BORDER WALL IS NOT ANTI-IMMIGRATION; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 9
(House of Representatives - January 16, 2019)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages H671-H673]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Grothman) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. GROTHMAN. Madam Speaker, I know we have had a lot of people 
talking today on the issue of the shutdown. I thought I would like to 
give a little different talk, or a little bit of explanation, as far as 
what is going on here, to the American people.
  The first thing that offends me is when people imply that the 
position of the President is that he is anti-immigrant. Every year, in 
this country, we swear in 700,000 new people to become citizens of this 
country--700,000. On a per capita basis, that is, for example, twice 
what Germany swears in and over 50 times the number of people who 
become new Mexicans each year.
  We should not apologize for swearing in 700,000 new people, and 
President Trump has made no effort to reduce that amount. He is just 
saying people who want to come here illegally should get in line and be 
one of those 700,000.
  I also want to point out, in addition to that, we let in another 
million people every year, primarily because they are relatives of 
other people who are already here. We let in over 180 million people 
for other reasons, including about 70 million people, every year, who 
want to work here.
  There is no reason why anybody should, under any circumstances, as 
President Trump let's these things go on, say that he is anti-
immigrant, or anybody who wants to build a wall is anti-immigrant, 
because that will not affect these very generous numbers.
  Now, let's look where America is compared to historically. We, right 
now, have a higher percentage of people born in other countries in 
America than any time since World War I, and those are people who we 
can confirm. It is very difficult to get accurate numbers on the people 
who are here illegally, for obvious reasons.
  We have had an increase in the number of people who speak a foreign 
language at home, and that is wonderful. I am sure all of our 
ancestors, or most of our ancestors, at one point spoke a foreign 
language. But it is nice if, over time, we accept enough immigrants 
that, at any given time, most of us are speaking a common language.
  The number of people who spoke a foreign language at home in 1980 was 
about 11 percent. It is now 21 percent.
  Again, these numbers have not caused Donald Trump to ask for a cut in 
legal immigration. The American people should realize Donald Trump and 
the people who want a wall are pro-immigration.
  But the next question is: Do we have a crisis?
  First of all, about 80 percent of the heroin in this country comes 
across our southern border. Now, some of it can be prevented by a wall, 
some can't. But the huge number of people who are dying around the 
country, to me, makes this a crisis.
  We are getting more and more children at the border. Why are we 
getting more children? Because, I think, the word is out, particularly 
in Central America, that if you come to America with children, you are 
going to be able to find a way to get in. We need a border wall, not 
only to prevent people from coming in, but to send the message that 
America is treating its immigration laws seriously.
  People who sneak across the border, who are, after all, breaking one 
law, while very few are horrible criminals, of course, are going to 
bring a given number of people who break the law. We believe, in the 
last 10 years, illegal immigrants coming across the border have, during 
their lifetime, been charged with over 1,000 homicides. We have enough 
high crime areas in America as it is without letting people come 
through here without being appropriately vetted.

[[Page H672]]


                              {time}  1930

  There is a huge healthcare cost to allowing our borders to be open 
because, of course, people come here without health insurance. Now we 
have the Governor of California openly saying that he wants to give 
free healthcare to all illegal immigrants.
  People disagree on the cost of illegal immigration to our country, 
but when you add up the healthcare and the welfare and the cost to the 
criminal justice system, organizations easily come up with costs of 
over $50 billion a year.
  Donald Trump is asking for under $6 billion for the wall, and that is 
one-time funding to build the wall. The cost of illegal immigrants is 
over $50 billion year after year after year. This is a country that 
already is over $22 trillion in debt. Can we really afford to be the 
healthcare provider for the entire Western Hemisphere?
  There are people who feel that Donald Trump has to compromise more, 
that he is being hard here. Donald Trump is not a perfect person. I 
have talked to him about some of his tweets, but Donald Trump has been 
very patient here.
  I don't think the American public knows or understands exactly why we 
have a shutdown. If we are going to fund a border wall, it is going to 
have to be part of an appropriation bill, which I think people back 
home would refer to as a budget bill. We don't refer to it as a budget 
bill, but I think people back home would say it is part of a budget 
  President Trump has been President now for 2 years. He has signed 
many appropriation bills, and, obviously, he wants a wall. But because 
he does not want to shut down the government, for 2 years, he has been 
signing appropriation bills without funding for the wall.
  Finally, in his third year, he has had to say: I am tired of signing 
appropriation bills which include much spending that he doesn't want, 
all sorts of provisions that are higher spending than President Trump 
wanted, but, finally, he had to say: I am tired of signing 
appropriation bills without getting my wall.
  I think that is a reasonable position.
  When we talk about the wall and the inability--I want to say we have 
good news here. About an hour ago, I noticed that eight Democrats left 
the door open. They were bipartisan toward building a wall, and I would 
like to thank those eight people for reaching across the aisle. But I 
have to wonder why we can only get eight Democrats to appear to say 
that it is okay to fund the wall.
  We have to remember that there is a very effective wall in the San 
Diego area that was built when President Clinton was President. It is 
well known that when President Bush was President, the second Bush, we 
built still more of the wall, and at that time prominent Democrats like 
Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer voted for the wall. Why 
is the wall now immoral?
  And, by the way, some of that wall funded during George Bush was 
built during President Obama's term.
  Why was it okay for Bill Clinton or George Bush or Barack Obama to 
build a wall, and all of a sudden we hear it is immoral for President 
Trump to want to add to that wall?
  I am not sure. I think part of it is a sad and unfortunate move to 
the left by not all, but by many Democrats who more and more are, 
whatever they say, for open borders. I think some of it is just pure 
party politics. They want to go ahead and let more people in here for 2 
years just to embarrass President Trump.
  But again, the American people should remember that for 2 years 
Donald Trump signed appropriation bill after appropriation bill. He 
wanted the wall. He didn't get the wall.
  Finally, he is saying: I am sorry. I desperately want to open the 
government, but I am going to ask members of the Democratic Party to do 
what they did under President Clinton or President Bush or President 
Obama and let me build more of the wall as well.
  Now, some people will claim that this is an expensive wall, and I 
agree that $5.7 billion is a large amount of money. But then we have to 
look at it in comparison to other things that this body funds without 
  The amount of money we are spending on this wall is about one-seventh 
of what we spend every year in foreign aid. A few people complain about 
that, but the vast majority of people in this body have no problem with 
voting for over $35 billion a year in foreign aid.
  All of a sudden, we are told that when it comes to building the wall 
for one-seventh of that amount, one time, and they spend this amount on 
foreign aid year after year after year, all of a sudden we are told 
this is too much money.
  And something I thought was a little excessive, there was a large 
increase in the defense budget last year, a little larger than I would 
have liked. The wall would cost about one-twelfth of the increase in 
defense spending since President Trump became President.
  It is about one-ninth of the increase--not the total, one-ninth of 
the increase--in nondefense discretionary spending, and it is less than 
one seven-hundredths of our overall budget. Is that really too much to 
spend that amount of money when we are spending so much money in other 
  The next thing I would like to address is this idea that the wall 
won't work.
  Under President Clinton, we built a wall between San Diego and 
Tijuana, and the border crossings at that time dropped 92 percent. It 
would be a great victory if we got the number of people coming here 
illegally every year to drop 92 percent. I would not say that is 
  I look at the border wall that Israel built when they were having a 
huge problem of people coming up into Africa and breaking the law by 
coming into Israel. Israel was getting about 1,800 new people a year 
coming into their country that they didn't think should be coming into 
their country. How many people came into their country in the last 
year? None. That border wall caused the number of people coming into 
Israel to drop from 1,800 a year to nothing.
  There are other walls around the world. There is a wall between 
Jordan and Syria and Iraq that has been somewhat successful in keeping 
ISIS out of Jordan. The interesting thing about that wall, it was, to a 
certain extent, paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. It baffles me that 
people around here have no problem paying for a wall for Jordan to 
protect itself, but all of a sudden if Donald Trump wants to build a 
wall for the United States of America, we can't get it done.
  Seventy countries around the world have walls. Ten countries in the 
EU states have walls. These countries are not building walls because 
they don't work. They build walls because they do.
  The next thing I will address, frequently people get up here and they 
preface their talk by saying everybody wants security. That is not 
true. There are, sadly, a lot of people around here who are for open 
borders. We just heard a speaker prior to me imply that building a wall 
was racist, which certainly implies that preventing people from coming 
into this country is racist, and they do not want to have this sort of 
  Keith Ellison, the new attorney general for Minnesota who used to be 
part of this body, recently said: I don't believe in borders.
  And this kind of thinking that maybe we don't need borders, maybe we 
just need one big country around the whole world, is more well known 
than one would think.
  There are sanctuary States, counties, and cities all around the 
United States. If people believe in border security, why, if you were a 
mayor, why if you were a county executive, why, if you were a Governor, 
would you say: We want a sanctuary State or sanctuary city where we 
can't ask people whether they are here legally or not?
  And that would include people in charge of doling out welfare 
benefits. It would include law enforcement. Obviously, people who run 
these cities and States do not think border security is an important 
thing, which is kind of scary.
  In the last session, we took up bills trying to sanction cities and 
counties that are sanctuary cities or sanctuary counties so they don't 
open themselves up and, in essence, beg people from other countries to 
come here.
  By the way, this includes the three largest cities of the United 
States: New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
  When Republicans tried to prevent this, I believe there were only 
three or

[[Page H673]]

four Democrats--and I love my Democrats, but there were only three or 
four of them who would stand up against sanctuary cities. That sure 
sounds to me like they don't consider border security that important.
  We have a new wave of people coming in saying that we don't need ICE. 
We don't need immigration enforcement. They are on record with this. 
Several people have signed on.
  Maybe I am wrong, but to me, if you are saying we want to get rid of 
the agency that enforces immigration, I think we can say there are a 
lot of people in this body who really don't want any immigration 
  In summary, I would ask the American people to look beyond some of 
the main talking points in the mainstream media. We are letting 700,000 
people here legally. We are not anti-immigrant. And that is before you 
talk about the tens of millions of people who are let in this country 
every year to work.
  This is a crisis. It is a crisis with regard to cost.
  It is a crisis with regard to the change in our fabric as we let 
people in here who commit crimes up to and including murder.
  It is a crisis insofar as we let people in here who wind up, some of 
them, adopting a welfare lifestyle, which will further erode the morals 
of America.
  Donald Trump has been very patient, waiting 2 years and signing bills 
with much more spending than he wants because he didn't want to shut 
down the government. I would now like to ask, in this third year, more 
than just the eight brave Democrats to stand up. If you want to, you 
can close your eyes and pretend that Bill Clinton or George Bush or 
Barack Obama was President, because we know then you wouldn't have a 
problem voting for it and open our government.
  I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the Federal employees who 
thought their jobs were secure and that every month they would be 
getting a constant paycheck. But because of playing hardball, treating 
Donald Trump differently than you would treat President Clinton or 
President Bush, we have a problem; and that is we do not have an 
appropriation bill that is an appropriate compromise like funding the 
wall would.
  And let me point out, even President Trump's request of $5.7 billion 
is a huge compromise. Several months ago, we were told we needed $20 
billion or $25 billion to fund the wall. Now we are dropping to $5.7 
billion. That is a huge compromise.
  Please give Americans the protection that Israel or dozens of other 
countries around the world have. Please allow us to build the wall.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.