- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

Immigration legislation before the Senate this week should include a condemnation of rapes by alien smugglers on the U.S.-Mexico border and encourage “in the strongest possible terms” the Mexican government to prevent such crimes, a Florida congresswoman said.

“These women and young girls are being raped all along the southern border, and the sight of women’s undergarments hanging from border fences as trophies is appalling,” said Republican Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. “They are entrusting their futures to these smugglers, or coyotes, to bring them across the border, but instead of gaining freedom, they’re being raped and exploited.

“And it seems the Mexican government is doing nothing about it,” said Mrs. Brown-Waite, whose amendment to a House immigration-enforcement bill calling for Congress to condemn the rapes was passed. “Congress cannot and should not tolerate this behavior,” she added.

The amendment to the House-passed Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 called on Congress to condemn the rapes by smugglers along the border and urged the Mexican government to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to take immediate action to prevent such crimes.

“Although these women are seeking entry into the United States illegally, this unmerciful crime is one of many problems occurring along our borders,” Mrs. Brown-Waite said. “By declaring condemnation of this wrongdoing and encouraging action by both parties, we are reaffirming the fact that the lawlessness along our borders must be eliminated.”

The Senate begins debate this week on comprehensive immigration reform, including some form of guest-worker legislation that has been proposed in several competing bills. The House passed its immigration bill in December.

Mrs. Brown-Waite, who described lawlessness along the U.S.-Mexico border as unprecedented, said numerous newspaper articles have told of Minuteman volunteers being haunted by the cries of women being raped and abused, “who, when they first heard the cries, actually thought they were coyotes wailing in the desert.”

She said that there have been stories of mattresses tucked in caves and that the crimes sometimes involve girls as young as 9 and 10.

In a telephone interview from her home in Florida, Mrs. Brown-Waite said that the U.S. government has waited “far too long” to respond to the problem and that she was “delighted” when the House approved the amendment. She said the Senate “hopefully will do the same.”

“We all understand that the best mechanism for preventing these rapes is to encourage legal citizenship and to stop people from crossing our borders illegally and, therefore, putting themselves in harm’s way,” she said.

“But by including my amendment in the underlying legislation, the House sent a loud and clear message of its dedication to improving all aspects of border security.”

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