February 23, 2007
March 2nd is my favorite day in Texas history, Texas Independence Day. On this day, Texas declared independence from Mexico and its evil dictator, Santa Anna, and Texas became a free nation.
In 1836, in a small farm village of Washington-on-the-Brazos, 54 ``Texians,'' as they called themselves in those days, gathered to do something bold and brazen: They gathered to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence and to ``declare that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, sovereign, and independent republic.''
As these determined delegates met to declare independence, Santa Anna and 6,000 enemy troops were marching on an old, beat-up Spanish mission that we now call the Alamo. This is where Texas defenders stood defiant and determined. They were led by a 27-year-old lawyer by the name of William Barrett Travis. The Alamo and its 186 Texans were all that stood between the invaders and the people of Texas. And behind the dark, dank walls of that Alamo, William Barrett Travis, the commander, sent a fiery, urgent appeal requesting aid.
His defiant letter read in part: ``To all the people of Texas and America and the world, I am besieged by a thousand or more of the enemy under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannon fire for the last 24 hours, but I have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded surrender at its discretion; otherwise, the fort will be put to the sword. I have answered that demand with a cannon shot, and the flag still waves proudly over the wall. I shall never surrender or retreat. I call upon you in the name of liberty and patriotism and everything that is dear to our character to come to my aid with all dispatch. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself for as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country. Victory or death, signed William Barrett Travis, commander of the Alamo.
After 13 days of glory at the Alamo, Commander Travis and his men sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom. The date was March 6, 1836.
Those lives would not be lost in vain. Their determination for the cause paid off, and because heroes like William Barrett Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and others held out for so long, Santa Anna's forces took such great losses they became battered, demoralized and diminished. Travis said in his last letter, ``Victory will cost the enemy more dearly than defeat.'' He was right.
General Sam Houston, in turn, had devised a strategy to rally other Texas volunteers to ultimately defeat Santa Anna at the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. The war was over. The Lone Star flag was visible all across the bold, brazen, and broad plains of Texas. Texas remained an independent nation for over 9 years.
The Alamo defenders were from every State in the United States. They were mavericks, revolutionaries, farmers, shopkeepers, and freedom fighters. They came together to fight for something they believed in, Liberty. And, they were all volunteers.
In 1845, Texas was admitted to the United States by only one vote. Some have said they wished the vote had gone the other way. Be that as it may, we all know that freedom has a cost. It always has. It always will. We pause to remember those who lost their lives so that Texas could be a free nation. And as we do so, we remember the brave Americans in our military that are fearlessly fighting to preserve and uphold freedom from a new world threat of terrorism. In Colonel Travis' final letter and appeal for aid, he signed off with three words, ``God and Texas.'' And the rest, as they say, is Texas history.
February 16, 2007
This week Bank of America joined the federal government in rolling out the red carpet to illegal aliens. In a new initiative introduced by Bank of America, people can now obtain credit cards without producing a social security number. Issuing credit cards to people without social security cards is absurd. This policy leaves the door wide open for money laundering, fraud and identity theft. Matter of fact, they are blatantly sending a message to illegals, drug cartels and terrorists around the world that they are open for business to anyone with the Almighty buck.
But the problem goes far beyond this highly criticized new plan. The banking industry and the federal government have been turning a blind eye to illegal immigration for years. According to the Central Bank of Mexico, remittances from the United States were up 15% over last year reaching an all time high of $23 billion making remittances the second largest money maker for their country behind oil and gas revenues. Of course their research assumes that this is from legal workers in the United States, but legal status was not asked.
It doesnt take an economic expert to understand that if you take out $23 billion from the economy, you are going to have problems. Money earned in the United States must be spent in the United States in order to continue a growing and healthy economy. Unfortunately, our government and banking industry dont see it that way and are continuing to prop up the Mexican economy on the back of the American people.
Supporters of illegal immigration talk about the contributions they are making to our country, the money they spend here, all the good they do for us. Sending $23 billion south of border doesnt sound like they are contributing to our economy to me. They are however, keeping the Mexican economy afloat and thanks to American banks it just got a little easier.
The banking industry is one step ahead of the wire transfer businesses and has gone after their piece of the pie. Lets pick on Bank of America, since they so boldly put this credit card nonsense out there. Check out their website, they promote over 4,500 locations and 16,000 ATMs throughout Mexico. Just bring in your matricula card and Mexican Voter ID, open an account and send an ATM card home. There is no need to wire money, you just need a checking account and an ATM. If you dont want to do that, no problem. Use their plan and you can send $3000.00 a month to Mexico for free - with a Bank of America checking account of course.
Money is said to be the root of all evil. Bank of Americas new plan comes across as saying they are more concerned with making a buck than knowing who their customers really are. Drug cartels and terrorists pose a constant threat to our country and are always looking for new avenues to launder their money. We cannot afford to make it any easier. Furthermore, how do we expect to hold employers who knowingly hire illegals responsible when American banks are rolling out the welcome mats? The banking industry has all kinds of excuses for doing business with illegals its all nonsense. It is about banks cashing in on the underground illegal cash economy, pure and simple.
January 26, 2007
Earmark is not a dirty word. It is another name for funding requests that are attached to bills in the U.S. Congress. Earmarks have received a lot of bad press, some of which is rightfully deserved, for things such as the legendary bridge to nowhere in Alaska, but some earmarks are good. And what is the alternative? The alternative is that we allow bureaucrats to make the decisions on how money is spent, cutting lawmakers and Congress out of the process. Unfortunately, this year it looks as if the bureaucrats have won.
Last year I was proud to announce a $750,000 funding request for noise mitigation in and around Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) was included in the Transportation Appropriations Bill for 2007. It was the very first time a Member of Congress from the Houston area requested that money be allocated directly and specifically for the IAH residential acquisition and sound insulation program. Now new House leadership has put those funds in limbo.
I have worked closely with local, state and federal representatives since 2003 to address the airport noise issue. One of the first actions I took upon election to Congress was to establish an Airport Noise Task Force made up of representatives from the FAA, area chambers of commerce, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Continental Airlines, Houston Airport System, local officials, homeowners from noise impacted areas, CHARGE and the West 45 Noise Group. The Airport Noise Task Force meetings were the first time all stakeholders came together around the same table to work towards solutions. While the $750,000 earmark was much less than we wanted from the federal appropriators and not near enough for all the noise mitigation that needs to be done, it was a good start and the first in what we hoped would be a series of funding victories.
Now it feels as if the rug has been pulled out from under us. The new House leadership has cancelled all earmarks for 2007. Unfortunately, they can do that. In our federal governments committee-based legislature system the majority party has this type of authority. The new leadership and appropriations committee chairs have decided they are going to extend the same amount of funding that was given to agencies last year, but that they will not honor any earmarks that were attached to the billsthis includes our noise mitigation funding. When money is appropriated to agencies this wayin a lump sum instead of with instructions on how the money should be spentbureaucrats at those agencies end up making the decisions on how the money is spent instead of Congress.
I am greatly disappointed we have to go back to the drawing board for this funding, but I will not let it stop our progress. I will continue to let Washington D.C know that we have a problem here in Houston and that by cancelling this funding they are impacting our neighborhoods and our families. I remain dedicated, as I have always been, to facilitating the communication among all parties that are impacted by airport noise. I will continue to host meetings, pursue efforts to reach an amicable solution and request funding from the Washington appropriators.
Earmarks should be transparentall Americans should be able to see which requests are made and which are honored. But they should not be outlawed. We could simplify this process by requiring up or down votes on earmarks in the House of Representatives on each bill instead of lumping them all together in back room deals. We should not take away Representatives authority to request earmarks on behalf of their districts. If officials are out in the community and listening to their constituents, they know best what the needs are. Not a bunch of bureaucrats at agencies in Washington.
Elected in 2004, Congressman Poe represents the Second Congressional District. He serves on the House Transportation Committee, Aviation Subcommittee and established the Airport Noise Task Force during his first year in Congress.
December 11, 2006
Welcome to America, Bien Venidos a Los Estados Unidos
We are being colonized, and I am not talking about settlers coming in on horses and
wagons to settle uninhabited areas. I am talking about illegals breaking the law and exploiting the integrity of our borders to come into the United States. Instead of sending them back to their homelands or punishing them for breaking our laws, we throw out the welcome mat and treat them with the same hard-earned rights of every legal citizen and legal immigrant. Not only do we protect them, we accommodate them in every possible way. We even have gone as far as integrating the Spanish language into every aspect of U.S. life.
One of the qualities that make a nation a nation is a common language. Our ancestors decided that the American national language would be English. German was the second choice. But, in our day, we don't want to hurt people's feelings that are not from around here, and we make the unwise choice to communicate with them in their language, not the American language.
If youve made a phone call in the last couple of years, you may have realized that English is no longer the official language of the United States. Why is it that we have to press one for English in our own country?
Not only do we have Spanish phone services, we also have bilingual voting ballots, product labels, advertisements and public notices. Anything printed or spoken in the English language almost always has a readily available Spanish translation.
If people come to America, they need, like the people before them, to learn to speak English. Failure to do so makes us not a nation but many nations within a nation.
Not only do we make it easy for illegals to communicate in our country, we also foot the bill for their needs. American taxpayers provide free medical care, education, food and housing for the illegals.
In addition, you also pay for day labor centers, which provide a way for the illegal alien to earn an income. These centers provide cheap plantation labor for businesses that exploit the law at the expense of real Americans.
Anyone can go to these facilities and get a job with no identification, no references and no experience. You show up, and after a few hours, you walk away with hard cash in your pocket. No questions asked. You pay no taxes. You pay no Social Security. You pay no health coverage, and at the end of the day, somebody else pays for all of that.
Our government should be buying into America and our culture, not selling out to illegals.
December 7, 2006
These were fierce U.S. naval battleships whose silent guns and hulls became sacred graves in the peaceful Pacific for 2,403 Americans.
These sailors on board these battle wagons fought with the courage and heroism of entire legions of warriors when attacked by a fanatical and tyrannical enemy.
December 7, 1941, a date that will live in infamy'' were words spoken by President Roosevelt that became forever embedded in the minds of patriots across our land, igniting and launching a Nation into the fiery trenches of battle.
Japanese naval commanders were concerned because they said, ``What Japan has done was awake a sleeping giant,'' - the United States.
Mr. Speaker, those of the greatest generation proved that when invaded, our people will stand up and fight, bringing the thunder of God upon our enemies. Defending freedom and liberty was the battle cry of the sailors and soldiers that died 65 years ago today.
Mr. Speaker, we don't always choose war, but we must always choose victory.
And that's just the way it is.
August 18, 2006
I went down to Donna, Texas, to the site of a brazen attack on U.S. law enforcement from across the Rio Grande. You may not have heard much about this in the media, they were busy covering violence on the other side of the world. Sheriff Trevino took me to the location where his deputies and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents took on more than 300 rounds of gunfire from about 100 yards away in Mexico. Hidalgo County Sheriffs Department responded to a call for assistance by an American citizen reporting that her two sons fled their ranch in Mexico after being ambushed by heavily armed men. During the attack at the Mexican ranch, their father was kidnapped and a ranch hand was murdered. Shortly after deputies arrived, gunfire erupted and deputies were forced to take immediate cover from the hail of bullets.
It was originally reported that the gunmen were part of a drug cartel taking over the ranch, but is now believed that they were the strong arm of the law, known as Madrinas. Sheriff Trevino explained that Madrinas are often bribed to provide protection rather than working to bring outlaws to justice. This is yet another example of the violence and corruption in Mexico that extends across the border into our country.
Sheriff Trevino said the number one threat to his county is the criminal alien that is coming to the United States with the sole intent to commit crimes. This week, I attended Homeland Security field hearings in Houston on that same subject. Members of Congress were shown a video of a gun battle between warring drug cartels in Nuevo Laredo. It was pointed out by one of my colleagues that this was not in our country and this type of violence takes place south of the border. Unfortunately, this is not true. These drug lords are not fighting to gain control of Nuevo Laredo to limit there activity there, this is a battle to take over the most lucrative point of entry into the United States. This incident, and every other one just like it, has a direct effect on the United States. You see, these people are not fighting to come to America for a better life; they are fighting for the right to destroy ours.
To give a first hand account of the violence committed by illegal criminals in our country, State Trooper Steve Stone and the parents of Felicia Ruiz testified as to how their lives were devastated by our open border policy. State Trooper Steve Stone of Tyler, Texas, was shot six times after a routine traffic stop of an illegal who had been twice deported. The parents of Felicia Ruiz of Pasadena, Texas, told the heartbreaking story of how their only daughter was brutally beaten, stabbed, and left for dead by a teenage illegal who has since fled to his native country of Venezuela.
It is the primary responsibility of the federal government to protect its citizens, but the United States is failing to do so by continuing to turn a blind eye to illegal immigration. The violence on the border doesnt end in the border towns of Texas, Arizona and California; it stretches across our country. While the media and the rest of the country focus their attention on wars a world away, the United States is losing the war along our borders. We can not wait until our country is hit with another devastating attack to take action. If we can protect the borders of foreign nations, the American people certainly deserve that same service here at home. Thats just the way it is.
July 14, 2006
As a member of the House Committee on International Relations and Terrorism Subcommittee, I attended field hearings in both San Diego, California, and Laredo, Texas, last week. Members from both political parties were given an opportunity to hear from local sheriffs, border patrol, community leaders and organizations in each of the respective border cities. These hearings provided vital information to the security of our country from those on the front lines. The people along our borders that are faced with the brunt force of illegal entry deserve to be heard and have their say before Members of Congress. This is not a Republican or a Democrat issue, this is a red, white and blue issue. There is no room for partisan politics in securing our borders and safeguarding the United States against those who wish to do us harm.
Unfortunately that category of those who wish to do us harm is debatable. Law enforcement along our borders believe that narco-terrorists who are smuggling drugs and humans across our border are as big a threat to our security as al-Qeaeda terrorists because they work hand-in-hand. During testimony from Zapata County Sheriff Sigi Gonzalez, members of the committee were told of intelligence gathered that suggests terrorist cells are in Mexico, learning the Spanish language and assimilating into their culture to easily pass into the United States. Sheriff Gonzales further testified that there is a greater threat of this happening on the southern border because of the similarities in appearance to those in the Middle East. His testimony was backed up by Webb County Sheriff Rick Flores by explaining that the drug cartels in Mexico control all routes into the United States for both drugs and human smuggling. He said that securing our borders and stopping the drug dealers is an absolute must in the security of our country because it is impossible to distinguish between those that are coming here with good intentions and those that are not.
On the other side of the issue, we heard statements from Members of Congress that feel it is important to only stop those that wish to do us harm from entering our country illegally while others should be allowed to cross. It was even suggested by one Congressman that drug dealers are simply business men and they are not going to harm their American customer base. Unfortunately this is not reality, not even close. Entering our country illegally is against the law, no matter how big or small an infraction you think it is, it is a crime. We are not given the luxury to pick and choose which laws we obey in our country. It is the lawlessness on the border that breeds violence, gunfire, drug trafficking, human smuggling and is ripe for terrorists to operate and easily enter our country. It will continue to get western on our border until border security becomes a national security issue. That's just the way it is.
June 30, 2006
This bill not only allows the United States to cultivate more of its own natural resources, but grants coastal States the power to control their own coastlines. They decide the extent to which they utilize the resources of the OCS area off their coasts and what energy exploration they will allow. States will now have the ability to control drilling rights up to 100 miles off their coast as opposed to the current 3 mile limit. This eliminates the common excuse that is ugly for tourists, even wide-eyed tourists cant see that far.
Additionally, the DOER Act will allow states to share in the leasing royalties should they choose to drill off their coast and encourage more states to participate as they will now share in the benefits from leasing rights. For my State of Texas, we have long held the belief that drilling can be done in a responsible and environmentally safe way. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita proved that we can drill safely without causing harm to the environment in even the strongest hurricanes. Now, Texas will be able to share in those leasing royalties that in the past have been exclusively limited to the federal government. These funds can be used by Texas to offset the cost of Rita, fund education for Katrina refugees or other important programs needed in the State.
The bottom line remains: the United States must be more self-sufficient when it comes to energy. The United States imports 60 percent of its crude oil from foreign countries, even though we have large quantities of oil and natural gas available in our own OCS. With much of this area off-limits to energy exploration, the United States is the only developed nation that limits access to their own natural resources. Other nations are willing to drill close to their own shores. Canada drills in the Great Lakes. Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand all drill within 50 miles of their own coastline. The Netherlands drills 20 miles off their shoes and Scotland drills just 10 miles off their coast. By limiting our ability to explore for energy we are only stifling our own energy supply, and therefore punishing our citizens with soaring energy costs.
This is a win-win bill that allows for further exploration while rewarding states that want to control their own energy supply and respecting state plans to protect sensitive environments. While it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, I encourage my colleagues to listen to the American people and do what is in the best interest of the people of the United States. We can not continue down this road of dependence on foreign oil rich nations. Thats just the way it is.
June 13, 2006
Human garbage, its what Milagro Cunningham thought of an 8-year-old girl who he raped, choked and left underneath massive chunks of concrete in a landfill in Florida. Police dont know how she was able to find the strength to wiggle her fingers while trapped underneath the great slabs, still barely alive. Matter of fact, it was the only sign she survived. Milagro Cunningham, an illegal from the Bahamas, was arrested three times by police before he tried to kill the tiny girl. Not once did they detain him for trespassing on American soil.
People living by the very railroad tracks that mobilized our Great country, once were paralyzed with fear when a mass murderer, know as the Railroad Killer was on the loose. Angel Maturino Resendez raped, bludgeoned, hammered and even sledge hammered nine people to death, all of whom lived within yards of railroad tracks. Small town shops sold out of pistols and people who never locked their doors, sealed even their windows. The killer, an illegal Mexican murderer, hopped trains never knowing where he was going, but always knowing what would happen when he got there.
To Resendez, every border - Mexican, US, Canadian - meant bloodshed. He was arrested or deported more than ten times. He was sent home after carrying guns, defrauding Social Security, burglary, trespassing and pretending to be a Texas citizen. But he was only arrested after claiming the lives of nine American citizens. His first known murder victim was beaten to death two years after his last deportation. The victims girlfriend was raped and beaten, but miraculously survived and was found near railroad tracks.
These deadly illegal invaders knew what they were doing and they are not the only ones who tracked northward leaving a trail of trouble. Their clandestine border crossing and thousands others like them mean twelve legal citizens will be murdered today, tomorrow and everyday. Thirteen legal citizens will die because a drunk illegal alien got behind the wheel of a car today, tomorrow and everyday. Eight children will be sexually abused by perverts who will cross the line, after illegally crossing the border. Thats today, tomorrow and everyday. Not all illegal immigrants are criminals before they cross the border, but they break the law with their first step on American soil. And unfortunately their first crime, may not be their last.
They arent just trespassing on our soil, they are trampling our laws, violating our values and shattering our safety. It must be stopped with a sealed border and an impenetrable immigration process. That is just the way it is.