Mrs. CHRISTENSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support H. Res. 1030 to express a sense of the House of Representatives that the United States Border Patrol is performing an invaluable service to the United States, and that the House of Representatives fully supports the more than 12,000 Border Patrol agents. As a member of the Committee on Homeland Security, I know well the important role the Border Patrol plays in defending and protecting our homeland from foreign threats.
I strongly support this resolution because Border Security is an issue of utmost importance to my district the U.S. Virgin Islands and have in the past, proposed legislations to require the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, to establish a Border Patrol Unit in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The security of the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the mainland residents is greatly compromised. The U.S. V.I. contains over 175 miles of open unprotected borders which provides a viable alternative for terrorists, human smugglers and drug smugglers to [Page: H7445]
gain access to the U.S. mainland because we are only 1,600 kilometers away from the U.S mainland.
Since 1998 Mr. Speaker, close to 1000 Chinese nationals have entered the U.S. Virgin Islands to transit undetectably into the mainland. These landings have occurred mainly during the pre-dawn hours at one of the several cays on the Island of St. John. The shear number of individuals who are able to infiltrate the island is indicia of vulnerability to a possible terrorist attack.
The lack of a Border Patrol Security Unit, has placed an unreasonable burden on other Federal agencies such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, which has to now spend considerable amount of man-hours apprehending, processing and detaining aliens in custody. This detracts from the time ICE would have to carryout its investigatory duties.
Just last month, there was an article published in the Economist Magazine describing the V.S. V.I as ``America's most vulnerable point, a lovely place'' but ``woefully unprepared for a terrorist attack.'' The article points out that ``illegal aliens land in the Virgin Islands openly and regularly, yet they are rarely caught.'' Having a Border Patrol unit in the Virgin Islands, Mr. Speaker, will not only greatly enhance the security of the Virgin Islands, but the entire Nation as well.
I urge my colleagues to support H. Res. 1030.
Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on this legislation and insert extraneous material on the bill.
Mr. ROGERS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, as a strong supporter of this resolution, I further ask unanimous consent that the sponsor of this legislation, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones), be allowed to control the time in support of H. Res. 1030.
Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Alabama and because the resolution is short, I would like to read the remainder of the resolution and then make my comments and yield time to those who would like to speak.
To continue as the Reading Clerk read:
``Whereas Border Patrol agents are a highly trained and qualified group of men and women;
``Whereas Border Patrol agents protect the United States from an influx of illegal immigration, illicit drugs, counterfeit goods, and terrorists;
``Whereas Border Patrol agents protect our borders in some of the most remote and dangerous areas of the country; and
``Whereas Border Patrol agents continue to perform their duties under tough circumstances: Now, therefore, be it
``Resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the men and women of the United States Border Patrol should be supported for their dedication to the United States and to their mission to secure our borders.''
Mr. Speaker, the reason I wanted to come forward with this resolution, and I know that certainly Ms. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE from Texas and others in the other party as well as my own party, we have been very concerned about two Border Patrol agents, Mr. Ramos and also Mr. Compean, two Border Patrol agents that joined their colleagues, over 12,000 Border Patrol agents, who I think, in my humble opinion, have a very, very difficult job. I would compare their job, quite frankly, to our men and
women in uniform overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq, because they are trying to protect the borders of those citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan and we are trying to protect the borders of the American citizen.
Mr. Compean and Mr. Ramos I have had the opportunity to talk with by telephone, and I talked to their attorneys. These men were doing their job to protect the American citizen in Texas. And a drug smuggler from Mexico was trying to flee the United States, and in his van he had over 700 pounds of marijuana. These men stopped him. There was a confrontation that took place. The drug smuggler started across the border. There were shots fired, and he was hit in the buttocks as he was trying to cross
Since that time, Mr. Speaker, these two men have been found guilty in a court of law. They have the possibility of spending 20 years in a Federal pen.
I hate to say this, but the U.S. Attorney gave immunity to the drug smuggler, who still had indictments over his head here in this country. He was given immunity; and these two men, who have families, are now financially broke from trying to defend their honor and the fact that they did their job for the Border Patrol.
I felt that it was important tonight, and I know my colleagues do, which some will be speaking later, that so many times there are law enforcement all over this Nation as well as our men and women in uniform that do a very, very invaluable job for this country. They ask nothing but to be respected for the tough job that they do. Whether it is the military or the Border Patrol or law enforcement, the pay never meets the requirements that we ask of those individuals; and tonight I felt that it
was important to put this resolution in.
This resolution will not have to go to the Senate, by the way. This will be a resolution of the Members of the House of Representatives that are not speaking to the charges and the penalty of Compean and Ramos, but we will be saying to the Border Patrol of this country you are appreciated by the House of Representatives. We know you have a very difficult and tough job.
Because, Mr. Speaker, we are not only talking about people who come to this country illegally, between 8,000 and 10,000 every week that come across the border illegally. We are talking about the possibility of terrorists. I have said many times on the floor of this House that I am more concerned about terrorism coming from Central and South America than I am coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, quite frankly. And these are the men and women who are in the remote areas of America trying to defend
the borders to protect the American citizen.
So I am pleased tonight to say that we will have a chance tonight, or tomorrow, I guess, to vote on this resolution to say to those in the United States Border Patrol, we appreciate you. You are doing a very valuable job, a very important job for this country.
I live in North Carolina. I do not have Border Patrol in my State, but I do appreciate those that are on the border in the Southwest and other parts of the United States.
So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 1030, legislation honoring the United States Border Patrol. Without a doubt, the United States Border Patrol provides a critical service to this Nation. We rely on them to be highly trained, to be very qualified, to carry out the challenging and important job of securing our Nation's borders. And not just at the Southern border, like what we have in California.
But I was recently at a hearing that we had up in Seattle to talk about the issues going on at our northern border; and, of course, our Border Patrol was there. And the issues that they have, the things that they confront are vast, and it is such a difficult, difficult job to do.
So we really do want to honor and let them know, as the House of Representatives, that we understand that their jobs are done in difficult conditions, in the desert, forest, and with professionalism and with unfailing dedication.
So I support the work that the United States Border Patrol is doing. And for that reason I think that we should not only honor them with words but also provide our Border Patrol agents with the resources that they need to do their job.
As I said, when I was up in Seattle, one of the things we kept hearing over and over from the Border Patrol is that they need more resources. They need more people at the borders. They need more technology at the borders.
In the 9/11 Act, Congress promised to increase the numbers of Border Patrol agents, of immigration agents and of the detention beds that we need when we get these people who are coming without the right documents and that we would also provide state-of-the-art technology to help the Border Patrol actually secure the borders. But, unfortunately, time after time after time in this House, that has been voted down. We have not lived up to the promise, and the Border Patrol remains understaffed and
without access to necessary space and equipment that they need.
So I expect that this House Resolution 1030 will receive broad bipartisan support. I can't imagine too many people who would vote against it, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues who cast this vote to actually fulfill the promise of this vote, and that would be to give the much-needed resources to the United States Border Patrol.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of House Resolution 1030.
Let me just note that platitudes are not enough. When it really counts, the Border Patrol does need our support, and that includes building a fence, which some people who perhaps would be happy to sing the praises of the Border Patrol are not willing to help them with something that they consider to be essential to securing their job.
Tonight, we are commending the service of 12,000 men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol. They are, in fact, performing an invaluable service on our border, putting their lives on the line daily to protect us, all of us.
They are protecting us from the effects of illegal immigration which are being felt in my State dramatically. They are protecting us from drug smugglers, human traffickers, and, yes, terrorists.
Yet, as we declare our support today for these brave people who have been protecting us, we should note that this administration, that this administration's U.S. Attorney's Office has targeted two U.S. Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has destroyed their careers and destroyed their lives and thrown their families into turmoil. This administration, which has a questionable record on border security, has decided to throw the book at these two agents seeking the harshest possible punishment. What for? For procedural violations that should have only resulted in a reprimand and this now has been turned into felonies by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
To say that Ramos and Compean have been treated unjustly and unfairly is an understatement. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Attorney's Office has granted immunity to the Mexican drug dealer, the smuggler who these two officers intercepted. This criminal alien was caught with 743 pounds of marijuana, and the U.S. Attorney's Office has treated this criminal as if he were a victim.
At the same time, the book was thrown at our border patrol agents. I will submit for the RECORD, Mr. Speaker, my letter to the Attorney General regarding this outrageous case. The brutal treatment of the two border guards has demoralized our Border Patrol agents. I hope as we sing our praises today, that we understand that we are, yes, grateful to all of these people who protect us at the border, including the two Border Patrol agents that are now under attack.
In the meantime, let the case of Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean be revisited and the outrageous criminal charges against them dropped.
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
September 21, 2006.
Hon. ALBERTO R. GONZALES,
Attorney General of the United States,
DEAR MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I am writing today to ask you to personally intervene in the prosecution of U.S. Border Patrol Agents Compean and Ramos. This proceeding has garnered national attention calling into question the Administration's commitment to secure our borders and demoralizing the frontline men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol.
I have examined the statement by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton regarding the conviction of Border Patrol agents Compean and Ramos. It is disturbing to see that the limited resources available for investigation and prosecution were directed not at drug smugglers, but rather aimed at two veteran border patrol agents. These agents, who have risked their lives guarding our borders, did not follow the prescribed procedure concerning the discharge of their weapons. However, their lapse of compliance
occurred during a tumultuous confrontation with an illegal immigrant, a criminal who was in the process of smuggling 743 pounds of illegal drugs into the United States. Subsequently, the agents did not fully report what had happened, which also violated standard operating procedures. Such violations certainly deserve a reprimand. Instead of a measured response, the U.S.
Attorney has demanded the harshest possible punishment on two otherwise outstanding Border Patrol agents. There seems to be an uncompromising commitment to bring down these two border guards, while an illegal drug smuggler is being treated with great respect and elevated to the status of victim. If there ever was a classic example of distorted priorities, this it.
As to the specifics of the case: The two border agents intercepted a suspicious vehicle. The driver fled on foot, running toward the border. Officer Compean, armed with a shotgun, cut off the drug smuggler. A witness heard someone yell ``hit him, hit him'' and then Compean shouted for the fleeing criminal to stop. Officer Compean could have shot him at close range. Instead, he refrained from deadly force by using the butt of his shotgun. A struggle ensued with Officer Compean ending up on the
ground with dirt in his eyes, rendering the Officer vulnerable and at risk. Officer Ramos, seeing his partner laying bloodied on the ground, only then shot at the assailant as he ran toward the border. The fleeing criminal was wounded in the buttocks as he raced away from the altercation. After the incident the officers did not report the discharging
of their weapons and failure to do so was a violation of standard operation procedures. Furthermore, they attempted to conceal this mistake, which dug them in even deeper.
Bad decisions or mistakes are never easy to acknowledge to superiors. The desire to cover up bad decisions is a human temptation and always makes an error even worse. Nevertheless, the Herculean prosecutorial effort and huge allocation of time and resources mobilized against Officers Compean and Ramos was not justified. Nor was the prosecution's demand for a sentence that could put these two officers in prison for 20 years. This action will destroy not only their careers, but the lives of two
veteran patrol agents and their families. The statement made by U.S. Attorney Sutton is not persuasive enough to warrant the severity of the penalty being sought against Officers Compean and Ramos.
Did the two officers make a mistake? Yes. Did they violate procedures, not report those errors, and then obscure the facts? Yes. Does this case justify a severe reprimand, or perhaps a month-long suspension? Yes. Does it justify the egregious legal retaliation demanded by the U.S. Attorney? NO!
Common sense should guide authorities in such matters. Throw the book at criminals who threaten our families and society, not at public servants protecting us because they've made an error and not admitted it. Of course, had the fleeing drug dealer been an honest U.S. citizen peaceably surrendering to authorities, shooting him would then justify the severe punishment sought by the U.S. Attorney's Office. But that's not what happened!
The criminal was clearly not a benign individual who Border Patrol agents erroneously targeted. An honest citizen doesn't abandon his car, run for the border, and flee from a law enforcement officer. This was not an attack on an innocent victim. He was an illegal alien, a criminal involved in smuggling 743 pounds of illicit narcotics into our country that could have ended up in the hands of our children.
The border patrol agents are heroes, good guys who protect us. In this one case they did not follow the prescribed procedures when they discharged their weapons and then tried to conceal their error. So, let these two public servants who risk their lives to protect us, be properly disciplined, not destroyed.
The American people see this case as an illustration of the Administration's inexplicable support of illegal immigration. Please demonstrate this is not true by personally intervening in this case. The sentencing of Agents Compean and Ramos should be postponed so there can be a more thorough investigation of the facts and a more rational, balanced and just response from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Member of Congress.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished member of our committee, the gentlewoman from California, and we acknowledge her ongoing leadership on these issues, certainly Mr. Souder for his leadership, and my good friend, Mr. Jones from North Carolina.
We have had a common discussion on those very important issues. Let me applaud you for bringing this resolution to the floor of the House which gives us an opportunity to affirm our commitment and appreciation for the Border Patrol agents that serve America's front lines.
Let me share with you the good work, impressive work that our Border Patrol agents have been involved in. First of all, they have patrolled our borders since 1924. They are, in fact, the Nation's front liners.
For example, in fiscal year 2005, Border Patrol agents made almost 1.2 million arrests of people for illegally entering the country. They seized more than 12,300 pounds of cocaine, more than 1.2 million pounds of marijuana. The total street value of drugs interdicted in fiscal year 2005 was more than $1.4 billion.
We are long overdue in affirming and applauding the Border Patrol agents of America, both on the northern and southern border. The Border Patrol also is charged with the responsibility of preventing terrorists and terrorists' weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, from entering the United States.
They are there day in and day out. They are there Sunday through Sunday, 7 days a week, year in and year out, holidays and nonholidays.
The Border Patrol agents are there when we are asleep, and they are there when we are awake. But of course in terms of responding to the concerns that they have, I would be remiss if I did not mention that we have legislation, H.R. 4044, to provide more equipment, 15,000 Border Patrol agents over the next 5 years, increasing the number of agents from 11,000 to 26,000.
With more than 8,000 miles of land and coastal borders to patrol continuously, it is evident that an increase is [Page: H7443]
needed, but more importantly resources are needed and professionalism is needed.
Mr. Speaker, let me speak for a moment on professionalism. This tragedy that has occurred in Texas, my own State, cries out for relief. We are looking to address this question by getting the facts and moving, hopefully expeditiously, for hearings in this Congress.
Mr. Jones, I hope that you will encourage, as I am, the committees of jurisdiction to go ahead and hold hearings. Because what we are are fact finders. We do not misspeak, we hope. We do not pass myths and untruths, we hope. We tell the American people the truth, we hope.
I say that, because, of course, I have debated many bills on this floor where there is a great disagreement on the facts that are involved. And many of us have had our differences on the Iraq war and still believe in the misdirection of that issue.
But in this instance, I think we can find common ground that the men and women that are on the front lines, whether they are DEA, drug enforcement agents, FBI, whether they be ATF, whether they are U.S. marshals, deserve the opportunity to have their story fairly told.
And what I can glean from the facts of this case in Texas is there are questions about whether their facts have been told correctly and whether or not they have been told appropriately. So to the Border Patrol agents as we stand here and congratulate you, I know that you ask us whether there is a bite in our bark, whether or not as we stand here and affirm you, we promise that we will look into the issues of professionalism and your civil service status and your right to arbitration and your
right to address your issues of workplace questions in an organized manner.
You are asking us whether we are going to provide you with the necessary new Border Patrol agents, whether or not we are going to give you the equipment that includes power boats and includes night goggles and computers and a number of other equipment, helicopters, that will give you what you need to have.
And then you ask the question, when you are in the line of duty, will we stand by you with the facts? Will we have the wherewithal to ensure that all of the facts are on the table, so that the miscarriage of justice, prosecution, ultimate incarceration, destruction of your family, does not occur on the clock of Members of the United States Congress?
So I rise to support this initiative of my friend, Mr. Jones from North Carolina, H. Res. 1030, and I enthusiastically affirm the invaluable service that the United States Border Patrol agents are performing for America as they stand in the way, in the bridge, if you will, on the northern and southern border. In the darkness of night, in the coldness of night, in the warmness of night, in the rainiest of nights, and in the greatest disasters that may face us, Border Patrol agents are
there to protect us.
I ask my colleagues to support this amendment, and I ask that we be able to address the questions that are being raised in Texas in fairness and opportunity for fairness.
Mr. SOUDER. Mr Speaker, I thank the gentleman from North Carolina for yielding me time and thank him for this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, we also want to, in addition to the Border Patrol, praise all of the people in the Department of Homeland Security, in the Coast Guard, in ICE, and Customs and Border Protection at the points of entry.
For those who may not be completely familiar, the Border Patrol are the people who are in between the points of entry. Obviously, the men and women at the point of entry, the ICE agents internally, as they pursue the investigations which often cross into the zones of the Border Patrol, and at ports of entry, and the Coast Guard which are at water points of entry, are all working together in a seamless organization.
Unfortunately, the Border Patrol often gets the least attention of those different agencies. And this resolution correctly gives them some of the credit that they are due. Often they are not only in these very hot zones in the south, at times cold in the winter, and in the north, very cold; often we forget we have a northern Border Patrol as well. That is actually, not the numbers, but a bigger percent increase than the south. They are often also alone.
One of the reasons we need a fence and virtual fencing and other technological things to help our Border Patrol agents is often there is one there, or there may be four scattered over a mile and a half, and all of a sudden there is a group of seven SUVs coming at them, as we have had in Arizona, armed to the teeth. Even when we get a tip and put a Blackhawk in, you are looking at heavily armored vehicles coming at a few agents with no warning.
It may be a case of where you may have groups of 300 to 400 illegal immigrants coming at one or two or three or four agents. They have no idea whether they are armed or not armed. There are zones along the border where there is not as much pressure on illegal immigrants, but which are huge drug-trafficking areas, not only on the south border, but on the north border, along Blaine, Washington.
Going east from there is the trafficking of so-called BC Bud, this high-grade marijuana that is basically the same as cocaine. Arms trafficking going back into Canada. The largest export right now in British, Columbia is not timber; it is not any other product other than marijuana.
And the reason cocaine and heroin and guns are going into BC where we now see violence breaking out, first RCMP officers killed in British, Columbia, are going through those zones where the Border Patrol in the north border are trying to protect it. Often one or two agents with armed, heavily armed people coming at us.
And Neely's Crossing, just east of El Paso, where they have a bulldozer on the Mexican side. The drug lords have a bulldozer on their side. It is one of the only areas of the Rio Grande which [Page: H7444]
is basically spotty puddles of water in that zone, has a gravel base. And they push additional gravel in there. Anytime we put a barrier up, they put it there.
And as they brought one vehicle across at one point, some of our Border Patrol were tipped off. As this vehicle tried to get back across on the Mexican side, it got stuck. We know there were at least, the guess is, 10 tons of marijuana. We got about a 1 1/2 tons out.
They jumped out of their vehicles with AK-47s, armed heavily at our Border Patrol who then back up, which brings us to this fundamental question. Not only do these men and women deserve our credit for putting themselves at risk, not only do they have difficult jobs, and often are they outnumbered, but then this case that is occurring in Texas, without understanding all of the legal formalities, will have a chilling effect on the Border Patrol's willingness to defend us.
Because, if they think they are going to be prosecuted if they try to defend us, depending upon the particular angle at a given time of what someone is doing, and they are in a shootout, and the other side has guns, deliver poison into the United States in the terms of narcotics, or potentially chemical or nuclear weapons, or potentially high-risk terrorists who are willing to pay high dollars, and our Border Patrol are afraid to even risk any type of confrontation because they are going to be
prosecuted by our government, how are we going to stay safe?
We need to praise them for taking the risk. We need to praise them for being willing to stay out in the cold and in the heat and be outnumbered and not know what kind of guns are at them. We certainly do not need to be prosecuting them. So I hope this resolution makes it clear where this House stands. I am sure we will have committee hearings. We may have to wait until the case goes through, but the Border Patrol needs to know that this Congress stands behind them, that we are going to get to
the bottom of the type of procedures that are involved in this and make sure that they can defend not only themselves, but defend us, our children, our families and our Nation.
Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say to the previous speaker that I would really like to see the information on 300 or 400 people running across the border at one time.
Because I have just never heard of a case like that. Having said that, we do support the Border Patrol. We are glad that Mr. Jones has this resolution up on the floor tonight.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, as the gentlewoman knows, in San Diego we used to have, I saw with my own eyes in the middle of the night, about 1,200. But as we fenced that area, we broke up the big groups there in San Diego.
And so in San Diego you no longer have the huge groups of 1,000. We thought we were down to groups of basically, I have seen 50 or 100 with my own eyes, but as the gentlewoman had probably heard, I cannot remember if you were there when Secretary Chertoff was speaking to our Homeland Security Committee this morning, but that Congressman Pearce from New Mexico said that there are a number of cases, particularly in New Mexico right now, because as we worked on the Arizona border, pushed
them into New Mexico where he said this morning that he had seen 300 to 400 at a time in New Mexico.
That is questioning the statement of a Member from New Mexico who just saw this in the last 7 to 14 days. I myself have seen 50 to 100, and I used to see 1,200 before we built a fence in San Diego.
Mr. JONES of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and I am just going to make a couple of comments, and then I am going to finish.
I want to first thank Ms. SANCHEZ and Ms. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE for her comments and what she stated as well as Ms. SANCHEZ and my friend, Mr. Souder from Indiana, and Mr. Rohrabacher from California.
I think that we all agree that this resolution is important, and I just want to say that I would agree with the comments made by Ms. SANCHEZ that we need to make sure that the border patrol has what it needs to secure the borders for this great Nation.
I want to say to Ms. Jackson-Lee, as well as Mr. Rohrabacher, that we do need to make sure that these agents had been treated fairly in the process as it related to the indictment.
I would say to Mr. Souder, I thank you as well as other Members who serve on the Homeland Security Committee for your leadership to make sure that we do protect our borders.
The only other point I would like to make, Mr. Speaker, is that it has been made by these people who live in California and Texas and even my friend from Indiana, as well as my friends from California, that this is a very difficult job. These are men and women that are dedicated. They are not doing it for the money. They are doing it for the love of this country. And what they are doing is the same thing that our military does and that is try to make America secure.