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Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-TX 18th
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have been able to celebrate with the gentleman from California (Mr. Honda) the importance of Asian American and Asian Pacific Month.
I would like to add some additional points that I think are very important on this matter, and just add my thoughts regarding the information that we have shared this evening.
I would like to call this special order, Mr. Speaker, ``Matters Not Yet Finished, Issues Undone.''
I believe it is important to note, as we are facing challenges with respect to homeland security, that as we look to protect our Nation it is important to find the right kind of balance.
This morning I was able to join a number of my colleagues at the homeland security hearing held in the district of the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Slaughter). I thank her for her hospitality. It was a very important hearing. As we listened to the residents and Federal officials in the northern New York-Canadian area, the theme was, of course, that we should be effective and efficient and proficient, but also we need to balance the needs of that region as relates to the commerce of
people and as well goods. So there should always be a balance.
That is why I think it is important to remind this Nation of the Japanese internment in the 1940s, done by a President, of course, that thought what he was doing was the correct thing. But in many instances the Japanese that were interred did not even speak the language, did not speak Japanese, may not have had any relationship to Japan, and certainly posed no threat to the United States. They lost their jobs, their property, their family.
So as we move through society and as we begin to look at these questions, I think it is extremely important that homeland security and the securing of this Nation be balanced with civil liberties and the refusal and rejection of racial profiling.
I might also want to add just a note as we are focusing on the Asian Pacific Month, it is just to pay tribute for a moment to our former colleague, our late colleague, Patsy Mink. We truly miss her. Certainly she was the first Asian Pacific woman to be elected to the United States Congress and the first minority woman. It is clear that her leadership was not a leadership that focused solely on the issues of her heritage. She focused on issues of social justice. She is known to be the Mother of
Title IX, that opened the doors of opportunity for women athletes.
But I think it is very appropriate during this month to again compliment all of the Asian Pacific and Asian American elected officials throughout the Nation, our two Senators in the United States Senate, the many Members of this House of Representatives who serve us today. But certainly it would be remiss of all of us if we did not make mention of the fact that Patsy Mink served amongst us, and she was a dynamic and wonderful representative. [Page: H4241]
Also, Mr. Speaker, I believe that as we look at the issues confronting us there are many things that are left undone that I would like to make note of.
The first is that I would like to emphasize again a tribute to the 55 Texans that took it upon themselves to stand and be counted against a runaway legislature that wanted to do a number of legislative initiatives that were to undermine the representation of these members, 51 in Ardmore, and four others, a total of 55, a very unique and extraordinary procedure that was utilized.
I think the headline in the Washington Post on Tuesday, May 13, gave the right tone. ``GOP plan prompts a Texas exodus. Democrats stall State legislature's redistricting vote. Moving with exceptional stealth and tactical coordination, more than 50 Democratic State lawmakers in Texas packed their bags and quietly slipped out of the State under cover of darkness late Sunday and early today.''
Of course, it is alleged that the officials there dispatched various police officers and others to track them down. I do not think they reported, however, some of the abuses that occurred during that time; the fact that law enforcement, under the direction of State officials, went into hospitals, went into the homes of legislators whose children were home alone, tracked legislators' cars whose whereabouts were well-known because they were in Ardmore, simply, I believe, an inappropriate use of
the legal authority of that State.
I would hope that there will be a great study of what occurred with these 55. I hope the Nation points sunlight on that political process so that the misrepresentation that they absconded or they left in the dark of night would not be the accurate characterization
of what happened.
What happened was as important as those early settlers who threw, if you will, the tea into the Boston Harbor. It was an act of objection, defiance, in a democratic manner. It was a nonviolent defiance of a governmental process that was oppressive.
And what was the oppression? The refusal of the legislature to even allow amendments by the Democrats on any issues, amendments that would deal with the saving of children who had lost their health care, amendments dealing with fixing Medicaid, amendments dealing with fixing the pension problem with respect to teachers in Texas, amendments dealing with the fact that schools were firing teachers. There was absolutely no respect of the bipartisan process that Texans had grown used to and certainly
no respect of the balance between majority and minority.
So the Democrats did not just walk out, Mr. Speaker, on the issue dealing with redistricting, though let me share with you the plan that was supposed to be a redistricting plan. Mind you, Mr. Speaker, that not in 50 years had there been this kind of interim redistricting request by any State. So it is unfortunate that we would have the majority leader of this body to interfere with the State process on the grounds that the State of Texas is a Republican State.
This is what we would have been subjected to if the redistricting plan would have existed.
First of all, District 25, that is now an existing district in the State of Texas, would have been extinguished, moving it some hundreds of miles away from its original base. That means an incumbent Member would have been totally eliminated. Not that the incumbent Member is the question. It is the question of the people having the right to select a person of their choosing and for communities of interest to be able to be together.
When I told constituents of the 25th that their district no longer existed, and these are individuals of different political persuasions, not only were they shocked, but they were outraged that they did not have the opportunity to have a hearing in their community to be able to address the question.
Mind you, Mr. Speaker, those of us from Texas wrote letters. The legislators there requested of that body, the State House, to allow for field hearings to occur. But, lo and behold, they were totally rejected. Not rejected as elected officials, but I would like to remind Speaker Craddick of the House of Representatives in Austin that he denied the people of the State of Texas.
But this plan would totally move the 18th Congressional District that I am now representing, again a district that belongs to the people, totally away from its historic communities of interest. It means the historic homes of Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland would no longer be in the 18th Congressional District and that historic location in Houston, Texas, but would be connected hundreds of miles away to a district that would be in Beaumont, Texas, next to Louisiana. So a downtown community, downtown
Houston, would be connected under this plan that the legislators saw fit to leave town on to Beaumont, Texas.
The real key is the rights of the people, and I believe that the rights of the people have been undermined and, maybe in some instances, abused. I believe it is important as a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security that we clarify and make sure that in the rush to judgment of last week that no Federal resources were utilized.
So I would like to offer into the RECORD language from a letter that was sent by a number of Members of Congress dated today to request formally the audio tapes and transcripts of all conversations or transmissions pertaining to any aspect of the alleged attempts to use any Federal resources of any type with regard to any member of the Texas legislature. This request includes all communications of any type to and from employees and consultants, wherever they may be located.
I would like to offer this into the RECORD at the appropriate time, Mr. Speaker.
The letter is joined by a letter that was sent last week by myself and a number of Members of this body to insist that this was not a Federal question. There had been no criminal acts that had been perpetrated by the legislators, and their constitutional rights protected them from their expression of opposition to the process of the Texas legislature, and that no Federal resources or no Federal intervention should occur.
Apparently, we were ignored; and already at that time inquiries were made to the Department of Justice to utilize their resources. Also, it appears that homeland security resources were used at that time and that there were trackings, if you will, of legislators.
That is an abomination, Mr. Speaker, an outrage. I hope that, out of the sense of respect and dignity for this House and the Members of this body, an appropriate response will be coming forth from the Homeland Security Department. I think it is absolutely a necessity, Mr. Speaker, that we engage in doing that immediately. Without that, I think that we are barking up a very wrong tree.
As I said, Mr. Speaker, I am here to discuss issues left unstated and matters still to be done. I want to speak to the question of the news item of last week, and we do not know how long it will continue. I do so because I am a strong believer in the first amendment and the freedom of the press. It is certainly imperative and the responsibility of the press to be accurate; I do not disagree with that. Many of us who serve in elected office have seen many instances that we have challenged some
of the accuracy of the reportings of the press.
At the same time, we hold very dear that privilege of the first amendment. In fact, the first amendment entitles us to the freedom of speech, the freedom of association and movement, and the freedom of religion, among others. So this is not a challenge, if you will, to the idea that we must protect the first amendment.
I recall working with a writer a year or two ago on the issue of ensuring that she had the right to hold her sources, a very sensitive issue. She was so convinced of this that she remained in jail for a period of months, almost a year, to protest against the grand jury demanding of her her sources. I sided with the privilege that she had to protect those sources of her particular articles that she had written and books that she was intending to write.
But this is about The New York Times and Jayson Blair. All of a sudden, it grew into a larger issue. Mr. Speaker, Jayson is an African American. The whereabouts of Jayson I do [Page: H4242]
not know if anyone knows at this point, but I would like to raise as a commentary an article by Bob Herbert written in The New York Times. It is seemingly May 19, late edition.
I believe this is an important commentary, because what we saw last week was an uproar about Mr. Blair's writings and the mea culpa of The New York Times, and the challenging of the editorial staff. I would like to support the editorial staff. I cannot support them personally in terms of their professional and management style, but certainly I believe that all heads should not roll because of an incident with an obviously unfortunate individual who has certainly deep and unfortunate problems.
But what began to happen is the trickle-up effect, that they wanted to throw the management out with the water. They also wanted to label Mr. Blair as a representative or a symbol of affirmative action. So I stand here today to take issue with all of the editorials and all of the commentary that will probably continue, that Mr. Jayson Blair's problems were because he was an African American hired on affirmative action and protected by affirmative action.
I would like to take from Mr. Herbert's commentary: ``I've seen drunks, incompetents and out-and-out lunatics in the newsrooms I've passed through over the years. I have seen plagiarizers, fiction writers and reporters who felt it was beneath them to show up for work.
``I remember a police captain who said of a columnist at the daily News, `I didn't mind him making stuff up as long as I looked okay. But now he's starting to tick me off.'
``I was at NBC when some geniuses decided it was a good idea to attach incendiary devices to a few GM pick-up trucks to show the trucks had a propensity to burst into flames. That became a scandal that grew into a conflagration that took down the entire power structure at NBC News.''
Then he refers to the Jayson Blair scandal: ``For those who have been watching nothing but the Food Network for the past weeks, Mr. Blair was a Times reporter who resigned after it was learned that his work contained fabrications and plagiarized passages on a monumental scale. The truth and Jayson Blair inhabited separate universes. If there were a blizzard raging, Mr. Blair could tell you with the straightest and friendliest of
faces that the weather outside was sunny and warm.
``Now, this story would be a juicy story under any circumstances. But Mr. Blair is black, so there is the additional spice of race, to which so many Americans are terminally addicted.
Listen up: the race issue in this case is as bogus as some of Jayson Blair's writing and reporting.'' A great comment and an important comment.
``The idea that blacks can get away with the journalistic equivalent of murder at The Times because they are black is preposterous.
``There's a real shortage of black reporters, editors and columnists at The Times. But the few who are here are doing fine and serious work day in and day out and don't deserve to be stigmatized by people who can see them only through the prism of a stereotype.
``The problem with American newsrooms is too little diversity, not too much. Blacks have always faced discrimination and maddening double standards in the newsroom, and they continue to do so. So do women, Latinos and many other groups that are not part of the traditional newsroom in-crowd''; and I might add, Asian Americans.
``So let's be real. Discrimination in the newsroom--in hiring, in the quality of assignments and promotions--is a much more pervasive problem than Jayson Blair's aberrant behavior. A black reporter told me angrily last week, `After hundreds of years in America, we are still on probation.' ''
Mr. Speaker, that is why I think this is extremely important. Thank you, Mr. Herbert, for your commentary. How striking and how truthful, to be able to highlight the fact that what we really have a problem with is not enough African Americans on editorial boards and newspapers across the Nation, or African Americans behind the camera making editorial decisions in the electronic media, whether it be radio or television.
Jayson is not the problem; Mr. Blair is not the problem. We all hope and wish for him some sort of recuperative regrouping, and certainly whatever penalties will come to him personally. But his downfall at The New York Times should not be the downfall of all reporters all over the Nation. I would just simply ask my colleagues to make sure that we are not pointing to someone who clearly has his own severe problems.
I believe that we can get past this by working very hard together on establishing what should be the right kind of attitude about affirmative action. That is, of course, that it brings about the opportunity for diversity and it brings about the opportunity for improving the access of all Americans to the great workplaces and the talents that all of us deserve to see.
I wish all of those in newsrooms around America the reckoning and the respect for all who may be there. Certainly I hope that they will encourage diversity and reach out for diversity.
To all of those who happen to be African American, Hispanic, women, Asian American and others who are in the newsroom, they should do the right kind of job, stand up and be proud, and reflect upon the wonderment of their heritage, so that as readers are reading, they can see in actuality a different perspective reflected by their uniqueness, their talent, their intellect, and their ability to write.
Might I also make note of the fact that I am very proud of my young son, Jason Lee, who just recently won a writing contest. He is in the 11th grade. I would encourage all who are involved in training young people to encourage them to write. It is one of the most important skills that I think we can have, and I would hope that we would do so.
Mr. Speaker, I think that as we look at these issues, it is important as well to continue to look at civil justice and civil rights issues. I would like to again focus on a civil rights issue by focusing on the predicament of individuals in Tulia, Texas, where tens of individuals were locked up on the testimony of an errant police officer.
Now, I have the greatest respect for law enforcement. We work a lot together. I am a member of the Committee on the Judiciary. I want to salute much of the law enforcement in the State of Texas and Houston that I have had a chance to work with, so I do not broad brush. But I know that we have had our share of enormous difficulties and racial incidents that law enforcement personnel have, unfortunately, contributed to.
We have a large problem in this country regarding racial profiling, and we have yet to pass a serious racial profiling legislative initiative in this Congress. We have a problem that we have not passed a hate crimes bill, and we have difficulties in getting that bill even to be heard in the Committee on the Judiciary. I believe that we have a lot of work to do.
In this instance, in Tulia, Texas, and I want to applaud the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel) for a briefing I
joined them in, and as well to applaud the Committee on the Judiciary of the House, because we expect to have a hearing on this very point in the very near future.
I will be authoring a resolution to condemn what occurred in Tulia, Texas, and that is tens of African Americans not only arrested but convicted on bogus drug charges. They were individuals who were charged, and they were released after they could document that they were not even in the town at the time the incidents occurred. But it was so reckless and random, and the justice was so fleeting. In fact, there was no justice, because individuals were able to be indicted and convicted on the testimony
of one law officer, or police person, who subsequently was then undermined and shown to be lacking in integrity and the truth.
It is time now to have those who are in prison released immediately. Might I applaud Senator John Whitmire for his courage and his legislation in the State senate of Texas indicating and requesting and demanding that these individuals be released.
It would be a shame if the legislature that tried to bombard a redistricting plan that had no sense and was obviously developed by a meat cutter, there would be a tragedy if there could not be some good after this incident. That would be to pass Senator Whitmire's [Page: H4243]
legislation on unanimous consent. Forgive me if I am suggesting a procedural point that is not allowed in the Texas senate.
But if it is to be considered in that manner, I would encourage my friends in Texas to take up Senator Whitmire's bill and to have those individuals released. If that is not the case, then what would be the best thing to occur? Mr. Governor, Governor Perry, why do you not do the right thing and why do you not, by executive order, ask that these individuals be pardoned and released from the prison, because it has been shown without a doubt that the sentences that they have been rendered are sentences
that are inappropriate, and that they have been convicted on false charges, and that they should be released?
It is very important that we do so, and I hope that out of the work of Senator Whitmire, out of the hearing we will have in the Committee on the Judiciary, I hope that we will find an opportunity, if you will, to release these innocent persons.
I had the opportunity to meet the mother and another individual, I believe, that had been impacted, of some of the incarcerated persons. What a sad occasion that mothers were celebrating Mother's Day without their children. Some mothers had two and three and four children arrested, convicted, and jailed. What an outrage.
Then they found out that the actual basis of this case was on one single individual's testimony. That individual, upon further hearing, when they were brought to trial on the basis of the lawyers that had been retained or chosen to help these individuals that are incarcerated, they found that his case was made of nothing but a bag of air and a bucket of water with holes in it.
I think it is time now that we address the inequity. I would say it is time we free the Tulia incarcerated persons, free them now. I would ask the Governor to do the right thing, the Governor of the State of Texas to do the right thing and release these individuals. It is outrageous.
Mr. Speaker, I might say that this has gained a lot of support in the State of Texas. This is not an isolated and, if you will, covered-up circumstance. It is appropriate for the Governor to act. I would hope that he would do the right thing and the respectful thing and allow these individuals to go free.
I want to step aside from civil rights issues for a moment and just go into, again, as I said this is a litany of issues that I think is very important. I want to congratulate the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Meek) in his work with Haitians. Preceding him was his mother, Congresswoman Carrie Meek.
I would join him in the resolution that he has filed today in celebration of Haitians, Haitian-Americans to acknowledge that there are 1.2 million Haitian-Americans in this country, 700,000 in the Florida area, and to also celebrate and commemorate with them Flag Day, May 18, and to salute the kind of friendship that Haiti has had with the United States and apologize to them for not keeping that friendship at the level it should be.
Frankly, I believe that we have done a disservice to our Haitian friends by not giving them parity as it relates to immigration laws and allowing them to have, because of the oppressive nature and the unfortunate economy in Haiti and over the years the oppressive nature of the government, we are now trying to work with the present government. I am not suggesting that the government is not trying, but I am saying that the Haitians live in abject poverty and there is a great need to respond to
their immigration needs as they seek opportunity. Some of them are, if you will, in jeopardy of losing their lives because of the political viewpoint they take.
I would suggest that we look closely at the legislation many of us have offered over the sessions, and that is to allow Haitians who flee because of political oppression and also abject poverty, where there is no opportunity whatsoever for them to survive, I would suggest that we look closely at providing them the kind of status that the Cubans receive when they are able to reach the shores of the United States of America.
This will of course upset many, but we have always had a disjointed immigration policy in the United States, and I think we do ourselves a disservice by not understanding that we are not gaining by having an immigration policy.
I have heard my good friend on the floor of the House day after day after day, month after month after month. I do not disagree with those who believe that we have to find a way to stem the tide of illegal immigration. I certainly agree with that. I also agree that we must secure our borders, and it certainly would be hypocritical for me to be on the Select Committee on Homeland Security and not provide the resources of increased border patrol agents, of high technology, with the kind of radioactive
equipment that can detect illegal goods and persons coming across the border. But we have to recognize as well that we are surrounded by nations whose economy is in shambles, and people look to the United States with great hope and inspiration. And, unfortunately, sometimes they have gotten a one-way ticket to death.
So as I mention the Haitians I think it is important to note that that country is in shambles. We are working with it. I hope the President of the country will be able to restore democracy and governmental procedures and law and order and the economy. That is not the case now, and so people seek opportunity. They do not come here just to do us harm. And as they do not come here to do us harm, I think it is important then that we find a sensible way to have the right kind of immigration policy,
and some of the policies that my colleagues want to project, it just makes simply no sense.
You will absolutely never close the borders of the United States in totality. Why? Because the United States benefits economically from trade with Canada and trade with its friends in the southern hemisphere.
Today we were told that the largest amount of trade comes in through Canada. So you are not going to be able to just absolutely close our borders with no punitive measures coming towards you. It is just absolutely not going to happen. So what do we do?
Well, I have filed legislation called Earned Access to Legalization, a bill that saw one million petitioners in the last Congress petition so that we could find an intelligent, reasonable, compassionate, humanitarian way to deal with individuals who are already here. And these are undocumented aliens who are working, owning homes, paying taxes, maybe even have bank accounts but are still under what we call the radar screen because we are not allowing them to access legalization. Their children
are not legal. Their extended family is not legal. What sense does that make, Mr. Speaker, when we could have these individuals documented or give them access to legalization?
My legislation does not say to bestow citizenship automatically without any other procedures in place. It does not say give them citizenship if they have a criminal record. What it says, Mr. Speaker, that if you have continuously been in the United States from 3 to 5 years we will allow you to access the process of becoming a citizen. We will pull the sheets off of those who are hiding. We will let the sunshine come down on those hard-working immigrants who are paying taxes and simply want to
I want to pay tribute to a constituent of mine who owns the restaurant Hugo. He was highlighted in the Houston Chronicle. He came across the border illegally but yet today owns one of the fastest-growing restaurants, the most attractive restaurant. He did not come to do harm. He pulled himself up by the bootstraps.
I am sure this is not going to be a welcoming sound to those who may be listening. Hugo tried five times to come to the United States, and others who helped bring him did as well. And they came illegally, no, not to do
harm but because they were living in abject poverty, but because their family needed the resources, because they were given the impression that there was a golden rainbow in the United States of America.
What are we going to do? Turn off all the televisions of those in the world who believe we live in a world of democracy, in a Nation that is rich and prosperous, and that the people have an opportunity to work? I do not believe that we are going to be able to [Page: H4244]
dispel the myth or the real story that we live in grandeur here in the United States, so we must find a way of balance.
Hugo should be celebrated for the fact that he did pull himself up by his bootstraps, and here he is providing and contributing to the economy of the United States, providing jobs to hard-working immigrants, people with legal status and working throughout the community to be someone who we are very proud of.
That is what we need to do in providing a balance with our immigration policy: Document those who are here and find a way to provide an economic engine in the countries that are to our southern border in order to ensure that people who live there have the right kind of economy, that they can live in their country in dignity.
President Vicente Fox had raised this discussion with President Bush, of course. It has been dropped like a hot potato, unfortunately. The tragedy of 9/11, of which we do not give any disrespect to, it is an enormous tragedy, and we are still working to overcome the pain of those families. We must now address again this question of immigration. We realize that the individuals who perpetrated that horrific tragedy, most of them came in on illegal visas. That is not immigration. That is a visitor's
visa. And so we must tighten the requirements.
But we must be fair as well as it relates to countries around the world and not penalize one group of countries versus another, but we must ensure that we restrict and put in place the right kind of procedures dealing with those who are seeking visas.
As I visited Doha, Qatar I was able to sit in, in India I was able to sit in on the visa procedures in our embassies, and I must say I see a new and different approach, and certainly there are those who are turned away.
As I look at that process I want to turn back to the process of illegal immigrants or aliens and I want to say, Mr. Speaker, by putting our heads in the sand we will not have a cogent immigration policy that addresses the question of the individuals who want to come here and seek an opportunity. Might I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that we utilize these individuals.
In fact, there are many Members of Congress, and I know our committee will be holding a hearing, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will be holding a hearing dealing with the guest worker program. We actually create vehicles for individuals to come in temporarily and work for industries that could not do without them.
So why are we trying to come to the floor of the House and bash immigrants when we know full well that this economy is churned by those who have come to work? What we must ensure, however, is that we do not eliminate the work opportunities for the many Americans who are unemployed, but we have got to get a handle around our immigration policy and make it have some sense.
For that reason, let me also bring up and raise and suggest that this past weekend Texas experienced an enormous tragedy again, Mr. Speaker, tied into the immigration issue. Individuals crossing the border, no matter what tragedies they have heard of before, what obstacles they have to overcome, what frightening experiences they have, they are still coming because they view the United States as a place of opportunity.
Well, there are ways of addressing this question; and tragically this weekend we saw this past week the deaths of 19 individuals being smuggled into the United States, including a father and son who had just been abandoned by the son's mother and were coming to the United States for a new opportunity, for a fresh look at life, and that 5-year-old boy died in that heated and horrible and horrific truck in the trailer part of the truck where people literally smothered to death, where there was
no air. A more vicious death one could not expect.
Mr. Speaker, I think it impacted the Houston area more than we could ever imagine. Memorials were held this past Sunday because so many of those individuals had relatives that lived in the Houston area. My sympathy goes out to them. For those who look in mockery saying that this did not have to happen if they had not done it in the first place, you can continue to stick your head in the sand, but I can tell you this will continue to happen. But we must stamp out the illegal aspect of what is
Mr. Speaker, I am authoring the Anti-Smuggling Prevention Act of 2003 because I believe that the participants of this terrible and horrific crime believed that this was easy money. The truck driver, I believe, thought that this was an easy deal. He did not live in the State of Texas. I understand it was a possible cash payment of upwards of $5,000. He thought that there was going to be no problem, just driving some folk over the border and into certain areas up to Houston, Texas, but not knowing
the dastardly deed that was about to occur. Certainly was not a physician, was not a medical professional, was not a scientist and did not bother to worry about whether there was air in the trailer.
So who is now counting the dollars? The smuggling ring, and that is who we need to stamp out. I believe we need to enhance the penalties, not on the issue of death, because we already have penalties that are severe if death results. But we need to enhance the penalties just on the fact that you involved yourself in smuggling human beings. The fact that you are smuggling human beings is so horrific and tragedies can occur that you should realize that your jail time is going to be painful and long.
I think also that we should reward informants who actually bring out information that will result in a conviction, and the informants should be given cash rewards.
I also believe, Mr. Speaker, that we should look at on a humanitarian case-by-case situation for those individuals who are illegal aliens who are able to smash the smuggling ring, the big guys, the guys who are counting the dollars, they are money laundering, they are smuggling human beings, they are smuggling drugs, to smash those smuggling rings on a humanitarian basis. I believe it is important that those individuals be looked upon to be able to access legalization.
It is important to note, Mr. Speaker, that this was an enormous tragedy in Houston, and I want to share just some of the description. This is taken from an article out of USA Today on May 19, 2003:
``Temperatures in Texas already reach into the 90s and 100s daily. That raises the risk enormously for those hiding in 18 wheelers and railcars which have replaced panel trucks and vans as a preferred way to smuggle larger groups.
``A trailer is not a mode of transportation for human being, says Xavier Rios, a supervisor agent for the Border Patrol in Harlingen. Neither is a train or car.''
If I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that I mentioned Hugo who now owns a restaurant, that is how he first came to the United States, I believe, in a railcar.
Until the week before the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox were working on a safer way for Mexicans to travel back and forth. I think this should be broadened to all immigrants because we are certainly going to face this over and over again.
It is time for a change. I would commend my colleagues to look at the Earned Access to Legalization legislation. We can reform, if you will, our immigration policy. We need to understand that people are going to continue to come no matter how much we go to the floor of the House and preach otherwise and speak against the idea of immigration. The only way you are going to beat this is to have a rational immigration policy that keeps out the terrorists and the guys that want to do bad things and
the criminals and others but allows a reasonable way to address the question of those who are simply begging to come to this country for greater opportunity.
The advocates clearly note that this was a tragedy, and this article also says, It is like a big splash of cold water on people's faces when they see and hear that a 7-year-old died because he could not get enough air and all he wanted to do, says Angela Kelley of the National Immigration Forum, but all he wanted to do was to simply be with his father and to be able to come to the United States. The victims near Victoria reportedly range from a 5-year-old boy to a man in his 90s. [Page:
So this is a question that should be addressed immediately, and I have asked the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims for us to have an immediate hearing so that we can address this larger question and also address the question of truckers who may think that this is easy money. I believe we have not done an effective job in getting to trucking companies and to truckers and to union halls about the tragedies that could occur.
And I believe also that after providing this outreach and informational campaign, that trucking companies which the trucks may belong to should lose their license along with the truck driver. This is not an attempt to penalize those persons who are simply seeking a livelihood. What it is, however, is an attempt to keep them from doing things that will harm them or to keep them from taking actions that will have them wind up in jail for a very long period of time. We failed in educating the public
about how dastardly an act smuggling is, and I think it is high time to do so.
So I hope that my colleagues will join me on the Anti-Smuggling Prevention Act to toughen prison terms for these violators. And this is to do so on a preventive basis, so that if they know they are going to be incarcerated for a period of time, if they even think about doing smuggling for someone else, if they think about doing their bidding, then they will find out they will spend a lot of time in jail. I hope that we can begin to save lives.
This was such an enormous tragedy, Mr. Speaker, that we will probably not overcome that for a very long period of time.
In looking at the world from a different perspective, I think it is also important to come home a little bit and to look at what we have to do to fulfill the promise that was made to America as relates to the Iraqi war. First of all, I think we should just restate the fact that the war in Iraq did not solve the problem of terrorism.
We do need to acknowledge, as we move this week toward commemorating and honoring those who lost their lives, that they will be forever heroes in our minds, and as well to make note of those who have recently lost their lives in Iraq in a recent helicopter crash. We mourn their lives and, more importantly, we send our deepest sympathies to their families. We will never divide this Nation on the question of supporting our troops and honoring them and their families who lost loved ones during this
period of time. That was an enormous tragedy.
But we must build on what was represented to be an effort to bring democracy to Iraq. I believe that we are not moving in the right direction. It is important that we work on the aftermath of Iraq and we do so in a way that clearly suggests to the world that the United States and Britain are still not trying to go it alone and that we draw into the understanding of the importance of rebuilding Iraq a collaborative effort.
We have to be sensitive about a U.N. resolution that only puts the names or only focuses on Spain, Britain, and the United States. We have to begin to collaborate with our long-standing allies, our European allies, allies like India. We have to recognize that it was Doha, Qatar, that allowed us to have the central command hosted there. So we must work with our other Arab allies, as well, as we seek to rebuild.
The reason is because we have a larger fight, as evidenced by the incidences that occurred in Morocco and Saudi Arabia last week, the loss of lives of Americans. We do not know when the next unfortunate terrorist act may occur. We do not stand here to promote hysteria, but reason and rationale. It is important the President realize we cannot go and do this alone. We cannot go it alone as the United States of America. It seems that we are attempting to do that.
We have to be able to draw in the United Nations and our NATO allies, and it is important that we begin to establish a stable currency that will be tied to not only the U.S. dollar but the Euros and other currency; to find an appropriate balance between debt forgiveness and debt repayment; to engage the WTO and IMF to ensure an international commitment to Iraqi success. But also, as we look to those possible support systems, we have to look to the NGOs, the nongovernmental organizations around
the world, including those smaller ones that may be located in Los Angeles; Houston, Texas; New York; Jackson, Mississippi; Paris, France; or London, England.
We must begin to formulate an NGO advisory committee. We know the Red Cross is there. The American Red Cross has done an outstanding job. But I believe it is important to draw on NGOs from around the world that may have a commonality with the people of Iraq, either by way of the faith that they are professing or the understanding of their culture, and begin to have that coalition work in collaboration to put in democratic structures in Iraq.
We can already see that there is massive disorder, lack of law and order; that there is confusion; that systems are not working. And even as Ambassador Bremer attempts to work very hard to do so, it is important to note that we cannot do it alone. I would encourage the work of Ambassador Bremer to be inclusive and to work alongside nongovernmental organizations. And, in fact, I am proposing a Marshall Plan, alongside the plan that we
need to rebuild America. We want to make sure that we have a somewhat similar focus that we had after World War II, and it worked, and we did so with our allies. I believe that is extremely important, and I hope we will pay heed to that.
Let me say also that I intend this week to denounce, if you will, the lack of urgency and speed that the administration has utilized in reaching out to small, medium-sized, minority, and women-owned businesses in helping to rebuild Iraq. One of the things that I gleaned from visiting in Doha, Qatar, is that part of the success of diplomacy is relationships, relationships with Members of Congress, relationships with members of government, of the administration. We are losing relationships in the
Arab world, with our Arab allies. I believe to ensure that we regain those relationships, it is extremely important that we include small, medium- sized, and minority-owned businesses to be able to not only do the work in helping to rebuild Iraq but to develop relationships with the people in the Arab countries and to develop relationships with the people in Iraq.
It is interesting and confusing, though certainly some of these are Texas companies, that we have these major companies, huge multiconglomerates, if you will, and large contracts with the Department of Defense; and they cannot find the opportunities for other sized companies who have the same or equal expertise, just smaller, to collaborate with or do joint ventures with. I think the Defense Department needs to respond immediately on the processes used to select Halliburton and Bechtel; and I
believe that these companies should work immediately with minority-owned businesses, medium-sized businesses, and small businesses.
I am informed that USAID has about $2.5 billion, and we are looking forward to working with USAID in using smaller minority-owned companies and women-owned businesses; but the Department of Defense has the largest share, and there seems to be some doubt that we can find minority, small, and medium-sized and women-owned businesses that can collaborate and do the engineering work, the technological work, the oil and gas work, the protecting of the oil well. But I am here to tell you I am from Texas,
and that is not true.
It is extremely important, and I encourage these small, medium-sized, minority-owned, women-owned businesses to begin to seek information from the Department of Defense. And those of us who are interested in this topic will continue to pursue that closely.
Let me quickly move, Mr. Speaker, to two very important items that have been disturbing me and have been misrepresented, I think, to the American public. First, let me say that I have the greatest respect for NASA, as a member of the House Committee on Science. The greatest respect. And I am honored to have been able to serve on the House Committee on Science since 1995, and particularly on the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. I am delighted to serve there with very esteemed colleagues,
the ranking member of the committee, the chairman of [Page: H4246]
the committee, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and the chairman. I know, in particular, that the ranking member of the subcommittee has been extremely vocal on expressing the need for a review by this Congress of Columbia VII.
Frankly, Mr. Speaker, even though the investigatory body is still proceeding, I sense an urgency that they do their job and do it well but that the Congress and the House in particular begins to have hearings. And let me suggest to you why, as I read to you some very disturbing testimony and commentary in an article from the Houston Chronicle dated May 17, 2003. And, Mr. Speaker, might I say that we have been speaking about the issues of safety now for at least 6 to 8 years, the question of whether
NASA has spent enough money.
This is not a question of Republicans and Democrats, not a question of a Democratic administration or a Republican administration. It is a question of me being outraged that time after time in putting the question on the record: What about safety? Are we funding safety? Do we have enough money for safety? Have we looked at an escape module? Even before this terrible tragedy. There are those of us from Texas who lived through the Challenger tragedy. I watched the Challenger as it exploded, and
I know the family members. I know the family members that are living through this now. If we do anything to give them homage or to pay tribute to their loved ones, it is to insist that NASA begin to address through funding needs as well by design a safety program that can make this the right kind of program.
I am an avid supporter of human space flight, Mr. Speaker. An avid supporter. And I want to see humans in space and the Shuttle reinvigorated, as well as the work we have done, the cargo we have taken, the research, the discoveries regarding diabetes, the discoveries regarding HIV/AIDS, as well as stroke and heart disease. Miracles
have occurred. But here is a commentary from Admiral Gehman:
``The safety organization sits right beside the person making the decision, but behind the safety organization there is nothing there, no people, money, engineering, expertise, analysis,'' said Gehman. ``The engineers sit right to the other side, but the engineering department is not independently funded. The engineers all have to obtain funding from the space flight program. So their allegiance is to the program. The system is so flawed that even sweeping changes in leadership would be ineffective,''
Gehman argued. ``We find the safety organization on paper is perfect, but when you bore down a little deeper, you don't find anything there,'' he said. ``You will get the same wrong answers no matter how many times you convene the boards. It doesn't make any difference who the chairman is.''
Mr. Speaker, this is indicting. Safety is there on paper, but there is nothing there? And year after year, no matter what kind of administration we had, Mr. Speaker, they kept saying over and over again, oh yes, we are funding safety. It's safe. They are well trained.
Now, I am not here, Mr. Speaker, to call any names or to castigate any unfortunate soul who happened to have been part of that launch and who will ultimately have to answer to those who will raise the questions. I am here, Mr. Speaker, to save lives and to remind my good friends at NASA that we have repeatedly questioned you about safety factors and you have repeatedly, administrator after administrator, two that I have known, said the same thing. How in the world can we do this to the brave
men and women that we challenge to go into space not for themselves but because of us?
So I am demanding, Mr. Speaker, immediate hearings to be held in the United States House of Representatives on the question of safety and the potential of an escape module, and I believe it is imperative that all of the documents that relate to this issue be presented to this body immediately. I think we fail in our job, we abdicate our responsibility if we, the Members of the House of Representatives, cannot join in having a full hearing on this matter and as well to move through the appropriations
process and actually put in a mark that has the word NASA, and then under it, safety; shuttle, and under it, safety, and a line item of funding. This is an abomination and it must stop now.
Let me, Mr. Speaker, mention, if we are talking about money, and to sort of come to a reasonable conclusion, that we look at where we are and why we have so many difficulties as relates to our funding. And that is, of course, the $550 billion tax cut that is now making its way through the United States Congress. And of course for those of us who vigorously opposed this tax cut, it seems that we are continually trying to defend ourselves.
Let me provide Members with a very simple explanation why I am opposed to it: because we have the largest unemployment that we have had I believe in the last 2 decades; because I believe Chairman Greenspan is hesitant about moving this Nation towards this huge tax cut; because the war on terrorism requires us to invest deeply, if you will, in homeland security and to promote terrorism as our number one issue of trying to thwart.
So utilizing this money to give the top 1 percent of our population a tax cut is not an engine that will boost the economy. Using this $550 billion to give $40 billion to those making $374,000 is not going to gain any number of jobs, nor is the cut in dividends going to infuse the economy with any great amount of activity.
In fact, those corporations say that a dividend tax cut is not going to do anything but cause them to escrow their money and those who get a tax cut on the dividends I imagine are simply going to put it in their savings accounts.
But out of the $550 billion, the number of jobs you will create are 1 million. That means it will take $550,000 to create 1 million jobs, so one job will cost $550,000. So when you spend $1 million under the President's plan, you only get two jobs. If you were to take the plan that the Democrats are offering and invest $1 million into transportation, for example, you get 13 jobs. If you invested $1 million into local passenger rail, you get 15 jobs. If you invested it into State and local health
care programs where States are seeing their health budgets implode, Medicaid going down the tube and people being thrown off Medicaid every day, 26 jobs would be created.
If we did it in public education, where in the State of Texas they are firing teachers, you would create 28 jobs. And if you invested it in fire and police, my good friends in Texas but also all over the Nation, the first responders who are still waiting for their homeland security money, they would get 27 jobs. Under the President's plan, a $550 billion tax cut, the number of jobs that it proposes to create are 1 million that cost $550,000 per job; and out of a million dollars, out of this plan,
you only get two jobs per $1 million.
Down here, and I am saying it again because it is so shocking: transportation, 13 jobs; local passenger rail, 15 jobs; State and local health care, 26; public education, 28; and, of course, police and fire, 27.
Mr. Speaker, we can do better in this Congress. I can show that the tax cuts do little for my constituents. Those average tax cuts get $136, and those who are the high income get $13,000. I am going to get a $136 check for most of my constituents, and a few will get $13,000.
Mr. Speaker, this has been an attempt to remind this Congress that we have come here not to work for ourselves but to work for our constituents. There are many grievances that we are facing around the Nation; and, unfortunately, these issues have not been solved.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity to present these issues, and I hope that my colleagues will continue to roll up their sleeves and address the grievances of America and realize that we have come here to represent all of America and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.