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I bring you news from the third front--that being the southern border of the United States with Mexico. The first front, of course, is that engagement in Iraq; the second, in Afghanistan; the third, on our violent southern border. People are coming into the United States from all over the world through the country of Mexico. Because Mexico has a vast coastline in the Atlantic and the Pacific, people go to Mexico, sneak into Mexico, and then sneak into the United States through our southern border. Part of those people that are coming in are called drug cartels. They're coming in to sell narcotics--a profit of over $40 billion a year to the drug cartels that smuggle dope into this country. But also other people are coming into the United States.
Here's a photograph that was taken in Zapata County, Texas. I'm sure you've never been there, Mr. Speaker, but it's down on the Texas-Mexico border. It's a small county. This is an RV parked near the border. But this happens to be a helicopter. It turns out it's a Russian-made helicopter with Mexican markings on it. It's about a mile and a half to two miles into the United States across the border.
Now, the border with Mexico and Texas is not a land border. There's a river there. So there is no way somebody can be mistaken when they accidentally, they say, come into the United States. We don't know the intentions of this helicopter. Two weeks before this photograph was taken, other photographs were taken of either this helicopter or a similar helicopter, once again, coming into the United States--intentions unknown. Are these folks guarding a shipment of drugs? Are they working with the drug cartels? Are they looking for bad guys, or what are they doing? We don't know.
The problem is the border is porous. The southern border of the United States is porous with that border of Mexico. The violence in Mexico is escalating. Of course, it comes into the United States. There are 14 border counties in Texas that border Mexico. I recently talked to the sheriffs of those counties on the same day and asked them this question: How many people in your local jail are foreign nationals charged with crimes that are not immigration violations? The total number was 37 percent. That's right, 37 percent of the people in border county jails in Texas are foreign nationals charged with misdemeanors and felonies. That's a lot of folks. That costs somebody a lot of money. And that is because the crime problem goes back and forth across the border. It's in Texas and it's also in Mexico. It's because the borders are porous.
We have down on the border with Mexico the Border Patrol. They're doing as marvelous a job as they possibly can, but they need some help. Here's a photograph, Mr. Speaker, that was also recently taken. This is a Border Patrol vehicle. It has been improvised. It's a pickup truck. They call these things the ``war wagons.'' Now why do they do that? Because they think they may be in a war zone down on the border. If you notice, Mr. Speaker, there's a mesh steel wire across the windshield, across all of the windows. There's even a mesh cage that protects the emergency lights on top of the vehicle.
The question is, Why do they have that stuff on their Border Patrol vehicles? Well, you see, when they patrol the border with Mexico, people who wish to come into the United States illegally pelt rocks at our Border Patrol. And so they have to protect themselves and their vehicles by putting this wiring, this cage, around their own vehicle. Now, if somebody threw rocks at a police officer in the United States, normally those people get arrested and go to jail. But it doesn't seem like that is what is occurring, and so they have to protect themselves.
This is just one example of the violence that is occurring. Border Patrol in the Tucson area, assaults against them this year are up 300 percent from last year. That's right, assaults on our agents who are trying to protect the border, protect us. So we have to do more than that. We have to support the Border Patrol, the sheriffs that work along the border; and we have to do what the Governors of some of those States have asked for, and that's send the National Guard down to the border.
We protect the borders of other nations. Why don't we protect our own? We don't know. I think it's politics. It's time that we have the moral will to secure the dignity of the United States. It's about border security. It's about national security. It's not an issue of immigration. It's an issue of whether or not people can come into the United States legally or illegally. We must have the moral will to keep the criminal gangs, the drug cartels, the human smugglers out of the United States. They know our borders are porous. People in other countries know our borders are porous. They go through Mexico and come into the United States.
The Federal Government has been missing in action. It's time that they show up on the border and send the National Guard to support our troops, support the border sheriffs, and support the Border Patrol.
And that's just the way it is.
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