[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 103 (Wednesday, June 20, 2018)]
[Pages H5358-H5360]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. 
Russell) for 30 minutes.
  Mr. RUSSELL. Mr. Speaker, Dr. Kevin Portteus, professor at Hillsdale 
College, made an interesting observation in his excellent study, 
``Immigration and the American Founding'':

       America's immigration problem is not with immigrants, but 
     with Americans. In order for the Founders' policies to be 
     intelligible and effective, America must return to the 
     Founders' principles of justice. If America is not based on 
     those principles, then it is like the other nations, and the 
     idea of America as an asylum becomes muddled and incoherent. 
     If we accept feudal obligation and its modern incarnation, 
     birthright citizenship, then the ideas of government by 
     consent and the right to emigrate become obscured. If we 
     forget that consent is reciprocal and that the purpose of 
     government is to protect the inalienable natural rights of 
     its citizens, then the right and duty to restrict immigration 
     and naturalization becomes nothing but an expression of 
     racism and nativism. If we forget our heritage as a refuge 
     for the virtuous and oppressed of the world, then we lose a 
     significant part of what makes America exceptional.

  Mr. Speaker, I am not an immigration expert. I do, however, know and 
love the history of our great Republic. I speak before America, not as 
a member of any party, but as an American who has nearly given my life 
on multiple battlefields in defense of her Constitution. As such, I am 
disturbed at the abandonment of principle by both sides of the aisle, 
the acceptance of sound bites in lieu of facts, and the framing of 
popular, even if opposing sentiments that are used to leverage 
political power.
  In our national immigration debate, we suffer much bitter contention, 
with political power being used to divide America on her foundations in 
the hopes that one side may force the other into its will. But what of 
it? What if we had no respect for the law? What if we closed the door 
to the poor and wretched masses? What if we had no security on our 
borders? What if we allowed privileged classes to have distinction in 
immigration? Either side prevailing on such a course would end the 
great experiment of liberty and equality among mankind as embodied in 
the very fabric of our Nation.
  And with all the critique about the use of Biblical passages to 
support various views on immigration, how about this one from Proverbs 
29:12 that can be leveled against both sides of our national 

       If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become 

  Mr. Speaker, Dr. Portteus is correct that America's immigration 
problem is not with immigrants, but with Americans. We should take his 
counsel to examine how a people bound by liberty and equality, rather 
than birthright and obligation, should govern themselves and 
accommodate those seeking the same.
  Our Founders were driven by the premise that all are created equal, 
endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among 
these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In that vein, 
they categorically rejected the notion of obligation to government or 
servitude to landholders simply by the happenstance of one's birth.
  Washington framed it simply, but effectively: ``The bosom of America 
is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but 
the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we 
shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if 
by decency and propriety of conduct, they appear to merit the 
  Thomas Jefferson conveyed it along these lines:
  If an individual chooses to depart from the regime of his birth and 
to associate with a new one, he has an inherent right to do so.
  Jefferson, in his first address to Congress, put it this way: ``Shall 
we refuse the unhappy fugitives from distress . . . hospitality . . . ? 
Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe? . . . Might not 
the general character and capabilities of a citizen be safely 
communicated to every one manifesting a bona fide purpose of embarking 
his life and fortunes permanently with us.''
  To redress the dilemma of various States creating a patchwork of 
standards for who should be allowed or not allowed as immigrants, the 
framers of the Constitution settled the issue by granting Congress the 
power to ``establish an uniform naturalization rule.''
  Enjoying the fruit of such immigration policy, the French-born 
immigrant J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, in his ``Letters from an 
American Farmer'' praised the political liberty and economic prosperity 
of America, saying: ``Europe contains hardly any other distinctions but 
lords and tenants; this fair country alone is settled by freeholders, 
the possessors of the soil they cultivate, members of the government 
they obey, and the framers of their own laws, by means of their 
representatives . . . It is here that the idle may be employed, the 
useless become useful, and the poor become rich.''
  The first Federal naturalization law passed by this Congress under 
the Constitution required 2 years' residency in the United States, 1 
year's residency in the State he was applying for citizenship, an oath 
of loyalty, and as an indication of the times, rather than many of the 
framers' expressed wishes, that the applicant be a free white person. 
Subsequent statutes increased the length of time to as much as 14 
years, but by 1802, Congress settled on the 5-year residency 
requirement that persists to this day. No other restrictions were 
imposed. No incentives or encouragements by class were instituted.
  Later, Congress abolished the immigration slave trade in 1808 and 
further eliminated the notion of class structure with the Passenger Act 
of 1819 to end indentured servitude immigration. It would take another 
50 years to secure the rights of all men under the law, but the steady 
efforts of many were realized without any alteration of the framers' 
original principles. After the Civil War, the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, 
and Sixteenth Amendments simply and rightly applied those principles to 
all Americans, naturally born, freed, or naturalized.
  American anathema to class distinction guided her well in the first 
century, culminating with the Civil War, as all men truly became equal 
under the law along the framework of the Founders' principles. Rejected 
was an obligation to government by birth, but rather, the American 
ideal was to voluntarily consent to government by choice. This ideal in 
its purist sense was upheld until the 1898 Supreme Court decision 
United States v. Wong Kim Ark which somewhat returned the feudalistic 
citizenship by birthright contrary to the views of many of the 
Founders. While doing good in securing certain rights for certain 
individuals, it also set up the construct to eliminate the rights of 
those not naturally born who wished to associate as law abiding 
immigrants by choice.
  American immigration historically has largely been driven by world 
events. Prior to the Great Depression and World War II, annual 
immigration comprised .64 of 1 percent of the United States population, 
with spikes as high as 1.61 percent. Immigrants expanded the country, 
cultivated the fields, spiked the railroads, and laid the cities across 
the Nation. By the time we entered the First World War in 1917, fully 
one-third of the Nation's population had been born overseas or had a 
parent who was an immigrant. A full 20 percent of the doughboys we sent 
to France in World War I were not even born in the United States, 
fighting to secure our liberty and also a new place in the world in 
what became an American century.

  Immigration dropped sharply due to economics, fear, and war with the 
Great Depression and World War II, but migrant workers still came by 
the hundreds of thousands during the war. Laborers from Mexico and 
Central America entered the agricultural fields and farms as we fed our 
armies and ourselves.
  An inseparable bond between agriculture and the guest worker resulted 
in demand for farm workers and industrial labor during the war. The 
United States Government recognized this with the Bracero accord that 
allowed for these workers to come annually to

[[Page H5359]]

meet a crisis during the war and a vibrant economic growth thereafter.
  Succumbing to fears about uncapped workers in our fields and farms or 
on our machines at home, this Congress ended the Bracero accord in 
1964. And with the institution of new immigration caps in 1965, an 
almost immediate spike in illegal immigration rose as seasonal workers, 
with no guarantee that they would make the next season's quota, stayed 
instead. The problem became so bad, that Congress again struggled with 
what to do and by 1986, took a stab at accommodating those that some 
argued would have likely been citizens at normal immigration rates in 
exchange for strengthening our southern border. We only got the 
immigrants when both were sorely needed.
  Now we are here today. Only .32 percent of our population are 
immigrants arriving annually. That is markedly lower than when we were 
fighting the Civil War. While the agricultural industry and the housing 
and construction industries are symbiotically entwined, we instead 
address immigration issues separate from what used to be handled under 
the Bracero accord.

                              {time}  1845

  And while the economic drivers are pulling immigrants to seek a 
better life in our country, we, in turn, will restrict already small 
percentages of our population to even smaller ones, despite the fact 
that our unemployment numbers are lower than our job openings for the 
first time in American history.
  What could we do? Some low-hanging fruit would be to secure our 
border and to provide some type of permanent residency for minors known 
as DACA recipients to address the immediate need. A bipartisan majority 
could readily vote for such a clean measure. Then, once that is done, 
we can establish a uniform naturalization rule to address further 
  Yet the solutions offered to us this week, instead, are to demonize 
family migration, accommodate only those with some station in life or 
those able to pay a million bucks to get a permanent residency and, 
thus, end the hopes of those wishing to come here legally with an 
already reduced system.
  We have many claims floating around these august Chambers. Here are 
some of them:
  Immigrants are taking our jobs;
  Immigrants are destroying our American way of life with chain 
  We are flooded by a wave of illegal and legal immigration unlike any 
time in our Nation's history.
  Here's the reality: The percentage of native-born workers to fuel our 
construction and agricultural economies do not exist. We can either 
import workers or we can import our food.
  In a study published in 2013, economist Michael Clemens did a 15-year 
analysis of data on North Carolina's farm labor market, concluding 
there is virtually no supply of native manual farm laborers in the 
State. This was true even in the depths of a severe recession.
  In 2011, with 6,500 available farm jobs in the State, only 268 of 
nearly half a million unemployed North Carolinians applied for those 
jobs. More than 90 percent of them--a whopping 245 people--of those 
applying, were hired, but just 163 even showed up for the first day's 
work. Only seven native workers completed the entire growing season, 
filling only one-tenth of 1 percent of the open farm jobs.
  This is not an abnormality. Since World War II, migrant workers have 
fueled America as the breadbasket of the globe. That may change. As I 
stated, we can either import workers or we can import food.
  The problem with the workforce may be even deeper than we know. In 
2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there were about 60 
births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, which is 3 percent lower than the 
rate in 2016 and the lowest recorded rate of birth since the government 
started tracking birth rates in 1909.
  Our actual birth rate is now 1.84. A nation must have at least a 2.1 
birth rate to sustain itself. Plus, we abort about 1.2 to 1.5 million 
children a year. We immigrate approximately 1 million people a year, 
and many of those have children. If one were to subtract the 39 million 
immigrants in our population since Roe v. Wade, our actual birth rate 
would even be lower. As in the past, immigrants are sustaining our 
national growth in spite of ourselves, and just barely.
  The issue of family immigration, now demonized as chain migration, 
was originally conceived as a way to ensure immigrants arriving had a 
support base structure, negating or reducing the need for government 
assistance. It has largely achieved that aim. Now, if current proposals 
become law, instead of acquiring a more stable and skilled workforce, 
the opposite is likely to occur, as it did before family migration was 
  And what of this dastardly diversity lottery? Is it the ``diversity'' 
name that offends us?
  The reality is the diversity lottery visas ensure immigrants come 
from a wide spectrum of nations rather than just those south of the 
  Further, a study published just a couple of months ago showed that 
diversity lottery recipients and family migrants, far from being 
unskilled and ignorant, are actually better educated than naturally 
born citizens. The study showed that 47 percent had a college degree or 
higher, as compared to 29 percent of the naturally born American 
  It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, we could use more of this type of 
ignorance and lack of skill.
  Americans of all generations have had concerns about immigrants: 
Irish, Dutch, German, Chinese, Eastern European, Mexican, Vietnamese, 
Persian, Lebanese, Syrian. We fret over language, even though studies 
show second-generation Americans are fully engaged lingually, and 
third-generation Americans speak virtually nothing of their old tongue.
  In our current national debate, immigrants south of the border carry 
such worrisome traits as strong in their faith, close-knit families, 
hardworking, and small business entrepreneurs. As a conservative, it 
sounds a lot like the things that I stand for. As an American, it 
sounds a lot like the America I fought for.
  Immigrants of all stripes have defended this country with their 
lives. Forty percent of the soldiers I lost in Iraq were immigrants or 
had immigrating parents. One was not even a citizen but earned his 
citizenship posthumously.
  While our Nation has ever been sustained by immigrants defending 
their newfound freedom along with ours, we must reject a dangerous 
proposal creeping into the immigration measures on this floor, namely, 
that nonpermanent residents can earn a residency by military service.
  Now, we have long accommodated permanent residents to earn their 
citizenship, but to place people with no status or allegiance into 
uniform makes us no better than a foreign legion or, worse, a Roman 
  The Statue of Liberty does not wear a blindfold. That is reserved for 
Lady Justice. Ms. Justice must continue to hold her scales in balance, 
with the laws of Americans on one hand balanced by those seeking 
citizenship to also, themselves, be law-abiding in pursuit of a new 
  Americans are not flooded by immigrants. We are well below the norm, 
historically. We are, however, starved by restrictive, unaccommodating 
policy that meets neither the lamp lit by our Founders nor the economic 
engines needing hands to turn them.
  Lady Liberty must continue to raise her arm and keep her torch 
burning brightly rather than exchange it for a stiff arm and a middle 
finger. The words inscribed at her base must not say ``Send me only 
your physicians, your scientists, and your Nobel laureates.''
  If we use our passions, anger, and fear to snuff out liberty's flame 
by xenophobic and knee-jerk policies, the enemies of liberty win, and 
what makes America exceptional dies, period.
  We have so lost our way on immigration that we even have those across 
our land rejecting those fleeing tyranny. I want you to listen 
carefully to these statements by Members of Congress in response to a 
refugee bill--not illegals, not permanent residents, but refugees, 
people fleeing for their lives. Listen to these statements by Members 
of Congress:

[[Page H5360]]

  Fighting immigration is ``the best vote-getting argument . . . The 
politician can beat his breast and proclaim his loyalty to America.''
  ``He can tell the unemployed man he is out of work because some alien 
has his job.''
  Here's another one. Congress must ``protect the youth of America from 
this foreign invasion.''
  And how about this one? ``American children have first claim to 
America's charity.''
  There are many more, but these quotes were from 1939. The refugee 
bill was not for Muslim and Christian Syrians or Iraqi Muslims, 
Christians, and Yazidis. It was for German and Eastern European Jews. 
Namely, it was for 20,000 children whom they were trying to receive 
into the country.
  Not only could we not allow 20,000 Jewish children to enter our 
country in 1939, that same Congress, with the same speech and rhetoric 
I am hearing in recent days in this august Chamber, passed hurdle after 
hurdle to make it more difficult for those refugees and immigrants to 
enter our country.
  See the gap during that time? They were, unfortunately, successful.
  Mr. Speaker, America protects her liberty and defends her shores not 
by punishing those who would be free. She does it by guarding liberty 
with her life. Americans need to sacrifice and wake up. We must not 
become enemies of the very liberty in the fabric of our Republic. The 
enemies of liberty win if we give up who we are and, even more so, 
without a fight.
  We guard our way of life by vigilance. We must be watchful. We have 
to have each other's back as Americans, not as Republicans and 
Democrats. By maintaining who we are amidst the threat, amidst the 
hatred, amidst the trials, we win.
  Patrick Henry did not say: ``Give me safety and economy or give me 
death.'' He said: ``Give me liberty.''
  We have defended our way of life for roughly 240 years. Now we as 
Americans must defend it again. We must defend it when the critic 
sitting on the couch eating his bag of cheese puffs is pecking out 
hatred and vitriol. We must defend it and have courage when voters are 
caught up with sincere passion, demanding security that might kill our 
liberty based on facts that are not true. We must defend it with our 
warriors who have worked hard to keep the fight for freedom off of our 
  We will always have threats to security and economy, but liberty, 
when lost, takes generations, if ever, to regain.
  Will and Ariel Durant, those epic recorders of human history, wrote 
this warning: ``Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and 
earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be 
interrupted . . . civilization would die, and we should be savages 
  I am asking all Americans to please pray for this Congress and 
specifically for our President. How much time have we really spent on 
our knees at home for our leaders, regardless of what we think of them? 
How much counsel have we sought from the Almighty?
  It is God who has given us the spark of freedom. It is God we must 
return to. He will take us and guide us in times of crisis if only we 
ask Him and humble ourselves and seek His face as a nation.
  The Apostle James instructs us:

       If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives 
     to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given 
     to him.

  Mr. Speaker, maybe our lack of doing that is how we got here in the 
first place.
  I yield back the balance of my time.