Opioid Epidemic (Executive Session); Congressional Record Vol. 167, No. 55
(Senate - March 24, 2021)

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[Pages S1734-S1741]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                            Opioid Epidemic

  Mr. CORNYN. Madam President, as we all know, over the last year, 
COVID-19 has taken center stage as the No. 1 public health crisis 
facing our Nation. No community has been spared from the devastation 
caused by this virus, which has claimed more than 540,000 American 
lives.
  But beneath the surface, the problems we were facing before the 
pandemic still exist, and, in many cases, they are getting worse. A 
year of stress, isolation, and loss has taken a serious toll on 
America's mental health and has led to increasing rates of anxiety and 
depression.
  These same factors have led to an increase in domestic violence as 
families have spent more time at home, often while battling the stress 
of job losses, financial difficulties, and virtual learning.
  And, of course, there is the opioid epidemic, which continues to 
destroy communities across our country.
  In 2019, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths in America--
70,000. We are still waiting on the complete figures for 2020, but 
preliminary data shows that things are trending in the wrong direction. 
From June 2019 to May of 2020, more than 81,000 Americans have died 
from overdoses.
  We know a significant portion of those deaths involve heroin--roughly 
20 percent of those who overdosed in 2019. According to the Drug 
Enforcement Agency's ``National Drug Threat Assessment,'' the vast 
majority of that heroin comes from Mexico, a staggering 92 percent.
  As we have discussed the crisis at the border, I have talked about 
ways the surge of unaccompanied children affects Customs and Border 
Protection's ability to carry out its other missions, including 
stopping the flow of these illegal drugs. Time spent processing and 
caring for children means less time on the frontlines catching or 
deterring the cartels from moving their poison across the border into 
the United States.
  A Bloomberg report last year brought another aspect of this epidemic 
to light: the fact that chemicals made in the United States by U.S. 
companies were key ingredients in the manufacturing of heroin in 
Mexico. One of those companies is Avantor, a Fortune 500 company that 
supplies chemicals and lab materials and services across a number of 
industries. Avantor produces millions of products, including everything 
from medical masks to high-quality chemicals for pharmaceuticals, to 
kits for science labs in schools. But the focus here is on one 
particular chemical--acetic anhydride.
  This is an 18-liter jug of acetic anhydride, and you can see 
Avantor's name on the label. Avantor sells this through a subsidiary 
known as J.T. Baker into Mexico. Now, there are legitimate uses for 
acetic anhydride. It is used to make cigarette filters and chemicals 
used for photographic films, but this wasn't a photo taken in a 
chemical lab or a manufacturing plant here in the United States. This 
was taken by a Bloomberg reporter in Mexico who was able to purchase 
this chemical online, no questions asked. This should have never 
happened. Why? Because acetic anhydride is a highly regulated chemical, 
at least in the United States and, actually, around the world. Some 
companies even bar the importation of acetic anhydride because of its 
use in manufacturing illegal drugs.
  But the reason it is regulated is it is a precursor in the production 
of heroin. That is why many countries ban the importation outright. 
Without this chemical, it is virtually impossible to transform opium 
from a poppy seed into the more lethal drug of heroin.
  Acetic anhydride, as I said, is one of the most tightly controlled 
chemicals worldwide and has been for some time. The International 
Narcotics Control Board has been sounding the alarm on this dangerous 
chemical since the

[[Page S1735]]

2000s. In fact, its annual report has described horrific examples of 
the dangerous precursor chemical being diverted from legitimate uses to 
illegitimate uses, like making heroin.
  But the fact is, Mexico did not sign on to the International 
Narcotics Board protocol for this dangerous chemical until 2018, and 
even then, the enforcement, oversight, and control of this precursor 
was lax, at best. Even now, given the controls the cartels exert over 
large swaths of Mexico, I have no confidence that any controls on this 
chemical are effective in stopping illicit uses in that country.
  The Bloomberg investigation brought to light how easy it was for the 
cartels to get hold of this chemical. The reporters were able to 
purchase this 18-liter jug online or at a medical supply store. It 
didn't take any special requirements. You can imagine how easy it was 
for the cartels to get their hands on this chemical.
  While the controls, oversight, and enforcement of this chemical are 
much tighter in the United States and have been for years, it presents 
a constant challenge when Mexico does not have the same standards and 
enforcement.
  It presents an additional hurdle for the safety of our communities 
when U.S. companies, like Avantor, avail themselves of foreign 
subsidiaries to create and manufacture the precursor chemical in a 
cartel's own backyard, thereby facilitating the manufacture and sale of 
the deadly drug known as heroin.
  Of course, the winners in all of this are the cartels, in addition to 
their criminal network of smugglers, who move the drug across our 
border. The losers are our communities here in the United States and 
our loved ones who have been tragically affected by the opioid 
epidemic.
  This is an open-air drug lab in Sinaloa State, the home of El Chapo's 
drug empire. Cartels can use this single jug of 18 liters of chemical 
to make heroin in this drug lab that is concealed in a rural part of 
Mexico. They can make out of that one jug about 80 pounds, or 90,000 
hits, of heroin out of one jug. Of course, one hit is enough to destroy 
a life, but think of the pain that one 18-liter jug can inflict on an 
entire community, and Avantor knows that these jugs in this size can be 
easily concealed in something like the trunk of a car.
  One container of this chemical costs $324. The street value of the 
heroin that it will yield is at least $3.6 million. One jug at $324 can 
produce $3.6 million worth of street value in heroin. If this doesn't 
make your blood boil, you are not paying attention. After all, it is 
simply impossible to believe that Avantor, which is a Fortune 500 
company that is publicly traded here in America, was selling large 
quantities of this chemical--banned in many countries of the world 
because of its use in illegal drug manufacturing--and had no idea that 
it was being used for illicit purposes in Mexico. I don't think anybody 
would believe they didn't know.
  Bloomberg reports that this has been going on for at least the last 
10 years, when photos like this surfaced of the J.T. Baker line of 
product showing up in drug busts by the Mexican authorities.
  Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't stop there. The nominee for the 
third highest ranking position at the Department of Justice has 
profited to the tune of millions of dollars from Avantor stock. Vanita 
Gupta has been nominated to serve as the Associate Attorney General, 
and she is a very large shareholder in this publicly traded company. 
She owns millions of dollars of Avantor stock, parked in her own 
accounts and in the various trusts she has identified in her financial 
disclosures. This isn't just a blind investment in a mutual fund; this 
is the family business. Ms. Gupta's father is Avantor's chairman of the 
board.
  Following Ms. Gupta's confirmation hearing in the Judiciary 
Committee, Senators submitted questions for the record. One question 
was submitted by Senator Grassley, the ranking member. He asked Ms. 
Gupta if she were aware that Avantor was producing and selling chemical 
precursors used in the illegal heroin trade in Mexico.
  She said:

       I am aware of the allegations.

  The next question from Senator Grassley was about her financial 
holdings. Since she owns upwards of $55 million in Avantor stock, he 
asked if she had profited financially from this chemical trade of 
acetic anhydride by Avantor in Mexico.
  Ms. Gupta said:

       As a shareholder with no role in Avantor, I am not able to 
     say whether and how much I have profited from the various 
     parts of Avantor's business.

  I generally believe witnesses who testify under oath at Judiciary 
Committee hearings if there is no reason not to believe them, but it 
pains me to say that Ms. Gupta had already established a clear pattern 
of deception or of flat-out lying during her confirmation process.
  Ms. Gupta wrote an op-ed piece in the HuffPost on November 4, 2012. 
At that time, she said that States should decriminalize the possession 
of all drugs--not just marijuana but all drugs--for personal use.
  In the article, she said:

       States should decriminalize simple possession of all drugs, 
     particularly marijuana, and for small amounts of other drugs.

  That is a quotation. You can see that here. That would include 
decriminalizing fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other highly addictive, 
deadly drugs, including, of course, heroin.
  Well, that wasn't her answer at her confirmation hearing. When asked 
whether she advocates for the decriminalization of all drugs, she 
didn't mince words.
  She said:

       No, Senator. I do not.

  Now, I understand that it is natural for people to change their 
minds, especially in light of new information or new experiences. In 
Ms. Gupta's case, she noted that her experience at the Department of 
Justice and with addiction in her own family had led her to evolve her 
position on these issues.
  Yet, in responding to Senator Grassley's written questions, she 
wrote:

       I have never advocated for the decriminalization of all 
     drugs, and I do not support the decriminalization of all 
     drugs.

  That is demonstrably false. It is not true. She obviously held the 
view and felt so strongly about it at the time that she penned an op-ed 
piece in a national publication to advocate for the decriminalization 
of all drugs.
  When a person has been nominated for a leadership position at the 
Department of Justice, that person has a duty to be honest and 
forthright. If you have learned any new information and have changed 
your mind, that is fine, but you can't flat-out mislead about not 
having held beliefs that you clearly held in the past, especially when 
those beliefs could interfere with your ability to do the very job for 
which you have been nominated.
  It is not just with decriminalization that Ms. Gupta has misled the 
Judiciary Committee. As to qualified immunity, defunding the police, 
and the death penalty, Ms. Gupta has offered misleading statements on 
each of these issues. Policy differences, I can accept, but a lack of 
candor is disqualifying, especially for th Office of the Associate 
Attorney General.

  So when Ms. Gupta said she was unaware that Avantor was profiting or 
that she was profiting from the illicit manufacturing of heroin in 
Mexico, I do not find that credible. It is just another example of 
saying whatever you need to say to get confirmed by the Senate.
  The Department of Justice is the highest law enforcement Agency in 
the country, and Ms. Gupta has been nominated to serve as third in 
command. If confirmed, she will oversee the Civil Division, which will 
make major decisions about who will be investigated, who will be 
charged, and who will face punishment. Some of those potential targets 
include opioid companies, drug manufacturers, or perhaps even companies 
that are diverting precursor chemicals to the cartels. If you look at 
the work at the moment of the Civil Division of the Department of 
Justice, you will see a number of civil actions already related to the 
diversion of opioids and companies involved in illegal schemes. What 
does this say about her ability to supervise those kinds of cases?
  The Department requires professional detachment from even the 
appearance of impropriety, and this conflict of interest of Ms. Gupta's 
goes far beyond simple appearance. Ms. Gupta has financially benefited 
from the sale of this chemical to cartels in Mexico.

[[Page S1736]]

She has financially benefited whether she knew it at the time or not, 
but she won't even admit it. As a result, any case that has a nexus to 
drugs brought by the Department of Justice while she is at the helm 
will have a giant cloud cast over it.
  Finally, what I find most troubling, in addition to her lack of 
candor, is that Ms. Gupta has shown absolutely no remorse for the harm 
done by Avantor in facilitating the manufacture and sale of heroin here 
in the United States. I estimate that, in the last 10 years, more than 
100,000 Americans have died of drug overdoses associated with heroin. 
So I cannot support the nomination of Ms. Gupta to serve as Associate 
Attorney General, and I urge all of my colleagues to oppose her 
nomination as well.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Tennessee.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 903

  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam President, last month alone, more than 100,000 
migrants crossed our southern border. Our ports of entry are overrun; 
holding facilities are packed; and, yes, our Border Patrol agents are 
absolutely exhausted. They are exhausted. This isn't just a logistical 
challenge; it is a tragedy made worse by the Biden administration's 
disastrous open borders policies.
  The crisis is escalating, especially for the tens of thousands of 
children who have arrived in this country very much alone. 
Unaccompanied minors accounted for nearly 10 percent of all migrants 
who crossed our border last month. That is roughly 10,000 children a 
month walking into chaos.
  Anyone paying a bit of attention knows what is going on here. Customs 
and Border Protection has been sounding the alarm on the connection 
between children and human trafficking for years. The coyotes, the 
cartels, and the gangs use children as drug mules. They use them as sex 
slaves. If you don't believe me, ask anyone with the CBP why they 
administer pregnancy tests to little girls as young as 13 as soon as 
they arrive at the border.
  This is a heartbreaking situation. These children are living in hell, 
and it is getting worse. False claims of family ties have fueled a rise 
in fraudulent asylum claims and in human trafficking. Adult migrants 
are making arrangements with cartels and smugglers to borrow children. 
They claim kinship and use that relationship to bolster a fraudulent 
asylum claim. And what do they do when they have gotten what they want? 
They send the child back across the border to start the entire 
nightmarish process with another stranger. That is correct. This is 
called child recycling, but I think ``recycling'' is an odd choice of 
words to describe one human being treating another human being like a 
piece of garbage. Again, this is heartbreaking.
  If you want to get an idea of how big a problem we have, consider 
that the Department of Homeland Security says that, over the past 
decade, they have seen a 1,675-percent increase in asylum cases.
  In 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement implemented a pilot DNA 
testing program to try to stop this rampant exploitation. They found 
that 20 percent of all kinship claims they were able to screen were 
lies--20 percent.
  This is a humanitarian crisis, an environmental crisis, and a health 
and safety crisis. The Biden administration has lost control of this 
situation, but there are things we can do right now to protect these 
children and put the smugglers in check.
  This week, I introduced the End Child Trafficking Now Act, which 
would require our border agents to administer DNA tests to adult 
migrants claiming kinship with a minor without migrants' having the 
legal documentation to prove it.
  If the adult refuses, they will be immediately deported. Furthermore, 
the bill mandates a 10-year penalty for all alien adults who lie about 
their relationship with a minor.
  The test is simple. It takes about 90 minutes. Ninety minutes could 
mean the difference between that child finding safety in the United 
States and that child being dragged back to a cartel.
  We are on pace to see 17,000 more unaccompanied minors arrive this 
month. ICE proved this testing strategy can help protect them. There is 
no valid, fact-based reason not to do it.
  Madam President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous 
consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further 
consideration of S. 903 and the Senate proceed to its immediate 
consideration. Further, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there an objection?
  The Senator from California.
  Mr. PADILLA. Reserving the right to object, Madam President, I share 
my colleague's desire to prevent child trafficking. Trust me, as a 
parent, I know it is a laudable goal. But as drafted--as drafted--this 
bill would create enormous and instant chaos at airports around the 
country and every other port of entry.
  As written, it would require every foreign family who seeks admission 
to the United States, even just for a family vacation, to have a third 
party witness a test to their affiliation or else submit to a DNA test. 
I can't imagine any of our airports have the resources to implement 
this. It would simply lead to the same chaos we saw after the 
implementation of President Trump's Muslim ban, or worse, it would 
overwhelm our law enforcement officials and create bottlenecks at 
customs for citizens and noncitizens alike, not to mention the many 
legal and ethical questions as it pertains to genetic privacy and the 
storage of that information.
  I would be more than happy to sit down with my colleague from 
Tennessee in the context of a larger discussion about immigration 
reform to see how we can ensure that we include provisions to prevent 
child trafficking, but I don't think this bill as drafted will actually 
accomplish that goal, and so I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
  The Senator from Tennessee.
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam President, I think my colleague understands 
that this bill would apply to individuals, to adults who cannot show 
kinship and do not have legal documentation.
  We know that human trafficking, sex trafficking, and child 
trafficking have become a major industry. We know that child recycling 
is a practice that is used by the cartels. We know that they are using 
this to move adults into the country; thereby, this is something that 
would put the cartels in check and show that we are not going to stand 
for them recycling children, claiming kinship to children who are not 
theirs, and trying to move drug smugglers and cartel members into this 
country.
  Mr. PADILLA. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Baldwin). Without objection, it is so 
ordered.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 890

  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I rise today to bring attention to the 
serious humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Right now, as we 
speak, thousands of children have entered the United States illegally 
and sit in crowded detention centers wrapped up in emergency blankets, 
hundreds, even thousands, of miles away from home. They are without 
their families and without their parents. Many of them have been 
trafficked and have been physically and sexually abused along the way.
  U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that just last month 
alone, 29,792 unaccompanied children came across our border, including 
2,942 children under the age of 12. All of these children came here 
without their parents, and they have come here in large numbers because 
they know that President Biden is promising them amnesty.
  The illegal immigrants coming across our southern border right now 
are not just children. President Biden's Secretary of Homeland 
Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has said: ``We are on pace to encounter 
more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 
years.''
  In February, more than 100,000 illegal immigrants came across our 
southern

[[Page S1737]]

border, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is 3 
times the number of illegal immigrants who came through the southern 
border in February of 2019, and it is almost 6 times the number of 
illegal immigrants who came through our southern border in February of 
2018.
  The Biden administration refuses to call this a crisis, but that is 
what it is. We have a humanitarian crisis, and we also have a security 
crisis.
  Of the over 100,000 illegal immigrants who came here in February, 71 
percent of them are single adults, according to the Pew Research 
Center.
  The Biden administration's policy has been to welcome these illegal 
immigrants and to halt or slow deportations as much as possible. When 
Joe Biden became President, he immediately halted construction of the 
border wall. He ended the ``Remain in Mexico'' policy, an incredible 
foreign policy victory President Trump negotiated with Mexico, which 
stipulated that illegal immigrants from Central America crossing 
illegally through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States would stay 
in Mexico during the pendency of their proceedings. President Biden 
ended that, ripping apart that international agreement, and, instead, 
he reinstated the failed policy of catch-and-release.
  So now when we apprehend illegal immigrants, we let them go, 
including illegal immigrants who are criminals and who are convicted 
criminals guilty of violent crimes. President Biden's political 
decisions have produced a crisis and a crisis that is growing.
  What the Biden administration has made clear in the last 2 months is 
that their priority is illegal immigrants and not American citizens. 
That is why, in just a moment, I am going to propound a unanimous 
consent request that the Senate pass Kate's Law. Kate's Law is named 
for Kate Steinle, who was 32 years old when she was tragically killed 
on a San Francisco peer by an illegal immigrant who had several felony 
convictions and had been deported from the United States not once, not 
twice, not three times, not even four times. He had been deported five 
times. By the revolving door of our border, this violent criminal kept 
being deported, and he kept coming back, and he kept coming back, and 
he kept coming back. And beautiful Kate Steinle was shot and killed 
because of our broken immigration system.
  Kate's Law is commonsense legislation. It would amend Federal law to 
impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years for any illegal reentry 
offense. Kate's Law is critical to ensuring that illegal immigrants who 
have been deported, especially those with violent criminal records, are 
deterred from repeatedly entering the country illegally over and over 
and over again. If the illegal immigrant, violent criminal wh killed 
Kate Steinle had been in prison for illegally entering the United 
States the fifth time, Kate would still be here today.

  I have had the opportunity to meet Kate Steinle's family. They don't 
understand why our system is broken. They don't understand why we keep 
letting in violent, criminal, illegal aliens over and over and over 
again. And I will tell you, the American people--roughly 80 percent of 
Americans--agree with Kate's Law. This is commonsense legislation.
  We are about to see a Democrat object to it because today's 
Democratic Party doesn't care what the American people say. But if this 
were in the realm of sanity, Kate's Law would pass 100 to nothing. 
Look, we can have disagreements about legal immigration, about what the 
rules are, but when it comes to violent, criminal, illegal aliens who 
enter the country illegally over and over and over again, it ought to 
be real simple. We ought to be able to come together as Democrats and 
Republicans and say: All right, let's draw the line there. We don't 
need more murderers in America.
  I have spent a lot of time down in the valley and at the Texas 
border. I have spent a lot of time with agents from the Border Patrol. 
Tomorrow, I am going back to the border to see for myself what the 
conditions are like right now. I am leading a delegation of 17 other 
Senators, and we are going to go talk to Customs and Border Patrol 
agents. We are going to meet with CBP leadership. We are going to meet 
with law enforcement and community leaders. We are going to tour the 
detention facilities directly.
  Now, you may not see that on TV because the Biden administration is 
refusing to allow the press to see the facilities. For 4 years, 
Democrats went on and on and on about kids in cages. Now, those cages 
were built by Barack Obama, and they are bigger and fuller under Joe 
Biden. And the Biden administration doesn't want you to see the Biden 
cages. So they have declared a media blackout, that reporters are not 
allowed.
  The Trump administration allowed the media to go to the border. The 
Obama administration allowed the media to go to the border. The Bill 
Clinton administration allowed the media to go to the border. The 
George W. Bush administration allowed the media to go to the border. 
But Joe Biden wants to cover up the crisis that his administration has 
created, and it is a crisis that, sadly, Senate Democrats are complicit 
in creating as well.
  We have yet to have a single Senate Democrat willing to break with 
the Biden administration on the unfolding humanitarian crisis on the 
border. The worse it gets, the more kids who are abused, the more kids 
who are assaulted, the more Americans who are put at risk of COVID, and 
the more Americans who are put at risk of violent crime. At some point, 
I hope and pray we will see Senate Democrats willing to say: Enough is 
enough. It is time to stop being angry partisans, and it is time to 
come together with common sense and protect the American citizens.
  For that reason, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous 
consent that the Committee on the Judiciary be discharged from further 
consideration of S. 890, and that the Senate proceed to its immediate 
consideration; further, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. LUJAN. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The junior Senator from New Mexico.
  Mr. LUJAN. Madam President, there is not a single Democratic Senator 
in this body who believes that someone who commits a violent crime 
should not feel the full weight of the U.S. judicial system for their 
crimes. I hope my friend from Texas would agree with that. I don't 
think there is a Member in this body--Democratic, Republican, 
Independent, the staff--not a one. I think the same holds true for our 
colleagues who work just down the corridor from us in the U.S. House of 
Representatives.
  Now, we must do everything in our power to make certain that those 
engaged in violent crimes face prosecution and feel the full weight of 
the law. That is not just bipartisan; that is the right thing to do.
  Where I disagree with my colleague is the assertion that immigrants 
are inherently criminal. They are not. They are people whom our kids go 
to school with, whom we work with, who grow our food in America, who 
work to prepare that food or even stock the shelves, teach in 
classrooms, serve in the U.S. military defending our freedoms in the 
United States of America.
  So to my friend from Texas, this seems to be a continuance of the 
harmful proposals from the Trump administration. I certainly think that 
many of my colleagues from the other side of the aisle in the U.S. 
Senate also disagree with the hateful pronouncements from Steve Miller. 
This feels like a continuance of that, to strike fear in Americans and 
to breed distrust in immigrants.
  Now, I agree with my colleague that we have to work together to stop 
that false narrative. This false narrative must stop because it is not 
contributing to fixing the broken immigration system we have in the 
United States.
  I agree with my colleague that we should come together and work in a 
bipartisan way to learn from one another. I am new to this Chamber, but 
I am not new to these challenges.
  I certainly hope that my colleagues who are traveling to the border--
and I commend them for doing so because this is an important 
conversation we should be having. I hope they travel to Matamoros. I 
don't know if my colleague from Texas has done that. I did.

[[Page S1738]]

I traveled down there with a group of colleagues. We had a chance to 
visit with the Border Patrol in El Paso. We had a chance to visit with 
Border Patrol in Antelope Wells in New Mexico and Lordsburg in New 
Mexico. We have had the honor of traveling down into the Rio Grande 
Valley, down to Brownsville. We had a chance to visit with folks on the 
frontlines, not just wearing the green uniform of our Border Patrol and 
those working with the Department of Homeland Security but those who 
are also providing humanitarian relief.
  Those camps in Matamoros that I went to, they still exist. And one of 
the questions that needs to be asked is, What are these kids going 
through? What are they thinking about to travel thousands of miles 
because of the concerns that they have for their own health and well-
being? I hope we can have that conversation and solve this problem. So 
let's find a way to work together.
  I have said it before, and I will say it again: We need to go after 
criminals and felons, not children and families. In truth, I think we 
can get there.
  So as I close, I just say: Let's be a beacon of hope to the most 
vulnerable. Let's make sure we go after these criminals and felons, 
wherever they may be, and they feel the full weight of the law. But 
when it comes to the broken immigration system in America, let's work 
together to fix it.
  Therefore, I object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CRUZ. Madam President, I appreciate the warm sentiments of the 
Senator from New Mexico, but the American people can distinguish the 
difference between talk and action.
  The Senator from New Mexico suggested that all Democrats support 
holding criminals to account. I would suggest the facts are precisely 
to the contrary.
  Just 2 weeks ago, on the floor of this body, we introduced an 
amendment to provide that $1,400 government stimulus checks should not 
go to criminals currently in prison. Every single Senate Democrat voted 
against that. That amendment failed by one vote. If even one Democrat 
had said ``OK, that is reasonable,'' it would have passed.
  Yesterday, I introduced multiple unanimous consent requests to stop 
money from going to convicted criminals in prison and to send the money 
instead to the Crime Victims Fund. A Democrat objected.
  I then said: All right, if you don't want to do all criminals, how 
about murderers? Can we agree, if you were convicted of homicide, if 
you killed somebody, let's not send you a government check; let's send 
it to the Crime Victims Fund? The Democrats objected.
  I said: All right, how about rapists? The Democrats objected.
  I said: How about child molesters? Surely, we can all agree child 
molesters are not worthy of a $1,400 taxpayer government bonus given by 
the Democrats. The Democrats objected.
  So with all due respect to my friend from New Mexico, it is not the 
case that Democrats support holding prisoners to account.
  Today, in the Rules Committee, the Democrats are pushing forward an 
election bill, the Corrupt Politicians Act, which would allow every 
felon in America who has been released from prison to vote. It would 
allow murderers to vote, rapists to vote, child molesters to vote. So 
it is not the case that Democrats are willing to stand up to violent 
crime.
  Now, there are a couple of things that the Senator from New Mexico 
said that I wrote down. He said the only thing he disagreed with was 
``the assertion that immigrants are inherently criminal.'' Well, I 
challenge anyone watching this exchange to read the transcript.
  I am glad he disagrees with that assertion. That assertion never came 
from my mouth. I am the son of an immigrant who came from Cuba. We are 
a nation of immigrants. I am not remotely asserting that immigrants are 
inherently criminal. There is a right way to come, and that is to come 
legally.
  But case law isn't about immigrants generally; it only applies to 
criminals. It is immigrants that have a criminal conviction, that have 
an aggravated felony conviction. So when my friend from New Mexico says 
that we need to focus on felons--and he closed his remarks with the 
following: ``We need to go after criminals and felons, not children and 
families''--the case law does exactly that.
  If the Senator from New Mexico believes the words he said, the next 
words out of his mouth would not have been ``I object.'' By virtue of 
objecting, he prevented us from, in a bipartisan way, going after 
criminals and felons. Case law is targeted at those criminals and 
felons. It is not targeted at kids; it is targeted at criminals and 
felons.
  I would ask the Senator from New Mexico and every Senate Democrat: 
What would you say to Kate Steinle's family? I have heard them testify 
in the Senate Judiciary Committee. I have visited with them personally. 
If you were looking them in the eyes, what would you say to a system 
where Kate Steinle's murderer was deported five times--multiple 
criminal convictions?
  I am the original author of Kate's Law. We have voted on this on the 
Senate floo multiple times. Every time we have voted, every single 
Democratic Senator has voted against Kate's Law. You don't get to vote 
against Kate's Law, you don't get to vote against stopping violent 
criminals from repeatedly entering the country illegally, and then 
claim you are against violent criminals repeatedly entering the country 
illegally.

  Actions mean more than words, and, unfortunately, the actions of 
today's Democratic Party are extreme and out of touch with the American 
people we were elected to represent.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The junior Senator from Florida.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 948

  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, I rise today to discuss 
another issue in the Democrats' massive COVID spending bill that we 
need to fix.
  My Democratic colleagues want to keep spending into oblivion, taking 
our national debt to $30 trillion. This would be bad enough on its own, 
but tucked into the bloated spending package were new tax hikes on 
self-employed individuals.
  President Biden and the Democrats didn't talk about it, and they 
certainly aren't talking about it as they travel the Nation to brag 
about their bad bill.
  Democrats are quietly raising taxes, hoping the American people don't 
notice. The $1.9 trillion so-called American Rescue Plan Act, of which 
less than 10 percent went to actually help fight COVID and 1 percent to 
vaccines, had several tax increases and burdensome reporting 
requirements, including one that significantly impacts the gig 
workers--those who have been severely impacted by the coronavirus 
pandemic.
  Starting in 2022, this bill requires many contractors with gig 
economy companies like Uber, DoorDash, Airbnb, and Lyft to file 1099 
forms when they previously would not have. The new requirement 
dramatically lowers the annual 1099 reporting threshold from $20,000 
and 200 transactions to just $600 and eliminates the transaction 
minimum.
  In late February, before the Democrats rushed their spending bill 
through Congress on a purely partisan basis, a coalition of groups 
wrote to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer, asking that this onerous 
new provision, which has nothing to do with addressing the coronavirus 
crisis, be removed or at least reconsidered. The letter was signed by 
groups such as the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, the 
National Asian American Chamber of Commerce, National Association for 
the Self-Employed, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the 
National Association of Women Business Owners.
  After receiving such a letter, one would think that Democrats would 
want to reconsider. Raising taxes and reporting requirements in the 
midst of a pandemic? This is never good policy, but I can't think of 
any worse timing. Of course, Democrats kept the provision buried deep 
within the bill, hoping the American public wouldn't notice.
  The Democrats' new reporting requirements are effectively a tax hike 
and will ultimately hurt low- and middle-income contractors, the self-
employed, and freelancers, many of whom have been devastated by the 
pandemic,

[[Page S1739]]

while Federal and State Governments will collect billions more in 
income tax revenue.
  My Democratic colleagues want the American public to believe this is 
about catching tax cheats. And, to be clear, any attempt to evade taxes 
and defraud the public by not following the law should be condemned, 
and Congress should appropriately address it. However, a massive new 
reporting requirement of gig workers, many just trying to make ends 
meet in the midst of this pandemic, is not about catching tax fraud. It 
is about punishing the self-employed and raising revenues for the 
Democrats' massive spending plans.
  It wasn't that long ago that President Biden promised that he 
wouldn't raise taxes on anyone making under $400,000. Obviously, that 
was not true. But this isn't the first time Democrats have tried to 
quietly increase taxes and saddle the self-employed with new 
requirements like this. They did it with ObamaCare when they required 
businesses to send 1099 forms for all purchases of goods and services 
over $600 annually. They quickly learned how unpopular and harmful this 
provision was, and they quickly repealed it. The Obama administration 
even praised the repeal as a ``big win'' for the self-employed. I guess 
some never learn.
  What I am proposing is very simple. It is what the Democrats 
supported in 2011 when they repealed this bad tax increase in 
ObamaCare.
  Today, I want to remove this new reporting requirement and simply 
reinstate the previous law back into U.S. code.
  Increasing reporting requirements on our gig workers will create new 
and unexpected challenges for independent, self-employed workers and 
entrepreneurs, who are already facing an incredible burden created by 
the coronavirus.
  Increasing costs and regulations on already struggling Americans is 
wrong, and I hope all of my colleagues will join me today and repeal 
this bad policy.
  Madam President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous 
consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S. 
948, introduced earlier today. I further ask that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. WYDEN. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Madam President, the Senator from Florida claims to be 
looking out for gig workers and freelancers. The reality is very 
different.
  What is in the bill, which the Senator from Florida apparently 
opposes, is a way to make sure that these workers can get the 
information they need to help meet their existing tax obligations. 
Without this information, for example, workers may lose out on benefits 
that would help them pay rent and buy groceries. They could 
inadvertently lose out on important tax benefits, like the earned 
income tax credit. The rescue plan, of course, expands the earned tax 
credit. We want to make sure that every eligible worker can get that 
financial help.
  Finally, without reporting, workers might jeopardize the size of 
their future Social Security benefits, putting their retirement 
security at risk.
  So what the Senator from Florida is up to here would deprive American 
entrepreneurs of the information they need to keep business records, 
comply with tax requirements, and claim important Federal benefits. For 
these reasons, I strongly object to this request for unanimous consent.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The junior Senator from Florida.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, that sounded good, but this is 
clearly a tax increase. It is a massive tax increase, and it is a 
massive new reporting requirement on already struggling Americans. Our 
focus ought to be on helping support American workers, especially these 
gig economy workers who have been hurt so badly.
  I am disappointed my colleague wants to increase costs and 
regulations on American families. What is strange is that my colleague 
from Oregon voted to repeal this bad provision when Democrats added it 
to ObamaCare. So what is crazy is, why is he OK today with raising 
taxes on the American people now? This is all part of the Democrats' 
tax-and-spend agenda, and it is just the beginning.
  Let's remember, with the last spending bill the Democrats passed, we 
will have $30 trillion of debt. As Governor of Florida, I worked so 
that we cut taxes 100 times, and we paid off a third of our State debt.
  We have to think that way here. How can we grow this economy and 
reduce the costs for Americans, not increase the costs to Americans? 
These bad types of policies will ruin our economy and a shot at the 
American dream, which we all believe in.
  I am going to fight every day to get the government out of the way 
and make sure that doesn't happen.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The junior Senator from Florida.
  Mr. SCOTT of Florida. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that at the 
conclusion of my remarks, I be allowed to present an excerpt of my 
speech in Spanish. I will provide transcripts both in English and in 
Spanish of those paragraphs.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


                   Unanimous Consent Request--S. 884

  Mr. LEE. Madam President, I have read the accounts and so have many 
of you. A young mother from Honduras, two young sisters from Guatemala, 
a 6-year-old child from El Salvador--they were all told by a local 
cartel that, for a price, a better life awaits them in America.
  They are told, as evidenced by those chanting ``Biden, Biden'' at the 
border, that this new President has opened the borders and that amnesty 
is imminent, so get in while you can.
  These vulnerable people are flocking to smugglers and violent 
criminals and paying them all that they have for their chance to get in 
while they can. In the last month, traffickers have allegedly made as 
much as $14 million a week smuggling men, women, and children across 
the border.
  Once indebted to cartels and coyotes, the price these vulnerable 
people pay is far more costly than money. According to media reports, 
men are used as slaves; women are raped endlessly. In fact, one-third 
of the women making their way to the border are reportedly sexually 
assaulted, and 68 percent of the people coming across the border are 
physically assaulted.
  Children are rented, trafficked, and ``recycled,'' as they put it, 
forced to pose as the child of one illegal immigrant after another to 
activate the so-called Flores get-out-of-jail-free card. One former 
Border Patrol agent told me that the smugglers prefer to use babies 
because they are unable to tell Border Patrol agents that these are 
not, in fact, their parents.
  What of those who escape the clutches of the cartels? Well, estimates 
of how many children are currently in Customs and Border Patrol custody 
vary from more than 4,000 children to well over 15,000. Thousands of 
these children are being held, packed into housing facilities, for well 
over the 72-hour limit required by Flores--and with no end in sight.
  The Biden administration is doing all it can to hide the humanitarian 
crisis created by its own immigration policies--a disaster that 
Secretary Mayorkas refuses to acknowledge as a crisis. It denied media 
access and appears to be enforcing an unofficial gag order on Border 
Patrol agents. Journalists have not been permitted inside the detention 
facilities since President Biden took office.
  Now, it shouldn't be a surprise to any of us that the Biden 
administration's open border policies have resulted in this 
overwhelming crisis--and a crisis it is. This is what then-Candidate 
Biden promised us in the very first

[[Page S1740]]

Democratic Presidential primary debate. He promised us that when he 
became President, there would be immediate surges along the border. 
Unfortunately, in this case, he has delivered exactly what he promised. 
How exactly did he deliver? Well, first, he made it known that once he 
was elected, the border would be open for business. Then he reversed 
course on a number of Trump-era commonsense immigration policies. This 
incentivized vulnerable people to entrust their lives and the lives of 
their children to dangerous coyotes and cartels.
  What are these policies? The safe third country policy, implemented 
by the Trump administration, requires asylum seekers to apply for 
asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive. President Biden 
has moved to repeal that rule.
  The expansion of the Flores Settlement agreement also creates 
perverse incentives in our immigration law. Flores is about protecting 
children, and yet, in the application of the expansion, we have put 
children in even greater danger of becoming victims of trafficking and 
cartel manipulation.
  The Biden policy of keeping all unaccompanied alien minors in the 
United States, as my fellow Senator from Utah has pointed out, actually 
incentivizes parents to separate themselves from their children by 
entrusting their children to a cartel or coyote to bring them to the 
United States for their chance at amnesty.
  By moving to loosen the requirements of asylum and expand its 
application, President Biden has invited immigrants, who could find 
safety in other regions of their own country or an adjacent country, to 
make the dangerous journey to the United States.
  What we need are clear requirements to preserve the opportunities for 
asylum for those who need it the most. America is the land to which 
those seeking a better life look for relief, and we should provide 
relief where we can. We also have a duty to protect our border, our 
citizens, and our laws, our national interests. At the very least, we 
have a duty to eliminate policies that empower cartels and coyotes to 
exploit women and children. We must stop incentivizing vulnerable 
people to make a journey that will very rarely lead to the outcome they 
desire.
  To this end, and together with Congressman   Andy Biggs and several 
of my fellow Senators, I have introduced the Stopping Border Surges Act 
to address some of the more egregious loopholes in our immigration 
laws.
  This bill remedies the expansion of the Flores Settlement agreement 
that puts so many children in danger by requiring the release of minors 
with any adult claiming to be the child's parent. It provides expedited 
processing for unaccompanied minors from all countries--processes 
currently available only to children from Mexico and Canada. Immediate 
processing will blunt the incentive for parents to send their children 
on this dangerous journey alone. In an effort to end the trafficking of 
children by cartels, it strengthens protections for children released 
to adults within the United States. It tightens the asylum process so 
that we can better serve those who genuinely need the protections we 
can offer, and it incentivizes immigrants to enter our country through 
official ports of entry.
  This bill offers a new commonsense series of reforms that will help 
stem the flood of immigrants at our border and free vulnerable women 
and children from the clutches of the cartels and of the coyotes. For 
that reason, I urge all of my colleagues to support it, to join it, and 
to vote for it.
  Now, having previously received consent, I would like to conclude 
these remarks in Spanish, remarks directed specifically to those who 
might be considering making the dangerous, perilous journey to the 
southern border of the United States before sending their families.
  (The English translation of the statement made in Spanish is as 
follows:)

       Please do not send your wives and daughters on this journey 
     only to be sexually assaulted by the coyotes and cartels. We 
     hear story after story of smugglers kidnapping women and 
     children and holding them hostage even after they cross our 
     border. In the year 2019, the New York Times documented 
     dozens of cases of these women. This is just one of those 
     stories involving Melvin, a 36-year old mother of three from 
     Guatemala:
       For weeks in that locked room, the men she had paid to get 
     her safely to the United States drugged her with pills and 
     cocaine, refusing to let her out even to bathe. ``I think 
     that since they put me in that room, they killed me,'' she 
     said. ``They raped us so many times they didn't see us as 
     human beings anymore.''
       Please, listen to Melvin's story. Do not make that the 
     story of your family.

  Madam President, as if in legislative session, I ask unanimous 
consent that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further 
consideration of S. 884; that the Senate proceed to its immediate 
consideration; I further ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
considered read a third time and passed and that the motion to 
reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. DURBIN. Reserving the right to object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Madam President, we face a challenge at the border; there 
is no question about it.
  It really strikes me as strange--maybe unusual--for Members of the 
Senate from the other side of the aisle to come and yearn for those 
wonderful days of the Trump administration when it came to the issue of 
immigration and border policy.
  Remember when we had the longest government shutdown in history, 
paralyzing immigration courts and other Agencies? It was, of course, a 
shutdown that was sanctioned by the President of the United States over 
his immigration demands.
  Under President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, 
incidentally, experienced unprecedented leadership problems. The 
Department of Homeland Security lurched from one Secretary or Acting 
Secretary to the next. Listen to this: There were six different 
Secretaries in that Agency in 4 years, only two Senate-confirmed--more 
Agency heads in the last 4 years under President Trump than in the 13-
year history of the Department of Homeland Security prior to President 
Trump. They couldn't keep anybody on the job. They quit. They were 
fired. Nobody could agree with this President's bizarre ideas on what 
to do with immigration. Are we longing for a return to those days?
  President Trump unlawfully diverted billions of dollars in Department 
of Defense funds to build a wasteful, ineffective border wall, which 
was supposed to be paid for by the Mexicans, if I remember, and then he 
created a humanitarian crisis at the border with a policy known as zero 
tolerance--zero tolerance.
  I remember when Attorney General Sessions came before the American 
people and actually quoted the Bible to justify the forcible removal of 
infants, toddlers, and children from their parents' arms. Over 2,200 
children were physically separated from their parents as part of the 
zero tolerance policy.
  It wasn't until a Federal court judge in Southern California finally 
said to the Trump administration, ``I demand that you account for these 
children, and I demand that you reunite them with their parents'' that 
they set out to do it. Today, years later, years after zero tolerance, 
there are still hundreds of children separated at that time who have 
never been reunited with their parents.
  Do we want to return to those wonderful days of the Trump 
administration immigration policy? I don't think so. Children in cages, 
children lost, adrift on the bureaucratic sea, doesn't speak well of 
America's values.
  President Trump tried to end asylum protections for children and 
other vulnerable migrants. He cut aid to Central America, directly 
harming efforts to fight poverty and violence in the region. More 
refugees were driven to our border because the President shut down 
legal avenues for immigration and blocked all assistance to stabilize 
the Northern Triangle countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
  Now comes the Senator from Utah--and he and I have worked on 
legislation together in the past. I know that we can find bipartisan 
solutions. I don't think this approach is one of them, but perhaps it 
is the beginning of a conversation.
  The President's former Republican allies in Congress claim that the 
real cause, the real problem behind immigration policy is humanitarian 
protection for children. They claim that we

[[Page S1741]]

can protect children by overturning these humanitarian protections, 
either that have been entered into in a consent decree in court or by 
law, and subjecting children at the border to indefinite detention and 
deportation without adequate due process. But there is no evidence that 
this will deter desperate families from fleeing to our border.
  There is one thing the Senator from Utah and I certainly agree on. 
Many of these children and families are being horribly, horribly 
exploited by coyotes and kidnappers and very bad people. Many of these 
people and their children are suffering in unimaginable ways because of 
this.
  I renew the plea that has been given across Central America by this 
administration: Don't send your people to our border. Don't send your 
children to our border.
  It is not something we should encourage under the circumstances. It 
has to be orderly, and this is not in many respects.
  There is no evidence that ending this humanitarian protection for 
children will deter desperate families fleeing to our border.
  The bill before us today includes no assurances that children will be 
humanely treated or that they will be safe from violence once they are 
deported. This notion that once these children come across the border 
or are taken into custody by the U.S. Government, that sometime--2 
weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks--later they are turned loose again does not 
dispense our moral obligation. We want these children to be safe, and 
that is what the laws are, the Flores decision and others.
  This bill does nothing to address root causes that are causing 
migrants to flee the Northern Triangle in record numbers. If people 
were migrating because of so-called legal loopholes, they would be 
coming to our southern border from all over the region.
  Instead, the vast majority come from three countries: Honduras, El 
Salvador, and Guatemala. Those countries have the highest homicide 
rates, some of them, in the world, and girls face a constant threat of 
sexual violence with little prosecution from local authorities. We are 
doing desperate things because of the desperate situations in these 
countries.
  We are told by the Senator that we have to overturn the bipartisan 
Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, which passed by 
unanimous consent in the Senate and was signed into law by Republican 
President George W. Bush. But the TVPRA ensures that the United States 
meets its international obligations to protect unaccompanied children 
seeking safe haven in our country. It was a response to bipartisan 
concern that children apprehended by the Border Patrol were being 
returned to countries where they might be exploited even more.
  Under TVPRA, unaccompanied children from the Northern Triangle are 
transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services and placed 
in deportation proceedings, which gives them a chance to finally make 
their case to a judge.
  Consider Samuel and Amelie, siblings ages 3 and 6, from Honduras. 
They arrived in the United States traumatized, ages 3 and 6. They said 
nothing--silent. After being transferred to HHS, Amelie revealed that 
both children had been raped by drug cartel members. Without TVPRA 
protection, Samuel and Amelie would have been returned to Honduras and 
almost certain further exploitation.
  Democrats are trying to work on a bipartisan repair of this 
immigration system. It is long overdue.
  In 2019, after President Trump finally agreed to end the longest 
government shutdown in history, Congress passed an omnibus 
appropriations bill that included $414 million for humanitarian 
assistance at the border and then passed an emergency supplemental for 
$4.6 billion of additional funding to alleviate overcrowding in 
detention facilities.
  In 2018, Senate Democrats supported a bipartisan agreement, including 
robust border security funding and dozens of provisions to strengthen 
border security, but President Trump threatened to veto it and, 
instead, pushed for his hardline plan with the largest cut in legal 
immigration in almost a century.
  When it comes to refugees, after World War II, when the United States 
sadly turned away hundreds and thousands of ultimate victims of the 
Holocaust and would not accept their refugee status, we set out to 
prove to the world that we had learned a valuable lesson, and we led 
the world in offering refugee status until President Trump, who brought 
the numbers down to record low levels. That does not speak well for the 
United States, or it shouldn't be a source of pride for anyone 
reflecting this administration.
  We need comprehensive immigration reform. I support it. Eight years 
ago, in 2013, I was part of the Gang of 8, a bipartisan group of four 
Republican and four Democratic Senators. We produced comprehensive 
immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate 68 to 32. The 
Senator from Utah voted against it. Unfortunately, Republicans who 
controlled the House of Representatives refused to consider it.
  So here is my invitation to the Senator from Utah and to everyone 
else interested. Let us sit down again and write that bill. Let's do it 
in a fashion that really does bring reform to our system.
  I just talked at a bipartisan meeting on the subject earlier. One of 
the Senators from a border State said: People in my State don't expect 
the Federal Government to do anything because it has been so many years 
since they have done anything.
  It is time for us to prove them wrong. We have the authority. We have 
the opportunity. We have the challenge.
  Making this sort of request on the floor, I know, is symbolic, but I 
have to say that it is not the symbolism we should follow, and I 
object.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
  The senior Senator from Utah.
  Mr. LEE. Madam President, I appreciate the sentiment expressed by my 
friend, my distinguished colleague, the senior Senator from Illinois, 
particularly when he expressed the desire no longer to have people send 
their children on the long, perilous journey from Central America to 
the United States. On that, he and I certainly agree, just as we have 
agreed on a number of other issues over the years.
  I do think it is regrettable that we are not able to reach this 
agreement today. This is something we ought to be able to solve right 
here, right now. This is a very dire set of circumstances.
  We have to remember what we are talking about is dealing with the 
Flores agreement. We are in a position where so many of the children 
coming up through these caravans are in danger because we have in place 
policies that require the release of minors to any adult claiming to be 
the child's parent. We ought to have expedited processing requirements 
for unaccompanied minors, just as we have in place already for 
unaccompanied minors coming from Mexico and coming from Canada.
  It makes me wonder: What is it about children from Central American 
countries--from any country other than Canada and Mexico--that makes 
them undeserving of that same expedited processing requirement? This is 
something we need to do.
  Yes, I understand that our immigration system is a mess and needs 
reform, but I don't understand why it is that anyone would want to 
accept the default assumption that we can't fix anything with 
immigration; we can't even fix this problem subjecting these 
unaccompanied minors from Central American countries, including 
Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Why can't we give them any relief 
here until such time as we can come up with a comprehensive immigration 
reform proposal?
  It is disappointing to me that we can't do that today. We will keep 
trying, keep moving on this effort. This is important.
  Look, regardless of where one stands politically, what party one 
belongs to, I don't think it is too much to ask to suggest that we 
shouldn't give kids over to anyone claiming to be their parent without 
proof, without processes to make sure that is a safe person. We 
wouldn't want our own children treated that way. We shouldn't treat 
them that way.
  Thank you.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Hassan). The Senator from Illinois.