Desert Invasion - U.S.
Congressional Record on destruction of border forests and border deserts
Testimony in U.S. House of Representatives of Congressmen Tancredo and Hoekstra
IMMIGRATION CONCERNS -- (House of Representatives - September 10, 2002)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon in order to bring to the attention of the body a serious, in fact I think an extremely dangerous, problem that the United States faces in the area of immigration and immigration reform and specifically the problems we face on our borders with people coming across this country without our permission, people we do not know, people we do not know why they are coming, we do not know who they are, we do not know what they are going to do here; and they are coming through in huge numbers.
The face of illegal immigration in my district may be people wanting to do work in the entertainment industry, people wanting to do work in the landscaping area, people working in restaurants; but the face of illegal immigration on the borders is much uglier, much nastier.
The face of illegal immigration on our borders is one of murder, one of drug smuggling, one of vandalism for all the communities along the border, and one of infiltration of people coming into this country for purposes to do us great harm. Most recently, an incident occurred in Arizona near the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument that I want to begin our discussion with today.
The situation in that part of the country is actually incredible. I cannot think of a way to describe it except to say that we are under siege, that there is an invasion. Near the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation in Arizona, we have about a 76-mile coterminous border with Mexico and this particular reservation.
The Tohono O'odham are the second largest tribe in the United States, second only to the Navajo; and they have been living peacefully in this area for centuries. But in the last several months, things have gotten very, very bad in this particular area as a result of the fact that there have been some efforts on the part of the INS, and also the Border Patrol, to strengthen our border security posts around Nogales and Tucson and San Diego. As a result, we have created sort of a funnel effect where 1,500 people a day are now coming across that 76-mile border, coming across illegally, through the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and up into Arizona, and, of course, spreading across the United States.
These are not just people looking for a job. They are not just folks coming because they are seeking the American dream. These people, many of them are coming because they are transporting drugs, working for Mexican drug cartels. Many of them are coming for purposes, as I say, that have nothing to do with the benign or even, some might suggest, positive intent of seeking work in the United States.
Just a few weeks ago, in this same area, we had a situation where two Mexicans had committed a series of murders in Mexico that were connected to drug activity. These people were evidently professional assassins. They killed four people in Mexico that were in a rival gang, in a rival drug cartel; and they were escaping into the United States where they were confronted by a member of the Border Patrol and a member of the Park Service, a park ranger.
When they stepped out of their cars, when our folks stepped out of their cars to go and confront these people, they were met by two individuals who opened fire with automatic weapons; and one man, Christopher Eggle, was killed.
A 28-year-old park ranger was killed. He was killed in the line of duty. He laid down his life in the defense of others, in the defense of this country, just exactly the same way men and women in Afghanistan, in the Gulf War, in wars throughout our history have done. Yet very little has been heard about his death here in this country, very little news has been made by this death, and I wonder why.
Well, I am here today, along with my friend and colleague, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra), who has in his district the parents of Mr. Eggle; and we are here today to make sure that people do hear about this event and that we do bring to the attention of the Nation and our colleagues the fact that people like Mr. Eggle are in fact putting their lives on the line on our borders; and they deserve every bit as much of our support and attention and concern as we approach 9-11 as all of the other folks who heroically defend America, whether they are the fire and police people in New York, or whether they are our troops that are perhaps being readied to go off to war in Iraq.
We need to bring Mr. Eggle and his comrades to the attention of our body.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra) to also say a few words here in this regard.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding, and I think that over the last period of time my colleague has been heroic in his efforts to educate the Congress on the challenges that face our Nation as a result of the conditions on our border. The conditions as we view them, the face of illegal immigration is one thing. In West Michigan it is another when one actually takes a look at it from the border and it is a very different reality that Kris Eggle faced in August.
Let me give a little bit of background about Kris. Kris was a 28-year-old National Park Service ranger. He was assigned to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument at the time of his death. My colleague has given us a little bit of the details about that, but if we go back, Kris was one of the best of the best. He graduated as valedictorian of Cadillac High School in 1991. He was an accomplished cross-country runner at Cadillac High School. He went on to be a top cross-country runner at the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors in 1995.
After the graduation he chose Government service as the field where he was going to commit his life to. He joined the National Park Service. He served at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where he served as a ranger on both the North and South Manitou Island. He had been stationed in Arizona since 2000. That is a little bit of background about Kris Eggle.
A little bit of background on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is one of our finest national parks. It has over, I believe, 327,000 visitors per year. It is just an awesome area that my colleague has visited on a number of occasions that we are trying to preserve. The disappointing thing is that over the last number of years as our border patrol has tried to control illegal immigration and illegal border crossings at the urban centers, what that has resulted in is that we have not stopped the illegal border crossings as we have just moved them from one part of the border to the other, and in this case we moved them to Kris.
I met with some of his supervisors this morning who indicated that one of the reasons that these types of individuals were in the area, these types of hit men, is that individuals like Kris were maybe doing their job too well. Last year they seized close to 750,000 pounds of drugs in the park, and this is the reason that folks on the south side of the border were maybe behind in their drug payments and these types of things which got them in trouble. But folks like Kris were going about doing their job and going above and beyond doing their job. Kris's love was the environment, in making sure that Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument lived up to our expectations for what we want our national parks to be.
As the border crossings and the illegal border crossings moved over to Organ Pipe, what he found was that he not only had to deal with 327,000 legal visits to the park, he also had to deal with over 200,000 illegal aliens.
Let me read a little bit about what Michelle Malkin says about what happened here. She writes and she talks about why Kris did not get much attention, or his death, while other seemingly less important events get more focus in today's society. Whereas someone like Kris is a true hero, some others that maybe make the national media are not. Here is part of what she had written: "The park where Kris had been stationed for 2 years, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, is considered the most dangerous national park system in the Nation, according to a national survey conducted by the Fraternal Order of Police. It is a magnet for illegal aliens and Mexican smugglers; some 200,000 illegal border-crossers and 700,000 pounds of drugs were intercepted at the park last year."
"Nonetheless, Eggle embraced his job. He was always cheerful, his co-workers said. A 'model citizen.' A 'quintessential American boy-turned-ranger.' He baked chocolate chip cookies for fellow rangers and entertained them with songs while on duty. Eggle's father, Robert, said, 'Kris was where he wanted to be, and he did what he wanted to do.' A native of Cadillac, Michigan, where he grew up on his family's 130-year-old farm, Eggle was an Eagle Scout, a high school valedictorian, a devout Baptist, and a champion cross-country runner for the University of Michigan. Former coworkers called the fleet-footed Eggle the 'Coyote' in honor of his running prowess."
"On August 9, Eggle's speed and dedication may have cost him his life. He and three U.S. border patrol officers responded after Mexican police reported that two armed fugitives had fled across the border into the U.S. A border patrol helicopter gave chase and directed Eggle and the other officers to where three suspects had ditched their vehicle. The American officers pursued the fugitives on foot as they ran into nearby bushes. One of the Mexican nationals was caught; in the attempt to apprehend the other two, Eggle was ambushed and shot by one of the suspects with an AK-47."
"The gunfire hit Eggle below his bulletproof vest. He died at the scene before an emergency helicopter arrived. At the memorial service in tiny Ajo, Arizona, this week, Eggle's casket was draped with an American flag and topped with the Stetson hat he wore on the job." He was buried in his hometown in Cadillac, Michigan, following services there.
Kris Eggle, after graduating, decided that he would serve the country that he loved. The folks that knew Kris said that he had one of the brightest futures possible at the National Park Service. The award that he is shown receiving here I believe was given to him in Arizona because where he earned the awards were during a training session, and rather than staying for the awards portion of the training session, he said "I want to get back to Organ Pipe. I want to get back to my job. I want to get back to my coworkers. I want to get back and do the job that I have been hired to do."
Kris, like all other fellow employees, took an oath to swear his allegiance to this country. Kris did his job. He did it magnificently.
The challenge that my colleague from Colorado and that Kris's parents have laid out to me is let us make sure that we give Kris's coworkers the resources, the protection, and whatever tools they need to minimize the risk that national park rangers take. They know the risks when they take the job. They are armed, they are given bullet-proof vests. But we need to make sure that we give them a job that minimizes that risk, that we really do have border security. I am sure my colleague may touch on that, but when we take a look at the issues that are associated with the border there, we recognize that we have given Kris and his coworkers a very, very tough and very, very difficult job. A small number of national park rangers supported and complemented with border patrol folks, but a small number of park rangers and 80 border patrol folks is a small number compared to 200,000 illegal aliens, many of whom are Mexican nationals who are coming to America, looking for a better life and really with no intent to do any harm or danger to our folks patrolling the border, but a small number of whom have used that border location and that border-crossing as a market of opportunity, coming across the border in SUVs, coming across the border heavily armed and with one intent, to get the drugs to market at whatever the cost. And if the costs are the lives of our national park rangers, our border patrol agents, or a gunfight with these individuals, those individuals are willing to take that risk and kill Americans for them to move their drugs into our cities, into our communities, into our schools, and to our kids.
Kris was at the front line trying to make sure that that did not happen. To him we owe a great debt of gratitude, to his service. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, his coworkers, and all that knew Kris, and I think that this Congress then also owes the family, the national park rangers, and American communities and schools and our children all over America the commitment that we will do what needs to be done on the border to ensure that these types of incidents hopefully will be eliminated or will be minimized. We know we can do it. The reason that there are fewer illegal border-crossings in the urban areas is that we put a focus and an emphasis on that. We now need to provide the border patrol and the national park service with the same resources that are essential to close and protect this section of the border as well as other sections of the border because as I talked with the rangers this morning, they recognize that if they close the border and are successful in getting the funding to make the border secure along Organ Pipe, that does not solve the problem. It may solve it for them, but they recognize that that is not enough because the land directly adjacent to Organ Pipe I believe is controlled by the Fish and Wildlife Service. So they do not want to put their folks at the Fish and Wildlife Service at risk just because they have gotten the resources to secure the border here.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for giving me time, for sharing this, and for the commitment that he made. He made the commitment to be in Arizona before this incident ever happened. He has been back in Washington showing us pictures of the border, describing the conditions, telling us what has been going on there. I believe he was at Organ Pipe just briefly or shortly before these tragic events of August 9, and he also took the time, the effort, and the energy that he attended the services back in Arizona for Kris, and I very much appreciate the gentleman's doing that and being a representative of this Congress to the National Park Service, to Kris's family, in demonstrating our concern and our commitment to them, and I can personally convey to him their appreciation for his being there and participating and leading these efforts to make sure that the risks of something like this happening in the future will be very, very much reduced.
I thank my colleague, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tancredo), very much.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear friend and colleague, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra).
This is something that, when I say it is a pleasure in terms of being able to represent this body, it is certainly not a pleasurable experience, but being able to represent us at the funeral of Kris Eggle, I was glad to be able to do that, because I wanted his parents to see that someone does know, someone does care; that the Congress of the United States, at least many Members of it, are well aware of the sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice that was given by their son, Kris, and by them giving their son in that regard.
The statements that were made that day, it was an enormously emotional funeral, as Members can imagine, of a young man well loved by all of his colleagues. There must have been a couple of hundred people there, 90 percent of whom were members of the Border Patrol, members of the Park Service, Forest Service employees and customs agents, all of them comrades-in-arms with Kris, and all of them talking about him in the most loving and glowing terms, those that knew him personally.
I remember his colleagues talking about how each day they would go out and he would be so enthusiastic about the job, about his responsibilities for the day. He would turn to his colleague and his co-worker and almost every day say something to the effect of, is there anything I can do for you today? That was one way of describing what Kris was like.
I also remember that his supervisor, the head of the Park Service in that area, got up and said, this death cannot be in vain. We have to recognize that there are things that this country needs to do in order to assure that someone else's son or daughter does not face the same fate.
We are at war on our borders. There is no other way of describing it. We ask men and women to go down there and put their lives on the line, just like we ask men and women to do it in the Armed Forces of the United States. But the difference with the war on our borders and perhaps the war that we are pressing, let us say, against terrorism is that I do not know if we have the will as a government to actually win that war.
I yield to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra).
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I would like to just build off of that comment.
Obviously, today is September 10. September 11 we will again remember, as we have for almost every day over the last year, the heroism of the firefighters and the emergency personnel in New York City; the same at the Pentagon; the folks on United Flight No. 93. They very much deserve that recognition, and I am pleased that we are able to do that. We recognize that we are now in a war on terrorism.
But as we have noticed, during the month of August, I had the opportunity to travel to central Asia and met with our troops in Uzbekistan, met with our troops in Afghanistan, saw our troops on the U.S.S. George Washington, saw them in Bahrain. There are a whole lot of people who have their lives on the front line each and every day in central Asia. Then we have individuals like Kris, who have their lives on the line each and every day along our borders.
America has so many people to be grateful for who are willing to make that sacrifice and that commitment to our country. They have very, very many different faces. It is the responsibility of this Congress that in each of those wars that we are engaged in, whether it is the war on homeland security to make sure that we are safe in our homes and in our communities, and those are emergency first responders; whether it is the face of the American troops that have taken the war to the terrorists, they have their lives on the line; or whether it is the individuals like Kris, who maybe come into a war unexpectedly, who are going in and wanting to protect our national environmental treasures and are finding out that all of a sudden they are in the drug war, we need to remember each of these.
It is a commitment and responsibility of Congress that in each of these situations where we ask our young men and women, and Kris was maybe one of the older ones. He was 28, and he would have been 29 on his parents' anniversary in the month of August. If we take a look at the young people on the U.S.S. George Washington, more than 5,000, and I call them kids, because the average age is 20 years old, and my oldest daughter is 20, we ask our young people, in many cases, to fight our wars.
We need to make sure that if we are going to declare these kinds of wars, that we need to be serious about equipping them and giving them all of the resources that are necessary to fight the war effectively. We cannot have them go in without the proper resources, and I think
this is an area where we need to take a look that says that we have declared a war on drugs, we have had it for a long time, but are we really properly equipping our borders to stop the flow of drugs into this country when through this 30-mile stretch of border there are, what is it, eight to 10 national park rangers there?
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I would tell the gentleman, it is nine rangers.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Nine rangers, along with some Border Patrol, who have pretty much single-handedly stopped over close to three-quarters of a million pounds of drugs, 700,000 to 750,000 pounds of drugs, in a single year.
Mr. TANCREDO. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Speaker, it is a fascinating thing, because I do not know if a lot of our colleagues, and I certainly do not believe a lot of the citizens of the United States, know the exact situation that we face on these borders, in our parks and in our national monuments.
Not too long ago I went down to the Coronado National Forest, not too far from Organ Pipes. The Coronado is one of the oldest national forests in the land. In 1906 it was created, a beautiful, beautiful environment that is being completely despoiled by the same thing, by massive numbers of people coming across illegally.
These people find that the terrain is rugged. They can hide more easily; and now actually we can fly over that and we can see where tracks have been worn into the land by so many people, by hundreds of thousands of people, so it looks actually like a spider web going out all over that particular forest area. Those tracks will not go away for many, many, many years.
Then they make a track and they think that we monitor it, so they will move over a little bit and move over a little. They think we put sensors out, so it just spreads out like that.
Trash, and it is the same thing in all our national parks in this area, the trash is enormous. The problem is with plastic water bottles strewn everywhere, hundreds of thousands, and clothing just tossed aside. They come through and they start warming fires in the night and walk away in the morning leaving them go.
When we got back from the Coronado, we left on a Sunday morning, and by the time we had gotten back, when I got back home to Colorado, 35,000 acres had been consumed in Coronado by one of these fires.
I am told by these folks who have been fighting these incursions, I guess there is no other way to put it, for years, that we have always had a lot of people bringing drugs through in our southern and northern borders; and, by the way, it is not unique to the southern border, but before when they would confront them, by and large they would drop what they were carrying.
They carry these 60- or 70-pound loads on their backs in these homemade backpacks, which, by the way, once they get to a part of the national park where another road has been cut in by their accomplices, a road used by trucks coming in to pick up the drugs, when they reach that, they unload the drugs and discard all of this backpacking material. They pile it up in huge, massive piles of this stuff all over the place.
He said that before when they would confront them, they would simply drop it and run. But now they are not. Now they are fighting back. Now they are opening fire. They are preceded by a guy with an M-16 leading a bunch of people carrying the drugs, and he is followed by a guy with an M-16.
Our park rangers, park rangers, for heaven's sakes, this is not really what they have been trained to deal with. Their responsibilities do not go to fighting drug cartels, but that is the position we have placed them in.
To their credit, as my colleague, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra), has said, they have interdicted hundreds of thousands of pounds of illegal drugs over the course of just the last year. But it is getting rougher. It is getting tougher. It is getting meaner. The cartel members are actually holding hostage some of the family members of the people who are transporting the stuff for them, so unless they make it all the way across and to their appointed site where they dump it off to a truck, their family member in Mexico is killed.
So that is why, that and other reasons, why we are now facing a different kind of threat down there.
Besides that, we were told, there is an ever-increasing number of what they refer to as OTMs, other than Mexicans, coming across the border. Now we see what they call an alarming number of people coming through from China and from the Middle East, coming through these areas. For what purpose?
What is our ability and desire to try to interdict it and try to stop it? If we do not intend to defend these borders, then we should not be putting people like Kris in harm's way.
If it is not our intent to actually secure the border, and if that means putting the military in there to help Kris and his compatriots until we can stabilize the INS, until we can actually reform that organization and get the Border Patrol, and believe me, the folks on the line are doing a great job. These guys and the ladies down there who are Border Patrol agents, they are park rangers, they are Forest Service personnel, I take my hat off to them. It was my pleasure, as I say, to go down there and talk to them and see and visit them as often as I could during the break, both borders. But they need help. They cannot do this alone. We have asked them to try to hold back a flood, and we have given them a sieve.
Unfortunately, this flood is getting more dangerous all the time. Not a month prior to this particular event, or no, I am sorry, it was May 27, again, not far from where this happened, not far from Organ Pipes in a place called Papago Farms, a Border Patrol agent on patrol confronted a Mexican military vehicle in the United States, a Mexican HMMWV [Humvee] with several members of the Mexican military on board.
When he confronted them, they got out. He decided that discretion was the better part of valor, since he was certainly outgunned and outmanned. When he was turning around to go get help, a shot rang out from the Mexicans. It went through his back window, hit the metal grate that separates him from the back part of his vehicle, and went out the right rear window.
That was on May 27. We have had up to this point in time 127 incursions of that nature since 1997, where Mexican military, Mexican federal police have come into the United States. Usually it is for the purpose of protecting a drug shipment. There is usually a large shipment coming through, so they will actually act as the protection for it, or they act as a diversionary tactic. They come in over here, and we naturally send people to find out what this is all about when we have Mexican military coming in; and a drug shipment comes through where we have pulled our people away.
This is what has been happening. Again, nobody has talked about it. An American, a person that is a member of our Border Patrol, is actually fired upon by another person who is a member of a foreign military service, and nothing is said or done around here, all because we are fearful of discussing this issue of immigration and immigration control; all because we are fearful of the politics of it.
I will tell the Members, and I know the gentleman feels this way, too, this issue, it is our responsibility, even if it is to our political peril, it is our responsibility as Members of Congress of the United States to live up to the oath of office that says we are going to protect this country, the people and the property of this country, from all those who intend to do us harm.
Part of that duty is to defend this border, or, as I say, to leave it. But we cannot continue in this halfway mode of creating a facade of protection, sending people down there like Kris, telling them to hold back that flood, but not really and truly doing what is necessary for fear that we would actually stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
There are all kinds of ramifications of that, political and economic. We do not want to deal with that, and we do not want to adjust our policies because we are afraid of the politics. I am not, and I know the gentleman is not, and I know there are other Members of this body who are not afraid to address this issue. There are hundreds of thousands of people like Kris who serve every day on that line who look to us for that kind of leadership and support. They see us as their only hope to ever get the job done.
And we have a duty to them to do everything we can. We ask them to do everything they can. We asked Kris Eggle to do everything he could do to protect that national monument, that national park; and he did everything that he could do. It is up to us to do everything that we can do in this body to make sure that his death was not in vain.
Mr. Speaker, I yield to my colleague.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of talk around the country lately about leadership. In corporate America we have seen where, for some, leadership had evolved from serving others, serving those who had given you the opportunity to lead, serving and recognizing that with leadership came a certain responsibility, and for that limited number of corporate executives it had moved from serving others. Leadership now means what can I get out of it for myself? Leadership began to mean more about, what's in it for me, than what is in it for others?
The gentleman is absolutely correct that for the folks that put their lives on the line each and every day, for them leadership is about service. Chris was doing this in service of his country. For our troops in central Asia, they are doing this in service to their country. For the firefighters and rescue workers in New York and at the Pentagon, they gave their lives because they recognize leadership and responsibility meant serving others and not serving myself. For the folks on United Flight 93, again, service meant, I am going to take the risk. I am in leadership. This is my opportunity to lead. And when leadership presented itself to those people on United 93, they went and they sacrificed their lives knowing that they would serve their country. That is exactly what Kris did.
The story of the incident is that he never forgot the responsibilities of his job. When they got to the place where the road ended and the tracks went off the road of the folks that they were pursuing, Kris recognized that to follow those tracks would do more harm to the environment so he parked the truck. He said, we do not take trucks out there. And because of his experience in running, he went after them on foot and then was ambushed and that is how he lost his life. But he never thought about what was in it for him. He said, this is the job that I have agreed to do. I am here to serve my country. I am here because I love the National Park Service, and he ended up sacrificing his life.
But the same thing that they have to do is that we have to recognize is that
the individuals that we put on the front line as they have defined leadership to mean service, we need to view it the same way.
Leadership now means not what is in this for me politically, what are the political costs and consequences, but it is how do we serve our constituents, how do we serve this country and how do we serve those we put on the front line? The way we serve those on the front line is to provide them with clarity of what we want them to do. I think they have that. At least in that 30-mile section they have clarity. They see it as our job to secure that border. That is what we thought borders were for.
What maybe has not been so clear back to us here in Washington is taking the steps in leadership that will actually equip these individuals to do that job. Kris saw it. It was my duty to serve my country, protecting the borders and maintaining the integrity of the borders and stopping drugs from coming in here illegally and stopping others from coming in here illegally. That is my job. There is no lack of clarity there.
The only lack of clarity that they may have within the National Park Service is if they are asking us to do all of this, why does the rhetoric out of Washington not always match what they are asking us to do. They may be a little confused about that. And then in some cases, and maybe too often, it is why have they not given us the resources to properly do our job? There is no question that for any sovereign nation protecting the borders and providing integrity to the borders is a key component to your sovereign nation and keeping your nation safe. That is a well established fact. That is one of things that governments do. We just need to make sure that the folks that we ask to do that, we recognize and give them the resources to make sure that they can do that job and do it very, very effectively.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, one of the ways in which this whole issue can be described includes a connection to the war on terrorism. Because it is not only the southern border where we see this kind of activity, but, as I say, I just returned a little bit ago from the northern border, a place near the Canadian border called Bonners Ferry, Idaho. And all of the activities up there of the border patrol, of the U.S. Forest Service, and in this case, there were 100 Marines that had been assigned the task of trying to determine whether they could interact with the border patrol and the U.S. Forest
Service for the purpose of trying to defend one little chunk of border. Just see what we can do if we combine our efforts. One hundred Marines, 3 drones. They were using old UAVs, those unmanned aerial vehicles, flying along the border. It is the same ones, the first generation type we used in the first Gulf War, and a couple of radar towers. And, of course, what we saw was a large amount of drug activity, a large amount of people coming across that area carrying drugs.
When I was up there I was told that there is a very large Muslim population in Calgary, Canada. Again, kind of surprising in a way. Almost 25,000 people, Muslims living there. They were connected, a large number of them are connected with the trade in the component parts of methamphetamines, shipping them into the United States through Canada. They took it down here, make the drugs, sell it, and the money goes back to the Muslims in Calgary to this group, the drug trade group, and they use the money to support terrorist activities all over the world.
When we keep talking about this, about there being a war on our borders, it is quite literally a war. Again, something I think that so few of our colleagues even perhaps understand. They look at it again as just what they see in their own districts. That is understandable. But when you get to the border, as we say, you see illegal immigration in the form of drug trafficking, drug running, illicit sex trade, human smuggling, economic crimes. These are all part of what is going on on the border.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that it is a pleasure to be here with my colleague, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Hoekstra), to honor as little as we can here. As I said at Kris's funeral, when someone has given the full measure of devotion, what word can we possibly use to try and salve the wounds that are created by that event? There are few, if any, that we can utter that will give solace to his parents, give comfort to his friends, and rest to his soul. God is in charge of that, and we place his family, his friends, and all of the people who work every single day in the same capacity as Kris to help defend America, we place them in God's hands and ask for His blessing on them all; and for us here in this body, for the task that lays ahead of us, to help support him and America.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend for joining me today.
Mr. HOEKSTRA. Mr. Speaker, I went to Central Asia and I know my colleague has spent a lot of time on the border, and sometimes our constituents ask us why we go. They think it is some kind of a junket. It is to go to see a couple of things. It is to go to see these Krises around the borders, around the world who are on the front lines each and every day, to put a face with the people on the front line.
Central Asia, I was over there and I took a video camera, and I ran into about 10 or 12 constituents who are in K-2, who were at the Moscow embassy, who were on the U.S. George Washington, who were in Bahrain, and what we did is we just asked them to send a message back home. And we asked them, who do you want me to call? And you end up calling parents, husbands, grandparents; and each of these Krises around the world have loved ones that care deeply about them. So we have got to, number one, just to meet our constituents and to demonstrate that we care and we are concerned about the environment that we have put them in.
The second reason we go, and my colleague has gone along the border, is to find out whether we have given them the resources to do the job. What my colleague has tragically found out in Arizona is maybe we have not given them the resources, and maybe we have not paid as much attention to this issue as we should have. And for us to put our front line folks in that type of a position, my colleague has identified it, Congress can no longer say we did not know. We now know. And it is now our responsibility to respond. And we will have the opportunity to do that through the appropriations process. I think this year maybe we can move more human resources down to Organ Pipe and also where we can help construct some type of barrier to allow the more sophisticated illegal crossings to stop.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope we will do that. I hope we will begin a process that will eventually lead to our being able to tell our constituents that we are living up to the commitments we have made to try to protect and defend this Nation.
No matter what we do, it is possible, of course, that someone may come across these borders to do us harm. We may not be able to get everyone who tries, that is true. But we can do so much more than we are presently doing.
We can use technology along with human resources so much more effectively than what we are presently doing. It just takes will power. In many ways I look at Chris and others and I think of them as the folks who went to serve in Vietnam. We asked them to go. We put them in harm's way. We told them the country needed them but there was no real will to win the war, and we left them sort of out on a limb. And we are still paying the price for that, for what we did to the men and women who served in the armed forces in Vietnam by sending them to a war that we really and truly were not committed to win.
That is how I view the situation on the border with Kris, the border patrol, the Park Service, Customs agents, Forest Service people. We put them there, but I do not know whether or not we have the will to really win this war. It tests our mettle here as well as theirs to determine how far are we willing to go, what are we willing to do here in this body to say that this is not going to happen again or to say that, in fact, we are serious about trying to defend the Nation.
We are about, well, perhaps, we are going to be sending men and women off again into harm's way into Iraq. We are told that this is a distinct possibility. The President may be coming to the Congress in a very short time asking for our support of that endeavor.
Do we think for a moment that if we in fact move forward on that, and I tend to believe that we have to do that, but do we think for a moment that there will not be ramifications in the United States? Do we think for a moment that Saddam Hussein believes he can win a war in Iraq against our military might? No. He knows that is not possible. He knows that we are most vulnerable here. And he will try to bring the battle to us.
We are told every day that another attack in the United States is imminent. Well, how logical does it seem to you or any of our colleagues, I wonder, that we will spend an enormous amount of our treasury and our human resources in places thousands of miles away which, again, I am not going to argue right now as to whether or not it is appropriate. I tend to think it is. But we are doing nothing significant on our own border. Is this not the height of folly?
Is this not so irresponsible to us to not recognize that we are laying ourselves bare, laying ourselves open to greater attacks? And, yes, we are looking internally on how to deal with it. Maybe we will try to find them when they are here. Why not try to stop them before they get here? We may not absolutely be able to do it for every single person, for every single threat, but we can do far more than we are doing.
Just that, if we do that, if we commit to it. If we put the troops, if we use the military on our border to help support the Park Service, the border patrol and the forest service, we will have done, I think, a service to Kris Eggle and to the others who face danger every single day down there, and we will be doing our job. It is our responsibility here. It is not asking us to go the extra mile, for heaven's sake. It is asking us and the President of the United States to do exactly what we are supposed to do as well as the folks who are supposed to direct the resources of the Nation to its defense, and I fear that we are not doing it today.
I, of course, represent Columbine, the school in which such a tragedy occurred just a few years ago, and it was the most horrendous event I have ever gone through in public life, and I keep thinking about the fact that there were some good things that happened, and in every single horrible event something good does come out of it. We have to pray that this is the case, and it usually is.
Out of Kris's death, something good has got to happen here, and that is that we will, in fact, redouble our efforts, triple our efforts to protect his colleagues and our constituents from the forces of evil that are directed against us. I feel that that is what he would want us to do, and I do not mean just the al Qaeda agents, the cells that are operating. I mean the forces of evil that are importing drugs, sex slaves, all the rest that are coming across this border for the purposes of poisoning our children and our culture.
We also have a responsibility internally to do what we can to restructure the culture, to reinvigorate our own culture and to imbue it with what is good and right and just, but at the same time, we must do everything we can to make sure that these people cannot just come into the country at their will; just as my colleague said, what he was talking about the fact that this is our, as a Congress, it is our responsibility. We cannot ignore it. We cannot walk away from it, and it would be the best possible memorial we could give, I think, to Kris Eggle.