U.S.-Mexico Border Visit: Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and Attorney General Reno spoke in a news conference following a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, CA. The officials discussed the problems of illegal immigration to the U.S., and the potential remedies for the problem including increasing border patrol personnel, additional border patrol equipment, and penalties for illegal immigration.


ANNOUNCER: […] Attorney General Janet Reno, and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, toured the U.S./Mexican border near San Ysidro, California. Immigration and Border Patrol agents conducted the tour. The officials were shown equipment used by U.S. border guards to observe illegal immigration. They were also shown a variety of fake I.D.s sometimes used by illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Following the two-hour tour of the border area, the attorney general was joined by California’s two senators for a news conference.


FEINSTEIN (2:47): […] Ninety-five percent of the arrests on the American border are made in this strip of border between Tijuana and California, specifically San Diego. Ninety-five percent. And that’s why this is the hottest spot in America in terms of illegal border crossings. And so if I might — Attorney General, Senator — if you’d like to say something?

BOXER (3:17): Go ahead, Attorney General. I’ll follow you.

RENO (3:20): I’m here tonight to find out as much as I can about personnel needs, about equipment needs, and what can be done to really effectively address the problem for the legal immigration — not just here, but on all the borders of the United States, so that we can take effective action, upgrade the Immigration and Naturalization Service, make it as efficient as possible, and to address the problems that the senator has referred to.


BOXER (3:57): If I just may briefly state, I’m very pleased to be here with my colleague Senator Feinstein and with the attorney general. I think you see before you three women who are very determined to solve the problem. And tonight. We saw the problem firsthand. We saw the shortage of Border Patrol agents. We know we need to do more. Senator Feinstein and I have put forth some ideas on how to do that. We’re going to pursue them. I think that having the attorney general here is a real plus for us. She has seen the problem firsthand, and I look forward to working with her and my colleague to resolve this and to slow this illegal immigration to a trickle. I think it can be done.

REPORTER (4:37): Senator, this has been a problem for at least forty years that I know of. Why is immigration suddenly the buzzword among Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, socialists, anarchists … everybody? Suddenly, immigration is the hot issue. Why? Why now?

FEINSTEIN (4:51): If you’d like me to respond I’d be happy to. I think probably in the early part of the century, there were higher numbers. Since that time, I think the numbers have escalated tremendously. You see a lot of illegal smuggling. I’m told by the State Department at there anywhere from forty to seventy-five ships either in the construction or on the high seas bringing people illegally into this country. I think what you’ve seen — you see it in Europe, you see it in Asia, you’re seeing it in this country — is a phenomenon of people who are moving, who are looking for opportunity. So it’s worldwide. When you come to these two borders, you have to remember a couple of things. In Mexico, there is no welfare, there is no AFDC, there is no SSI, there is no Medicaid, there is no Social Security, there is no Medicare, and there is a 58 cent an hour minimum wage. Mexico does nothing to enforce its border. It is my view — that if we are going to have a North America Free Trade Agreement — that Mexico must do its share. Because the day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. We simply can’t afford it. And, I think you’ve seen the figures, to state and local governments, of what the cost is. It’s over two billion dollars in California alone. And, I have those figures, if you want them, in specific, in my purse. And that’s why the issue is now joined with two million illegal immigrants. It’s a competition for space. Whether the space is a job, the space is a home, a place in a classroom, it becomes a competition for space. This is a country that’s based on immigration. And we all know that. And yet, at times you become so overtaxed you have to concentrate on saying, “The people who should be here are those who come legally at this time.” And we’ve got to, for the time being, enforce our borders.

REPORTER (7:09): What will you tell the president about what you saw tonight?

RENO (7:13): I’ll describe what I saw.

REPORTER (7:18): What are your impressions?

RENO (7:26): This is a different situation than existed in Florida and that’s why I’m here. Florida, basically as you know, a water border. This is the different border. I will be visiting Arizona. I’m told the border situation there is different and I will make appropriate recommendations.

REPORTER (7:40): After your tour is there anything that shocked or surprised you that you saw tonight? What did you think about what you saw?

RENO (7:48): As I have said I think immigration will be one of the most significant problems that I face as attorney general, and I think it’s important that I talk with people who are directly on the scene and make the best advice … recommendations … I can, based on the information that we have available, as to what can reasonably be done, and advise the American people, advise the president, after I’ve completed that review.

REPORTER (8:13): Can you give us an idea about what kind of recommendations you will talk to him about?

RENO (8:17): We’ll talk to him about what is needed.

REPORTER (8:23): Could you be more specific about the kind of recommendations?

RENO (8:26): No, I’ve not completed my review.

REPORTER (8:28): With all due respect, Ms. Reno, a lot of Southern Californians with whom we’ve spoken are wondering about how serious the Clinton administration is about this situation. For example, Governor Wilson last week made some very tough proposals about what he thought was necessary for this state to stop this flow. And before your visit even took place, President Clinton was rejecting these proposals out of hand.

BOXER (8:53): I would like to respond to that in all due respect. This administration is the first administration that has come up with many points on how to resolve this, including expedited asylum procedures, increasing the Border Patrol by six hundred agents nationally. This is the first time we’ve had that kind of attention. Increasing penalties for smugglers, etc. So the Clinton administration has started off and I would like to say in regard to the governor — and I think this is very important — when Governor Wilson was in the United States Senate he’s the one who kept calling for cheap labor into the country. He’s the one who fought for bringing in Mexican day workers. And that started the whole jobs magnet. And so it seems to me that now he is attacking in many ways, in his proposal, little children … you know, in schools. He’s certainly turning his attention to people who are ill, but he isn’t even mentioning cracking down on some of the employers who are very unethical. So the bottom line is President Clinton has come out with a plan. Governor Wilson when he was a senator — and it was just in the press recently — is responsible for over a million people who came here — and after ninety days got their legal residency — is now pointing the finger back at this administration. It’s very strange.

FEINSTEIN (10:12): Let me just say something on that.

RENO (10:16): Yes, I will be happy to address it. I’m not a pointing my finger at anybody. I’m trying to make the best judgment I can, and we have made proposals. We’re going to make additional proposals. This is one of the most difficult issues facing America. And I do want to make the best judgment I can after being fully informed on all the facts.

REPORTERS: (crosstalk)

RENO (10:53): One of the things that’s important, that we hear from all the people involved. I have not finished, I’m told, and I’m supposed to hear more after I finish talking with you. Some have said that we need additional people on the border. Others have said that we need additional equipment. Others have said that there are other remedies. What I want to do is speak first hand and make the best judgment, without pointing fingers at anybody, as to what can reasonably be done to address this issue.

REPORTER (11:23): A broad base of [unintelligible] said you can’t hire just six hundred officers and not allow them to have the equipment and the training they need. Would you foresee if it’s not as many officers but that they have the training, and they have the equipment?

RENO (11:41): One of the things that I was concerned about when I took office was to find that there were vehicles here that were sorely needed that didn’t have the appropriate equipment, and I took action to ensure that they had that equipment. That’s what I’m trying to do in visiting here to see what specifics can be done now to make the present personnel as effective as possible in addressing the issues. What is needed in the terms of additional training word or additional equipment that can make them more effective, and then what is reasonably possible in terms of having an impact here on the border, that will not just translate it down the line to the next area or to the next area but they can have a reasonable impact.

REPORTER (12:25): A lot of people from human rights movements have said that Senator Feinstein’s and Governor Wilson’s proposals will create a hate wave against foreigners in this country.

FEINSTEIN (12:53): Well, differ with that. I have never heard that said. My proposals have been very simple. They’ve been enforce our border. They have been speed up the asylum process. They have been crack down on illegal smuggling. They have been remove the option that is given to an illegal alien convicted of a felony — has an option of serving time in this country or in their own country — I say return him to their own country, where that country may be, to serve the time. So my proposals have been all along those lines. And I think most people have regarded them as moderate. Let me say something about immigration that was said to me. This is the first time that I know of in the history of this country that you have had two United States senators from the states impacted by immigration that have been willing to get in the issue. We’re getting into the issue with the view that everybody can have a number of different proposals. The attorney general is going to choose some and not choose others, and that’s fine. But that there should be a reasonable debate and discussion on what we can do. Not to do so I think is to risk an enormous backlash against all immigrants. And that would be most unfortunate. There is a problem. We’ve got to meet that problem with prudent, wise, and moderate solutions, and I think we can. So thank you, everybody.

Source: https://www.c-span.org/video/?48917-1/us-mexico-border-visit

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