Texas Congressman Proposes Armed Border Militia
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Here in the US, a Texas congressman wants to create armed citizen militias to protect the Southern border because of his concerns over what he sees as uncontrolled illegal immigration. John Culberson is a Texas Republican. He recently introduced a bill to authorize and pay for these militias. It's called the Border Protection Corps Act. We spoke earlier.
Representative JOHN CULBERSON (Republican, Texas): We need boots and beds as quickly as possible to protect our border. And, in fact, the FBI director, Alex, testified to my subcommittee in Congress under oath that there are individuals from countries with known al-Qaeda connections crossing the border, pretending to be Hispanic, hiding among the illegal aliens. So I called upon the nation's longest and most honorable tradition, trusting the American people. Anyone, frankly, in the United States can volunteer to serve in this citizen militia that I've created with the Border Protection Corps with now 50 members of Congress as co-authors, calling on Americans to come forward to serve under the direct supervision and control of local law enforcement authorities. People would be trained, equipped, deployed under the command of governors of the border states.
CHADWICK: But, Congressman...
Rep. CULBERSON: Yes, sir?
CHADWICK: ...when you say they'll be trained, how much training--I mean, you know, law enforcement people go through a lot of training before they're given guns...
Rep. CULBERSON: Yeah.
CHADWICK: ...and authorized to use them to go out and round people up.
Rep. CULBERSON: Yeah. Yeah.
CHADWICK: It sounds like it could be dangerous.
Rep. CULBERSON: Well, they will be trained and equipped and deployed by the governors of the states. The training level will be up to the governors and local law enforcement. And this is a true national emergency. The borders are wide open, they are undefended. Law enforcement officers along the border have never see it this bad before. Full-scale war has erupted in Nuevo Laredo. Terrorists are crossing the border, Alex.
CHADWICK: Nuevo Laredo is the city in Mexico that's just on the border, and things do appear to be very badly off down there. But you know, times have changed since the Minutemen and the Revolutionary War. But it...
Rep. CULBERSON: Not much.
CHADWICK: Not much?
Rep. CULBERSON: No, sir. No, really, we need to trust the American people. No, there's no change in the good hearts and the good sense of the American people. 9/11 deputized every American, Alex, but not everyone can serve in the military or the CIA or the FBI or law enforcement. We need to trust the individual American out there who wants to help, who wants to be a part of this. Just as everyone participated in World War II, we are in a war with terrorists who are sneaking into this country. They are here, they have walked over the border and when they blow us up again, they will laugh at us and say that `We walked over the Southern border pretending to be Hispanic because you did not protect us. You let us in.'
CHADWICK: But, Congressman, if there is this need on the border, why not hire more Border Patrol agents or...
Rep. CULBERSON: We--we've tried that. We...
CHADWICK: ...put the Army down there or something like that, people who truly are trained and know how to oper...
Rep. CULBERSON: You don't trust yourself, Alex? If you were--You don't trust yourself? We've already done that. The Congress has authorized 10,000...
Rep. CULBERSON: ...new Border Patrol agents, Alex, and the president refuses to use them. We've tried to fund them; the president won't do it. I trust you, Alex. If you have no criminal record--my bill requires that you have no criminal record, no history of mental illness. My bill uses $6.8 billion in--get this--unspent, untouched Homeland Security money; 6.8 billion, sitting there for longer than two years. That's criminal. I trust you. If you'll go out and get the training and take either your own weapon or the governor will provide you with a weapon or the local law enforcement authorities, you'll ride alongside a police officer in a police car. You'll be a deputized law enforcement officer, Alex, and we need you in Texas. We'd love to have you come down and volunteer.
CHADWICK: But are you at all concerned about how it might look to other people? You know, I imagine a political cartoonist rendering the Statue of Liberty not holding up a torch, but holding up a gun, you know, saying, `This is now how America looks to people who are not Americans.'
Rep. CULBERSON: Now, Alex, you got to remember we're at war with terrorists who are sneaking into the country assuming false identities. They're walking over the Southern border as we speak. They will blow us up, Alex. There's going to be a massive attack on the United States; it'll dwarf 9/11. Now there's no way the Border Patrol can handle it. The president simply will not, for whatever reasons--and I love him and I'm glad he's there, but he will not protect our borders. So what do we do?
CHADWICK: You're saying President Bush, a Texan, a Republican, the man who is leading the war on terror--you're saying...
Rep. CULBERSON: Will not protect the borders. No, sir. And I don't know why. I don't understand it. I've tried for 12 months quietly, persistently to get the White House to focus on this. They won't do it. So I'm done. I'm fed up. My constituents are fed up. The borders are wide open. They're going to blow us up and they will laugh at us and they'll say they walked over the border. And the president simply won't protect the borders, and I don't understand why.
CHADWICK: Congressman John Culberson of Texas. Congressman, thank you for being with us on DAY TO DAY.
Rep. CULBERSON: Thank you.