Cornyn: We Must Have A Secure Border For A Secure Nation

In: All News   Posted 09/08/2003

SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn addressed the border terrorism conference in San Antonio on Monday, saying that border security merits our urgent attention and action. He said that for too long we have failed to address the flaws in our nation’s immigrations policy and that also we must recognize the important contributions immigrants make to our society. "We must bring our broken immigration system into the 21st century. We must move transient workers out of the shadows. We must ensure the security of our borders,” Cornyn said. Cornyn introduced the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2003 in July to strengthen homeland security efforts at the borders and address the needs of undocumented immigrants. the border terrorism conference was hosted by Gov. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. The conference brought together federal, state and local officials to address terrorism preparation needs including detection, investigation and coordination. Cornyn hosted a meeting with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Derbez, Undersecretary for North American Affairs Geronimo Gutierrez and Mexico’s U.S. Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer in Washington on Friday to address immigration reform, border security, trade and water issues. He also traveled to Mexico City in August to discuss similar issues and concerns with Derbez and Gutierrez and Secretary of the Interior Santiago Creel.--Below is the complete text of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks at the border terrorism conference as prepared--Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s good to be back home here in Texas, and it’s especially good to see so many familiar faces here in San Antonio. My job is to kick things off for you today, and I see that you have some excellent speakers. This conference is of great importance to the people of Texas and Mexico. I hope that there will be some great dialogue to come out of it, and I’d like to thank Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for sponsoring it. Over the August recess, I had the opportunity to travel along the Texas border and meet with many other dedicated men and women who heroically labor on the front lines to enforce the law and keep America secure. I was impressed by their dedication and professionalism. I also listened to their concerns, and I saw first hand the challenges that they face every day. I was troubled by what I saw. The sheer number of potential security risks, the horrible costs of human smuggling, and the enormous gap between the resources offered to border agencies and the resources needed to enforce the law are issues that have gone unaddressed by the federal government. in Washington, there are some issues that are considered “third rails” – the untouchable policy debates that, the conventional wisdom goes, smart politicians will avoid at all costs. We are told to tolerate the status quo, and leave the tough issues for another day. But all too often, those issues are also the ones that are the most important – ones that we, as representatives of the people, have the greatest duty to address. The people do not elect us to make the easy decisions, but the hard ones. And when change does come, it comes because of people who are ready and willing to stand up, despite the conventional wisdom, and speak the truth. I’m reminded of something the great Sam Houston, whose seat I am honored to hold in the Senate, once said: “The time is fast arising when facts must be submitted in their simplest dress.” I believe that time is now. The facts about our border security merit our attention and our action. Token answers and political games are not acceptable. For too long, we have failed to address the flaws in our nation's border and immigration policy. This issue has gained even more urgency in a post 9/11 world. Yet special interest groups still dominate the discourse, promoting their ideology over America’s security, and employing the potent but morally repugnant rhetoric of fear. I believe that we allow these groups to decide these issues by default at our own peril. we must acknowledge that we have done far too little to reform a system that cries out for change. The fruit of our current border policy is death, danger, and denial. I am convinced that we must finally recognize the truth about our border with Mexico. Every day, families, businesses, and workers cross the border. They own property on both sides of the border. They marry and raise families across the border. They fill jobs and they create jobs. They work and they live across national boundaries. our border should not be an obstacle to these legitimate and beneficial endeavors. But our border with Mexico cannot remain America’s back door, where smugglers, drug dealers, and even terrorists can cross back and forth undeterred. I am convinced that the challenges of cross-border contraband and human smuggling, narcotics traffic, and terrorism are inextricably linked, and must be addressed. there at as many as ten million individuals who are in this country illegally; our homeland security demands an accounting of the identities of these individuals, their reason for being here, and a judgment as to whether they pose a danger to our citizens. We can no longer deny both the sheer number of undocumented immigrants in our country and the extent of our economy's dependence on the labor they provide. our relationship with Mexico, an important ally and trading partner, is a prime example of the ramifications of the tired old status quo. On my recent visit to Mexico, I came away encouraged by the government’s efforts to end corruption and address these problems, working alongside their American counterparts. Mexico recognizes that the current status is one that sucks away their nation’s greatest resources – the young, entrepreneurs who risk their lives to come to America seeking better wages and better jobs. This migration drains the lifeblood of people, knowledge, and capital out of our southern neighbor, undermines their economy, and systematically erodes the Mexican middle class. the American need for security and the needs of the Mexican economy, government, and society all suffer under the status quo. I believe that a comprehensive guest worker program is a critical first step towards improving this system, and that is why I have introduced the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2003 in the Senate. the United States was built on the labor, industry, and initiative of immigrants. The immigrant character that undergirds our country and enriches our society is expressed through our art, music, and culture--the fulfillment of one of America's greatest gifts to the world: the promise of thriving multi-ethnic democracy. In every war America has fought, from the Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom, brave immigrants have fought alongside American-born citizens, with distinction and with courage. And throughout history, those who have longed for the blessings of liberty have looked to America as a beacon of hope, freedom, and the opportunity of a better life. the American Dream itself is rooted in the immigrant spirit. What sets this country apart is our conviction that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not just American rights, but the gift of a benevolent Creator to all humanity. And so America has always welcomed immigrants from every shore, saying: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” the guest worker program I have proposed acknowledges the vital role hard-working immigrants play in our economy and creates a comprehensive program, which will serve as an important step toward reestablishing respect for our laws and restoring dignity to immigrants who work here. It will enhance America's homeland security, facilitate enforcement of our immigration and labor laws, and protect millions who labor today outside the law. This program will benefit all participating nations and their citizens who wish to work in the Unite