a Blessing - Floor Speech Of Congressman Billyoung Before The U.s. House Ofrepresentatives In Support Ofimmigration In The National Interestact Of 1995 (h.r. 2202), March 21, 1996
immigrants past florida borders
Mr. Chairman, the problem of illegal immigration has reached historic proportions. Past attempts by Congress to reform immigration laws have provided nothing more than greater incentives and promised benefits for illegal aliens. The result is the present system which actually encourages immigrants to come to America illegally.
Today, I am proud to support an historic change in our Nation's immigration policy. Today, we are going to pass a reform bill with real teeth in it. A bill that cracks down on illegal immigrants already here, and one that secures our borders against future immigrants who would seek to enter illegally. Past legislation this House has considered, which I strongly opposed, did nothing to alleviate the problems of illegal immigration. At long last, I look forward to supporting a bill which acknowledges these problems and takes action to address them.
While past legislation sent the message you could come to the U.S. illegally and expect to receive welfare benefits, food stamps and free health care, this legislation finally puts an end to this outrage. As a Member from the State of Florida, I have seen first-hand the financial burden these ill-gotten attempts at reform have placed on States forced to bear the brunt of this failed immigration policy. Past Congresses refused to stop the excessive flow of illegal immigrants and to eliminate the enormous costs associated with this broken system. Today, we ownup to our responsibilities with a hard-nosed approach that substantially increases border control, provides the Immigration and Naturalization Service with the tools necessary to find and deport illegal aliens, and pays for the Federal Government's financial obligations to the States.
Mr. Chairman, my State of Florida has long been overburdened by the flood of illegal immigration. Since the Mariel boatlift in 1980, we have been the destination of a disproportionate number of immigrants, making us the third-largest recipient of immigrants among our fifty States. Although immigration policy is the sole jurisdiction of the United States Government, history has proven that states like Florida are typically left with the cost and responsibility of providing expensive social services to illegal aliens.
With the enactment of H.R. 2202, we have an opportunity to minimize the enormous expenses that we force upon our States by denying most public benefits to illegal aliens, removing public charges, and holding sponsors personally responsible for the financial well-being of an immigrant they bring into our country. Most importantly, this bill requires the Federal Government to reimburse States and localities for any expenses incurred from providing federally mandated services to illegal immigrants. Based upon various formulas, it is estimated that the State of Florida has spent an average of $651 million per year from 1989–1993, or a total of $3.25 billion for services provided to illegal immigrants. If the costs to local governments are included, the total burden rises to $15 billion for that same five-year period.
Unlike past immigration reform bills, H.R. 2202 will actually discourage the illegal entry of immigrants by increasing our border control agents by 5,000 personnel, improving physical barriers along our borders, including a triple-layer fence, authorizing advanced border equipment to be used by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and instituting an effective removal process to discharge illegal immigrants with no documentation. This bill provides the Department of Justice with twenty-five new U.S. Attorneys General and authorizes 350 new INS inspectors to investigate and prosecute aliens and alien smugglers.
This bill also strongly supports the American worker by cracking down on the use of fraudulent documents that illegal immigrants use to get American jobs and by enforcing strict penalties for employers who knowingly violate these laws. The Department of Labor has authorized 150 new investigators to enforce the bill's labor provisions barring the employment of illegal aliens.
Mr. Chairman, the American people demand that Congress take action to secure our borders against illegal immigrants. With the explosion in the amount of drugs and criminals coming across our borders, and with the flood of illegal immigrants, many of whom settle in Florida, it is eminently important that we do all we can to protect our national borders.
While past Congresses refused to address this national crisis, today we deliver, with a much needed and long overdue first step in this renewed effort. Today we will approve legislation with unprecedented prevention and enforcement mechanisms. The message to illegal aliens is no longer one of indifference. The new message is simple—try to enter the United States illegally and we will stop you, should you get in, we will find and deport you, and should you remain in hiding, don't expect much in the way of support.