Washington, D.C. – Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), Vice Chairman of the House Rules Committee, delivered the following remarks while managing the Rule Debate for H.R. 5585, H.R. 6678, H.R. 6679, and H.R. 6976.
As prepared for delivery:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the rule and underlying bills. Today, we are here to address an ongoing crisis. While this is not a new concept to this body, the word crisis has been a hard one for my friends on the other side of the aisle to absorb when it comes to our current situation at our southern border. Let me just put a few things into perspective: ·In 2023, Customs and Border Protection encountered over 2.5 million illegal migrants attempting to cross the U.S. southern border. ·In December alone, CBP encountered 302,000 illegal migrants attempting to cross the U.S. southern border - the highest number of unlawful migrant crossings in a single month in recorded history. ·In 2023, Customs and Border Protection confiscated almost 230,000 pounds of drugs, including 22,000 pounds of illicit fentanyl, being smuggled across the southern border. If this doesn’t sound like a crisis to you, I don’t know what would.
Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, I visited our southern border to witness firsthand the challenges faced by Texans and hear directly from Border Patrol agents and Law Enforcement officers on the front lines of this crisis. Magically, either by order of President Biden or the cartels, the eagle pass area was cleared out that day. If that is possible on that day when members of Congress are visiting, it is possible every day. Mr. Speaker, the President has every tool that he needs right now to stop the overwhelming flow of migrants on the border. The proof of this is that immediately upon taking office, President Biden dismantled the immigration policies that were put in place by the Trump Administration.
President Biden halted construction of the border wall, ended the Migrant Protection Protocols, also called the Remain in Mexico program, and restarted the dangerous “catch and release” program with the stroke of a pen. The consequences have been stark: record numbers of migrants crossing the border and increasing each month; record numbers of illegal aliens being released into the United States; an open season for drug smugglers, human traffickers, and Mexican cartels; and social support systems stretched to the breaking point not only in my home state of Texas, but in places across the country like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Mr. Speaker, this is not just an immigration problem, it’s a national security problem. We have a responsibility to make sure the laws of this land protect Americans and ensure their safety. Earlier this Congress, we passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act of 2023, to combat illegal immigration and ensure operational control over our southern border but the Senate has refused to even take a vote on the bill. Today, we take up four additional bills that will help undo the chaos caused by this administration to ensure that law enforcement – particularly the agents of Customs and Border Protection – are supported in their mission to keep our communities safe. This means closing loopholes that allow illicit behavior to go without punishment, which is exactly what the following four measures will do.
Last year, Customs and Border Patrol Agent Raul Gonzalez was tragically killed in pursuit of illegal migrants fleeing law enforcement in a motor vehicle. High-speed chases started by those breaking our laws are not uncommon. Currently, fleeing law enforcement in a motor vehicle does not carry immigration consequences for perpetrators, even in situations that result in the death of an officer like the one involving Agent Gonzalez. H.R. 5585, the Agent Raul Gonzalez Officer Safety Act, will change that by adding specific criminal and immigration consequences for individuals who operate motor vehicles while fleeing border patrol and law enforcement agents.
The penalties instituted by the bill include prison time and ensure perpetrators can be deemed inadmissible and deported from the United States. Preventing deadly accidents that endanger lives is also the focus of H.R. 6976, the Protect our Communities from DUIs Act. With a turn of a key, an intoxicated driver commits a crime and illegal migrants are no different. Tragically many of these incidents involve individuals who should not be in the country at all. Illegal migrants who have committed this offense are evaluated under the “crimes involving moral turpitude” standard, a difficult and complex legal analysis that results in long delays and lengthy legal proceedings.
H.R. 6976 will change this and provide immigration consequences for driving under the influence, rendering illegal migrants who have committed this offense inadmissible and deportable without a lengthy legal process.
In a similar vein, with identification fraud on the rise, H.R. 6678, the Consequences for Social Security Fraud Act, will ensure criminal or illegal migrants who commit Social Security and ID fraud can be removed and barred from the country.
Finally, we will take up H.R. 6679, the No Immigration Benefits for Hamas Terrorists Act. In October, the world watched in horror as Hamas – a designated terror organization – committed a vicious and evil attack on Israel. Twelve hundred Israelis, including American citizens, were murdered, and another two hundred and forty were taken back to Gaza as hostages. Terrorists who participated in, planned, or otherwise supported the October 7 attacks should not be admissible to the United States, full stop. There is no reason for a member of Hamas to ever be admitted into the United States. H.R. 6679 will make that a reality and ensure that we can prevent these deadly and evil people from ever entering our great country. Taken together, eradicating these gaps in our legal recourse will deter criminal activity and ensure that bad actors face appropriate punishment for their crimes. Mr. Speaker, Republicans have demonstrated that we are committed to governing for the American people and the American people have spoken. Their message to their elected Representatives is enough.
Enough with sending their tax dollars to process migrants that should not be in this country instead of enforcing the law. Enough with putting law enforcement, both at the border and across America, in harms way. Enough with the fear mongering and lies.
Mr. Speaker, I stand in strong support of the rule and underlying bills and urge my fellow Members to support rule.