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Rubio on Senate Floor: “This Invasion of the U.S. is Going to Get Worse”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a speech on the Senate floor explaining why he opposed the Senate’s $95 billion foreign aid package while America’s border remains open.
- “This invasion of the U.S. is going to get worse…. We are consistently ignoring the needs of everyday, hardworking Americans and putting something or someone above them, over and over and over again. That’s why people lose faith in their institutions.” – Senator Rubio
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“What is happening in Ukraine is not irrelevant to this country and certainly not unimportant….
“There was this push inside of Ukraine to join the European Union and to become European in its orientation. Putin didn’t like it and began threatening and pressuring the president of Ukraine. The president of Ukraine, under that pressure from Putin, backed down. Upon backing down, he faced a fierce public resistance to that decision. And as a result of that, the president of Ukraine ordered security forces into the street to attack protesters and crack down. Those protesters eventually overwhelmed the government and overthrew that government. Basically, the president had to flee under the auspices of Vladimir Putin’s protection.
“Then Putin decided to take what they called ‘little green men,’ because they weren’t dressed like the regular Russian military, and use some of these separatist groups to seize portions of Ukrainian national territory. In addition, the Russians did send their troops to take a portion called Crimea. There’s several reasons why that was important to them. The first is obviously access to the ocean, access to the sea, for the Navy and so forth. The other is because Crimea actually has, historically, been a pretty vibrant and profitable tourism site. They believed it would add to their economy. They even went as far as to conduct a fake referendum, a fake election, in which the people of Crimea allegedly voted to join the Russian Federation.
“And that was the status quo, beginning around 2014 up until the invasion that began almost two years ago. And there was this line of demarcation between the separatist forces backed by Putin and the Ukrainian military, and they faced off, and there were skirmishes and the like.
“Then Putin decided to invade. Why did Putin decide to invade? Well, Putin, I am confident, was told by his people two things. The first thing he was told is that in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine, he would be greeted as a liberator. That people would come out into the streets holding up roses and greet the Russians as liberators, that they wanted to be a part of Russia. The second thing he was told was that Ukraine would collapse, that Zelensky and the leadership in Kyiv would abandon the country.
“They truly believed, the Russians and Putin, that within a week to ten days, they wouldn’t conquer all of Ukraine, but they would certainly conquer much of it, and a friendly puppet government would be installed in Kyiv. They would at least cut the country at half, if not more so, and bring it under the Russian orbit. I point to Belarus as an example: Belarus is theoretically its own independent country, but their leaders do nothing without Vladimir Putin. In fact, when Vladimir Putin decided that he was going to station troops and nuclear weapons in Belarus, Belarus didn’t have the right to say, we don’t want you to do that. They had to do it, and that’s sort of how he envisioned this rump state that he was trying to carve out. That was the thinking that he had.
“It’s one of the things that these authoritarian regimes suffer from. In these authoritarian regimes, no one wants to tell the leader that they’re wrong, so they’re always telling you whatever you want to hear. The other reason why they tell you what you want to hear is because that’s the stuff that gets paid attention to by the leaders. If you want your memo, if you want your intelligence product, if you want your advice and counsel to be listened to in an authoritarian government, then you’re going to generally produce things that that person is going to like. You want to confirm their pre-existing biases. And Putin honestly believed that Ukraine desperately wanted to be with Russia, and that the Russian military was so powerful that they would be able to sweep in and take them out.
“Well, it didn’t work that way. Zelensky did not abandon Kyiv. The Ukrainian people did not greet them as liberators, and they resisted. And it’s important to remember that they resisted before the flood of American aid and European aid went into Ukraine. Ukrainians were resisting, and they were fighting. And the Russians suffered enormous casualties early in the war, when Ukraine wasn’t even well-armed. These are tough people with dignity, and they did not want to be a part of Russia and the Russian Federation. They still do not. That sets the stage for what we face today….
“People ask me, and the junior senator from Kentucky was just discussing this: ‘That’s terrible, what happened, but why is that our business?’ I’ve heard a lot of such talk here today. And so, I think it’s important that we bring a little bit of nuance and balance to this conversation. On the one hand, it is not true that this issue is completely unimportant. It is important. Why is it in our national interest? There are a number of issues why we should care about what’s happening in Ukraine, beyond just feeling sympathy for the people there. There’s a reason why, for example, what we give here can’t be zero.
“Let me begin with one of the reasons why we care. The first is because if the Russian Federation had been successful, if Putin had been successful in taking Ukraine or dividing Ukraine in half, it would completely unravel what’s going on in many other parts of the world. You see, for better or for worse, and I think for better, for the better part of the last 20, 30, 40 years, there’s been a general acknowledgement, for the most part, that you can’t just invade another country and take land away from them because you want it….
“Much of human history, up until the last 80 years, was basically defined by leaders that decided, ‘We really like that land, we really want that land, and we’re going to go take that land, because our army is more powerful than yours.’ In fact, if you just sit down and read history, all of the great historic figures—Alexander the Great, Napoleon—were conquerors. They were all people whose greatness came, not necessarily because of something great they did for the world or some extraordinary advances in their society, but largely from their empire-building, from their desire to conquer as much land and territory as possible. This defined virtually all of the famous and great civilizations, for the most part, that we know about in human history.
“But after the Second World War, the world sort of got together and said, we don’t want to live in a world like that anymore. And we created, not just rules and laws at the international level, but also created defense alliances.
“What would happen now if, suddenly, Russia was able to go in and take Ukraine, just because? Other countries would be watching. There are dozens of territorial disputes going on in the world, right now as we speak, and they range from disputes between China and India on their border to disputes with China and its claims on Taiwan. As we are here, the Maduro dictatorship has decided that Guyana actually belongs to Venezuela. There are some rare earth minerals there, and some really important materials. They’ve discovered a lot of oil. And Venezuela is threatening those oil rigs. They’re threatening that exploration. That’s a territorial dispute right here, right in our region.
“If we live in a world where you can just go in, invade a country, take it, and nothing happens, except maybe a resolution condemning you at the UN, other countries are going to do the same. And before you know it, we are going to be living in a world in which war is literally breaking out in every corner over territorial disputes. That, in and of itself, is of concern.
“The United States is such a big country that our economy and our daily lives are deeply intertwined with things that are happening all over the world. We may not realize it. We may have taken it for granted. But things that are happening halfway around the world have a direct impact on our everyday life. Right now, Iran has unfortunately provided the Houthis, a band of rebels, guerrillas, pirates, and religious zealots, with guided munitions and weapons and long-range rockets that are able to hit tankers. People are going to start to feel it soon. You will be paying more for a lot of things, particularly oil and fuel, because the insurance rates on shipping through the Red Sea are skyrocketing, particularly for vessels flagged by America or American allies. This is just one example. So, what happens around the world does matter. And if war starts to break out in different parts of the world, you’ll feel it in your pocketbook. You’ll feel it in your security. You’ll feel it in migration threats. You’ll face it in all of this. We should care just because of that.
“If you’re sitting in Beijing right now, you’re watching Ukraine very closely. What happens when you move [for a land grab]? What happens when the United States and much of the rest of the world says to you, ’We’re warning you, do not do it,’ and you do it? What happens? Do they sanction you for a few months? Do they maybe provide weaponry for that country, but then, after a few years, sort of give up and become fatigued and walk away? Because if Russia, with an economy a fraction of the size of China’s, is able to weather sanctions and military support for Ukraine, China is calculating, ‘We can certainly weather whatever the United States and other countries are going to throw at us the day we decide we’re going to invade Taiwan.’ It’s a very dangerous situation.
“The second reason why it matters to us is that our reputation does matter. It doesn’t matter as a matter of pride. It matters with real consequence.
“Right now, the Chinese and some others go around the world and are openly saying the following: ‘America is a once-great power in decline. Their society is hollowed out. Don’t you watch television? Don’t you see the videos and the images of everything terrible that’s going on in America right now? Their government is dysfunctional, and their society’s turned upside down, and their kids are killing themselves, and their people are drug-addicted. America is falling apart, and America’s unreliable, completely. Just see what they did in Afghanistan.’
“If, suddenly, we decide we’re done with Ukraine, they’ll point to Ukraine and say: ‘This is what happens to American allies. They are with you until they’re lose interest, and they’ll walk away.’ It would begin to undermine our system of alliances, which really is the one big advantage we have over the Chinese. The Chinese don’t really have any global alliances. The Chinese have no alliances anywhere in the world. The United States has an alliance system whose value cannot be quantified. It’s so valuable you can’t even quantify it. That alliance system would be deeply threatened if, all of a sudden, the United States, after about two years, decided, we’re done with Ukraine, we’re walking away. The damage would be quite significant. So, it does matter. There’s a national interest involved in Ukraine.
“Now, I’ve also heard some hyperbole. When you make public policy, you have to balance things. You have to determine to yourself, if this matters, how much does it matter? And your investment and commitment must be commensurate to your national interest.
“I love to believe in ideals. I love to believe in idealism. But, frankly, foreign policy is the work of pragmatism. Rarely, in foreign policy, do we get a choice between the perfect and the terrible. Oftentimes, in foreign policy, we get two very bad choices, and we’re trying to figure out which one of the two is the least bad for our country. And so, it’s important to have a little balance here. And I’m very confident, based on the amount of time I spend on these things, that no matter what, if tomorrow, we were to walk away and give Ukraine not a dollar more, not a penny more, not a weapon more, the Russian Federation would not be able to take all of Ukraine.
“They couldn’t [take Ukraine] from the very beginning, and they can’t now. Would they be able to make gains beyond what they hold now? Maybe. Probably, a little bit. But they would never be able to take the entirety of the country. If they couldn’t do it back before we were helping Ukraine, if they couldn’t do it back when their military still had capabilities they no longer possess, before they had to start begging the North Koreans for weapons and using Iranian drones and all these other things, they most certainly could not do it now.
“I think it’s also hyperbole to believe that the Ukrainians are going to completely crush the Russian military. Not because they don’t have the will to fight, not because they’re not brave enough, but because the size advantage is extraordinary. The Russians, at the end of the day, have an existing military industry that can produce weaponry. And they are just a bigger country with a lot more people that they can conscript. They have more weight to bring, and they have more leverage on the international stage, primarily because they have a veto at the Security Council. And they have nuclear weapons, the largest nuclear stockpile in the world.
“Another hyperbole is that if we don’t stop this now, Russia will move against NATO. There isn’t a single NATO country that Russia could defeat right now in a war. They couldn’t take Ukraine, who was not a member of NATO, who did not have a military that was well-resourced, whose territory they had already penetrated, whose intelligence services they had already deeply penetrated before this. If they couldn’t do that, and they can’t do it now, how are they going to take any of these other countries?
“Leaving aside the NATO alliance for a moment, Russia is in no shape to invade or take anybody for a substantial period of time. Threaten? Yes. Maybe acts of sabotage, maybe destruction with agents or criminals that they hire. But invade and take a country? The Poles would crush them. The Lithuanians would destroy them. I’ve heard this referred to almost as if we’re living back in 1939, and the Nazi war machine is pushing forward into helpless countries. I get that there’s always a desire to live in a historic time and claim, as some have here on this floor, that this is a historic moment. This is important. This matters. This is a regional conflict with international repercussions that have a direct impact on our national security and our national interests. But it is nothing like the eve of World War Two.
“So, it’s important to have this balance. Now, the greatest geopolitical threat that we face today is the emerging rise of an axis—a very loose alliance, not even an alliance, a partnership—between China, Russia, Iran, and some other junior partners….
“The Iranians and the Russians have some differences. They both want to dominate Syria. The Chinese and the Russians have differences, historic and otherwise. The Russians do not like to be seen as the junior partner of the Chinese, but they are. The Chinese have long claimed that Siberia belongs to them. In fact, there’s a lot of ethnic Chinese living in Siberia. So, they do have some differences.
“But they have been able to somehow put that aside, because they share a common goal that’s important to their national interest, and that is, they want a world in which the world order is favorable to them and unfavorable to us, one in which they have more influence and we have less influence. They want a world order in which the United States can no longer, and our allies can no longer, sanction Russia by denying them access to the banking system because they’ve got their own banking system. They want a world in which the United States cannot threaten them with sanctions because there are alternatives to the dollar as the reserve currency. That’s the world that they all want to live in. And so, they are partnering on this.
“What do they want to see in Ukraine? If you are sitting in Beijing right now, what do you want? How do they view Ukraine? Or, for that matter, how do they view what’s happening in the Middle East? Here’s how they view it. They view it as: ‘We want America to be drained. We want America to be drained by the money and the attention they have to pour into Ukraine. We want America to be drained by the conflict that threatens to escalate in the Middle East.’
“The Chinese want America to be drained in these two parts of the world, because they know the more money we spend and the more attention we give to those parts of the world, the less money and the less attention we will have for the Indo-Pacific. By the way, it’s one of the reasons why the Chinese get so annoyed at the North Koreans, because every time the North Koreans launch rockets and give speeches about how they’re going to blow something up and all these sorts of things, and now partner with the Russians and therefore feel more confident in doing these things, they feel like it’s more of an excuse for the U.S. to pay attention to the Indo-Pacific and deploy military assets to the region.
“So, they want us to be drained. On the other hand, if we don’t commit to these parts of the world, particularly Ukraine, then they’re going to go around and tell everybody: ‘You see? We told you these Americans can’t be counted on. They will abandon you. They will turn on you.’
“So, that’s their goal. Either drain us or, if we pull out, hurt us. Undermine our alliances, so that our allies in Europe will decide, we’re not going to partner with [America] anymore. So that the nations of the Middle East will no longer cooperate with us, because we can’t be trusted. So that nations in the Indo-Pacific will cut the best deal they can with China, because America can no longer be trusted.
“So, what is our goal? What should our goal be? Our goal should be to remain committed to helping Ukraine, so that we’re not seen as unreliable and undermined in our credibility, but do it in a way that doesn’t drain us. Do it in a way that does not distract us from our ability to focus on all these other parts of the world that are equally or more important. That’s the kind of balancing act….
“By the way, no matter what, this spending [on Ukraine] cannot be zero. And the reason why it cannot be zero is because $20 billion of the $60 billion is to buy more weapons for ourselves. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. The aid we’ve given Ukraine, it’s not pallets of cash. We had rifles, we had guns, we had explosives, we had bombs, we had rockets, and we had anti-aircraft capabilities in our stocks, and we gave it to them. We gave it to them to use, but now we don’t have it. So, we have to buy it. We have to restock what we gave them. That’s $20 billion of the $60 billion. So, at a minimum, it has to be $20 billion, because, otherwise, we remain vulnerable.
“People want a strategy. Well, our strategic objective here is to be supportive of Ukraine, but not in a way that makes us incapable of being able to concentrate on the other parts and other matters that matter to us.
“As far as how this [war] turns out, I’ve long resisted talking about it in this way, because I didn’t want to undermine the position of Ukraine in any negotiated outcome, but ultimately, the conflict in Ukraine will end in a negotiated outcome. As I’ve already said, the Ukrainians are not going to wipe out the Russian military, and the Russians are not going to be able to conquer half of Ukraine. I think the Russians already fully understand that their objectives, the day they invaded, are out of reach.
“What the Russians want now is to negotiate a deal, the best deal they possibly can, holding on to as much Ukrainian land as they can get their hands on, and to force and compel the neutrality of Ukraine. In essence, what the Russians want at this point is to have enough military success so they can gain a little bit more territory, but also force any future Ukrainian government to be neutral, not to be a member of NATO, not to be allied with the West. That is the Russian goal.
“As in any negotiation, it’s about leverage. Negotiation is about who has the most leverage, and who is in the most desperate need of a deal? Part of the reason why we should not abandon Ukraine and give them nothing is because we want them to have the strongest possible negotiating leverage.”
“If we cut all of Ukraine’s money and said we were done with Ukraine, Ukraine would have no leverage. Russia would have all the leverage. The Russians would then be able to negotiate a deal that could very much leave us with a Ukraine that looks like Belarus, with a puppet government, and with Russia holding significant land. And then, multiple countries around the world are going to see that as an example of what they could get away with in their regional conflict. And that would matter. As I’ve already explained, that would have an impact on us, as a country.
“So, that needs to be our goal. We want to give them enough help so that they have the strongest possible hand in a negotiated settlement at some point. But here’s my problem with what we’re going to be voting on here in a few hours. As important as all of this is—as important as what’s happened in the invasion of Ukraine is—our country is facing an invasion, too.
“If I walked out of these doors tomorrow, the overwhelming majority of people would say: ‘Okay, I don’t have anything against Ukraine. I actually hope Ukraine wins. I don’t like Putin. I get everything you said about our national interest. But how can we focus on that and not at least also focus on what’s happening to us in our country, at our southern border?’ It makes no sense to people.
“And it’s not just isolated to this instance. When was the last time the Senate met over a weekend—Super Bowl weekend, of all things—for hours and hours and hours, and basically said, we’re going to stay here until we get it done, because it’s that important? Other than funding the government, when is the last time that you saw Congress and the Senate spend that much time working on something that is a direct priority of the American people? It doesn’t happen.
“If I were to summarize what most people out there are going to say, I would say: ‘Hold on a second. How could we be so focused on an invasion of another country and do nothing about the invasion of ours?’ And that’s what we face at the southern border. There’s no other way to describe it.
“I’ll address some of the points that will be raised in response to what I just said. The first is there was a bill, a bipartisanly negotiated bill, and you rejected it.
“Well, first of all, I didn’t negotiate it. I didn’t even know what was in it until the Sunday that it was released, a week ago. And there were some things in it that I think are positive, but I rejected it because, when I took the sum of it and read its details, I was convinced beyond any doubt in my mind that had we passed that legislation, yes, we would have gotten some improvements on asylum language, which is something we should do, but it had other provisions that actually made things worse in the long term.
“One that I continue to point to is that we were going to have, in this country, thousands of new asylum agents, who would have the power at the border to give someone an immediate work permit. Today, even if you ask for asylum, you have to wait six months to get one, while this would give them a work permit on the spot, which would be an enormous magnet for more people to come. ‘You mean I can come to the U.S., say the magic words, and I get a work permit right away?’ You’re going to see the numbers spike.
“But here’s the other thing these asylum agents would have the power to do. These asylum agents will now have the power to give them asylum right there and then. The process today would be an asylum judge. That’s taking a very long time, and those agents would make things more efficient. But it wouldn’t make it better. It would actually incentivize more flow. People would realize, we could get in, and we might actually have a pretty substantial chance—say it’s 30 or 40 percent—of being given a work permit or asylum right there on the spot. And once you have asylum, it is basically the equivalent of a green card.
“Once you are given asylum, you are five years away from being a citizen. This is what many people on the other side of this aisle want. It’s what many Democratic activists openly want. They want more citizens who are grateful because they know which party is the one that gave them asylum and citizenship, because they’ll become voters for them.
“That provision alone would increase the number of people coming to this country. Today, they come knowing they’ll be released. They’ll have to wait six months to get a work permit, and at some point they’re going to have to show up for an asylum hearing. [With this bill], they would come knowing they have a real chance, not just to get released, but to get an immediate work permit and maybe even be granted asylum on the spot. That would not make our system better. It would make it worse. That alone was a reason why I could not support that deal.
“But I want to be clear, when people go around saying, we gave you exactly what you wanted, and you turned it down, they’re not serious about border security. You did not give me what I wanted. I can’t speak for anybody else. I don’t know what other people told you they wanted. I never even said I wanted a bill. I said I wanted the president to reverse the executive orders that he issued that created the migratory crisis that we now face, that created this invasion….
“On his first day in office, after Biden gets elected, he issues a 100-day moratorium on deportations. We’re not deporting anyone for 100 days. [This is on top of the fact that] throughout the time he campaigned for president, the whole world heard him say, I’m going to get rid of all the Trump policies. So, already, people that want to come into our country are just waiting for the election to go.
“I said this the other day when I gave a speech: this is not something that I picked up from some briefing or some document I read or some experts that came in. I get this from the people that actually came, because a lot of them live in Miami, and their relatives live in Miami.
“Their decisions about coming to the United States illegally are not built on interpretations of the law. Most of them don’t even know what our immigration laws are. Many of them misunderstand our immigration laws. They come based on what they believe our policies are. And you have traffickers that are telling them things that aren’t true, but you also have perception. And the perception was, Trump was restrictive, Trump did everything to stop people from coming, but Biden is going to do the opposite. He gets elected. That leads to a spike….
“Something else happened in that period of time. Joe Biden became the first president in the modern history of our country that decided we would not detain virtually anyone who came into this country unlawfully. People love to say immigration law is so complicated, so difficult, so hard to understand. It’s complex, certainly, to practice. But, at its core, it’s pretty straightforward. Here’s what the law says, and I’m paraphrasing: ‘Here are the people who are allowed to come into the United States, and if anyone who comes into the United States is not supposed to be here, you are to detain them until removal.’ Bottom line: you’re either allowed to enter the country, or you’re not. And if you’re not, and you enter illegally, they are supposed to detain you until they remove you.
“Now, there have always been exceptions. There are some very narrow exceptions that have always been applied on a case by case basis, by every president. Obama applied it that way. And those exceptions for humanitarian concerns and things of this nature were designed for individual cases.
“So, a well-known figure in China or in some other part of the world shows up, and everybody knows who they are, and they’re being oppressed, so they let them in. Or, a person is dying, and if you send them back, they may die on the flight home, so you let them in. There’s always been that exception.
“Biden made the exception into the rule. He basically decided, it is inhumane to detain anyone, so we’re going to release virtually everyone: 85 percent, sometimes 90 percent. People realized very quickly, forget about the particulars of the law—if I can get to the border, and I turn myself over to a border agent, my chances of being released into the country are 85 percent or higher. And they know it, because they know people that did it.
“This is how this works. I have literally had people come up to me and show me: ‘Look at what I Zelled. Look at the Cash App payment that I made, that some guy cost me five grand or ten grand to get my family over here, so they could come in. I paid them to bring them in.’ They show it to me, and I ask them, ‘How did you know about this?’ They say, ‘Because I know other people that did it.’
“Somebody comes illegally. They turn themselves in. They’re released, and they’re turned over to a non-government organization, a charity. And that charity tells you all the benefits you qualify for, depending on the jurisdiction they send you to. They may even give you a plane ticket or a bus ticket. They make it to wherever they’re going, and they call home, and they tell everybody, here’s how I did it, here’s how I came. And more people come behind them and follow them.
“So, this spike is easy to understand. Joe Biden changed the way we enforce immigration law through executive orders. He basically announced, we’re not going to enforce immigration law, we’re going to release everyone. And people figured it out, and they started coming, and the invasion began.
“That’s what created the problem, not a law. Today, our immigration statutes are identical today to what they were on this day during all those other years…. None of these other excuses people come up with [are satisfying]. Did the climate change that much from one month to the next? What changed was a new president who said, we want you to come, we’ll release you.
“The year 2021 ended with over 1.7 million total encounters at the southern border. Of that fiscal year, the highest month was over 213,000 encounters at the border. If you look at the last year of the Trump presidency, there were 458,000 encounters at the southern border. It went from 458,000 in the last year of the Trump presidency to 1.7 million in the first year of the Biden presidency, under the same immigration law. The immigration law did not change. What changed was the president and his policies. That’s what created this crisis, and that’s how you fix it.
“Now, obviously, the president doesn’t want to fix it. There are reasons why he doesn’t want to change [his policies]. The first is, it would be admitting Trump was right. To change it back to what those policies were is basically to admit Trump was right about immigration, and the things he did made sense, and he obviously doesn’t want to do that. The second reason why he can’t change it is because he has an activist base in his party that will go completely bonkers.
“He has an activist base in his party that believes that we should have borderless countries. They believe that people should be allowed to live wherever they want. I’m not telling you it’s a majority. I’m not telling you it’s 30 percent. But it’s a big and powerful activist base who will protest and heckle and threaten to vote against you because they believe that humans have a right to live in any country in the world they want. They admit it openly. I’ve heard them say it to my face. And so, he won’t do it because of them, either.
“But that’s what will fix it: reverse the policies that [created this situation]. That’s what I asked for. They didn’t do it. So, I can’t speak for anybody else, but don’t tell me that you gave us what I wanted on the border. You did not. I didn’t ask you for a law. The law? The law can be improved, but the law is not the reason why we got that spike…. What changed was those policies. And what will change that back is to go back to some of those policies, for Biden to use executive orders to repeal the executive orders that he put in place that created this crisis.
“Now, this is where people tell me, America can help Ukraine and can also deal with the border. I agree with that. Not only can we do it, we should do it. My problem with this bill is, it doesn’t do it. It only does one of the two things.
“The choice we were given was: ‘Here is this fake Immigration enforcement. We’re going to call it immigration enforcement, but it’s not really immigration enforcement. And here’s Ukraine money, which is real money. If you don’t take it, then we’re going to say that you voted against border security.’ They get what they want. What they want is to be able to not do anything on the border and be able to blame Republicans for it. It’s a political ploy, and that’s what we’re faced here today. The problem I have with this bill is, we’re not doing both. If we were getting, from the president, real changes in his border policies to bring this under control, we might not even be here tonight. We might have gotten this done already, and I’d have been supportive.
“The other thing you’ll hear people say is, you’re holding Ukraine hostage over our border. Well, I’d say a couple of things about that.
“The first is, you’re holding Israel hostage over Ukraine. If you put a bill on this floor right now that contained Taiwan and Israel aid, it would probably pass with 89-90 votes. But they didn’t. They held it hostage until they got Ukraine. They say we’re holding the Ukraine hostage over the border, but they’re holding Israel hostage over Ukraine. And so, you’re now faced with a bill that says: ‘You want to help Israel? You have to do what we want on Ukraine, and you get nothing on the border.’
“The other argument I’ve heard is, these are just people that are against helping Ukraine, and they’re just using this as an excuse to kill the bill. I’ve already explained to you, that’s not me. But I wanted us to do something real about our national security, about our invasion, about our border. Is it leverage? Yes.
“In this process, in this place, this is the only way you sometimes get things done. The only way you get things done is by holding up something that you might support, but the other side really wants, in exchange for something that you want. And in this case, there is no shame in telling you that yes, it was used as leverage—unsuccessfully, unfortunately. I have no shame in saying that, because the leverage of what I was asking for is what our people need, what our country needs. It’s a priority for our country. It’s important for our country.
“What good are we to Ukraine, what good is America to NATO, what good is America to the Indo-Pacific, what good are we as a nation—now and in the years to come, to any other nation on earth—if we can’t even take care of our own problems here at home? And this is a problem. This is not a small matter. This is not a seasonal ebb and flow. This is not a transitory issue.
“This invasion of the United States is going to get worse, not better. It’s going to get worse in terms of numbers, and it’s going to get worse in terms of severity inside of our country. We’re being overrun, not by a few thousand people, but by over 3.5 million people that have been released into this country that we know about, 600,000 of whom either have criminal records or pending criminal matters.
“They’ll tell you, we know who a lot of these people are. They don’t even interview some of these people. But even if they did, they don’t know who these people are, because I know enough about that part of the world to tell you, you can buy fake documents from over a dozen countries in the Western Hemisphere. If you have enough money on you, you can go somewhere and get an official government document that says your name is José Álvarez or Raúl Sanchez, or whatever you want your name to be. And then, you show up at the border, and that’s who we think you are.
“We have no idea who some of these people are. We have no idea if they have criminal records. You think the Venezuelan authorities are producing their criminal records and biometrics to us? You think the Cuban authorities are doing that? You think people coming from Africa, people coming from all over the world, that those places are actually providing that for us? The only thing we can tell is, are they in our terrorist database? And there are a lot of terrorists that are not in the database until they commit terror acts and, assuming they survive it, you get your hands on them. We have no idea who these people are.
“People say, most of them are probably good people. I’m sure, but that’s not the point. The point is, if you let in three, four, five million people, some percentage of them are going to be bad. Some percentage of them are going to be criminals. I don’t care where they came from. You take a million people from anywhere in the world, at any time, some percentage of that million are going to turn out to be bad people at some point and do harm.”
“And you’re already seeing it. We have a migrant crime wave going on in New York and in other major cities. They’re not committing crimes because they’re migrants, but they’re committing crimes because they’re criminals. They were criminals in their own country. You think these people just got here the other day and learned how to pickpocket?
“I don’t know if you heard this story: a 15-year-old went in to shoplift, was confronted by a security officer, pulled out a gun, tried to kill the police officer, and, a block away, fired the gun again. They arrested him. Another roving gang attacked two police officers at a train station. And those are just the ones you’ve heard about. It’s a crime wave. And it’s going to get worse.
“The Venezuelan community in South Florida has been telling me for the better part of a year that what is coming now are gang members. And I didn’t know how to judge their claim or what they were saying. Now I see they were right. Some of them didn’t come straight from Venezuela. They left Venezuela, and they were committing crimes in Peru, they were committing crimes in Brazil, they were committing crimes in Colombia, until they realized they could come to America, where you can steal even more. They saw their opportunity, because Biden said, if you come, we’ll release you. They came. Now we have a crime wave, and it’s only going to get worse.
“I saw the mayor of Denver the other day crying and complaining. He wants more money. Denver is a sanctuary city. These are places that passed laws that basically said: ‘If you come here, and you’re here illegally, don’t worry, we’re going to protect you. We’re not going to arrest you. We’re not going to ask questions. If you are arrested, we’re not going to deport you. We’re going to give you stuff and benefits.’ So, of course, people go there. They go there, and it costs them money. You have to close your schools. You have to spend money on migrant shelters. You have to spend money on all these things, and now, they’re complaining about it.
“And now, in this bill that they tried to get us to pack, we were going to send them hundreds of millions of dollars to bail them out for being sanctuary cities. Meanwhile, they’re not spending that money on the homeless Americans that live in their communities. They’re taking that money out of services, from the taxpayers of those communities. So, people go to work, they work hard, they pay their taxes, and their money is taken and given to people that came into our country illegally.
“And what about terrorism? I want to be careful, because I don’t want to divulge anything, so just use common sense. Do you think that terrorists around the world—do you think ISIS and al-Qaeda and Hezbollah—do you think they are completely unaware of this? Do you think those guys don’t know that the most effective trafficking organization in the history of mankind is operating off our southern border? You don’t think they know that? And you don’t think they’re tapped into that? And you don’t think that they would push terrorists into this country that way? Well, I think common sense tells you they would.
“In the time remaining, I want to briefly talk about Israel, because it’s part of this bill.
“It’s interesting that in the last couple of days, there has been this freak out over something that Trump said about NATO. Everybody’s running around freaking out. ‘Oh my God, he’s going to get us out of NATO.’ They forget Trump was already president once, and he didn’t pull us out. In fact, he deployed extra troops to Poland. We increased our troop presence in Poland, because Poland was contributing towards NATO. But put that aside for a moment….
“Israel is in a war right now, an existential war. Israel’s enemies want to destroy Israel. They don’t want to harm Israel. They don’t want to defeat the Israeli military. They want to destroy Israel. They are in a war right now. And we have a president that’s undermining Israel.
“I just want to go off this article from NBC, which, as we know, is one of the most conservative outlets in America, right? This is from them: ‘President Joe Biden has been venting his frustration in private conversations with campaign donors over his inability to persuade Israel to change its military tactics in Gaza. He’s been trying to get Israel to agree to a ceasefire. But Netanyahu is “giving him hell.” Netanyahu “is impossible to deal with.” He feels like this is enough, one of the people said of Biden….
“‘In some of his private conversations, his descriptions of dealing with Netanyahu are peppered with contemptuous references to Netanyahu as “this guy.” In at least three recent instances, Biden called Netanyahu [something I can’t say on the Senate floor], according to three people directly familiar with his comments.’ It goes on: ‘He’s grown steadily more frustrated with the rising Palestinian civilian death toll in Gaza. He took a sharper tone on Thursday and described Israel’s military assault in Gaza as “over the top.”’ So, I guess this bill is funding Israel’s ‘over-the-top’ effort to defeat a terrorist group that didn’t just massacre over 1,000 Israelis, but whose organizing principles include the destruction of the Jewish state.
“‘Frustrations with Netanyahu have also not led to major policy shifts, but his administration has begun to consider such options. Two weeks ago, officials told NBC news that the administration was discussing delaying or slowing U.S. weapons sales to Israel as leverage to get Netanyahu to dial down Israeli military operations in Gaza.’ As leverage. So, you are going to vote for a bill to give money to Israel, so Biden can use it as leverage against our ally Israel.
“This is an ally involved in a war right now. It’s not theoretical. It’s not a campaign speech. It’s right now. You’re worried about undermining NATO? Worry about undermining our ally Israel in a war right now, a real war.
“They’re drafting options for formally recognizing an independent Palestinian state, the so-called two-state solution. How are you going to reach that? That’s the ideal outcome in a perfect world. In the real world, how are you going to have a two-state solution with groups whose goal is a one-state solution? The Palestinian organizations, the PLO in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, don’t have a two-state solution. They want a one-state solution. Their one-state solution is that, from the river to the sea, there will not be a single Jew. That’s their solution. And you want to give them their own territory, where they can launch more attacks to achieve this goal?
“How does this wind up in the press? This is a strategic leak. They put this out there to message their activist base, because there is an activist base within the Democratic coalition that is threatening to vote against Biden. We’ve seen these reports. That’s why he sent the White House aides to go meet with antisemitic, pro-Hamas, pro-Hezbollah activists in Michigan last week. People that claim that our government is controlled by Jewish money, that’s who they met with. These are the people that are disrupting the speeches, calling the president ‘Genocide Joe.’ That’s who he met with. And this is designed to try to appease them, because they’re threatening to vote against them.
“That’s undermining an ally. That’s happening right now.
“As for all this talk about a ceasefire, let me tell you how we can have a ceasefire. Hamas can surrender its weapons, and it can release its hostages. But they won’t. Hamas doesn’t care how many Palestinian civilians die. In fact, they deliberately position military targets next to civilians so that civilians get killed. They want civilians to be killed.
“They steal the aid money. Has anyone wondered, how much does it cost to build the tunnels that they have built under the ground in Gaza? They’ve spent millions of dollars building tunnels, not building hospitals, not building schools, not building industries, not creating jobs for the people of Gaza. They’ve built tunnels for their terrorists, so they could hide hostages, so they could hide weapons, so they could infiltrate and kill Jews in Israel. That’s what they spend their money on. We’re going to send them more of that money. When this bill passes, that’s what you’re voting for. It’s in there.
“This is part of a broader problem. People have to be watching this and saying, these people are completely out of touch with our priorities, they’ve abandoned all common sense. The list of things that prove this are extraordinary.
“One of the things I see a lot in South Florida are people that have been in this country, maybe they came from Cuba 45 years ago, they’ve worked here their entire lives, they’re retired, they get $800, $900, $1,000 a month from Social Security, and then they run into somebody who just got here from Cuba three months ago, who’s 29 years old, doesn’t work, and is given $1,500 a month in benefits by our government because they’re a refugee. That refugee, a year later, is traveling back to Cuba 15 times.
“So, you’re a refugee fleeing oppression from a place that you now go back and visit 15 times the following year? In the meantime, we’re giving you Medicaid, food stamps, health care for your children, and cash payments from the refugee fund. Imagine if you’ve been working here for 40 years, and your Social Security check is smaller than the benefits going to a 28-year-old, able-bodied person who just got here. That’s real. That happens. That’s happening every day. That makes no sense.
“How about this? Biden has issued a visa ban and sanctions against Israeli settlers. Where’s the visa ban and sanctions on Hamas supporters who are here on student visas? We would never have given them visas if they were Hamas supporters. But now that they’re here, they can go up and down the street calling for intifada, saying antisemitic stuff, and tearing down posters. We haven’t taken away a single student visa or any other visitor visa. Go after the Israeli settlers, but not after the Hamas terrorists and Hamas terrorism supporters in our own country? That’s happening.
“When the horrible events of January 6th happened, within hours we had the tallest fences you’ve ever seen, barbed wire, and National Guard from multiple states. We had more National Guard people here than we had members of Congress. It was a five to one ratio. There were people sleeping in the kitchen, sleeping in the dining room. This place was protected. When a state decides, we’re going to build a fence and deploy the National Guard to protect our state and our sovereignty, let’s go to the Supreme Court and force them to tear it down.
“So, you’ll build a fence and flood this place with the National Guard to protect yourself in this Capitol, but you won’t do it to protect our country? That makes no sense to people. That makes no sense.
“How about this? You know one of the reasons why Russia invaded Ukraine? Because they believed that Europe was so dependent on them for natural gas, they wouldn’t do anything about it. Well, Europe is doing something about it. And the U.S. says, we will export our natural gas surpluses to you, so you don’t have to depend on the Russians. And what does this administration do? They suspended LNG exports a couple of weeks ago, because a handful of TikTok influencers demanded it because of the climate. That makes no sense. But they did it.
“On issue after issue, we either have lost all common sense, or we are consistently ignoring the needs of everyday, hard-working Americans and putting something or someone above them, over and over and over again. That’s why people lose faith in institutions. That’s why they lose faith in leaders. That’s why they lose faith in our process.
“That’s what leads to populism. In the history of the world, over and over again, when people believe that their legitimate needs are being ignored by the people who run the government, they have gone in one of two directions, and they are both toxic. One is socialism, the promise that the victim will rule against the oppressor, and government’s going to fix it all by controlling the economy and your lives. The other direction in which they go is ethnic nationalism. The argument that all of this is happening because somebody of another race, another color, another religion, is to blame.
“That’s the danger in all of this. That’s why it’s always so important that a republic is capable of understanding and responding to the needs of the people. In our country for the better part of 25 to 30 years, people have been told, it doesn’t matter that we’re going to send our factories and our jobs halfway around the world to another country. Don’t worry, you’re going to learn how to code, and you’re going to find a new job making a lot more money. Well, they never got to learn how to code, and they never found a better job…. They’re tired of being put in second place.
“It’s happened too often, and it’s happening here again, now. And that’s why I’m not going to support this bill. Because it violates our most important responsibility, and that is to give voice to the people of this country and stop putting them in second place behind everything and everyone else.”