[Congressional Record: September 21, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. Brownback, Mr. Grassley, Mr.
Leahy, and Ms. Cantwell):
S. 1452. A bill to provide for electronic access by the Department of
State and Immigration and Naturalization Service to certain information
in the criminal history records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
to determine whether or not a visa applicant or applicant for admission
criminal record; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, it is a privilege to join my colleagues
Senators Brownback, Leahy, Grassley, and Cantwell in introducing
immigration legislation that will enhance our intelligence capabilities
and improve our border security.
These critical functions are an important part of the massive
challenges now facing the country in the wake of last week's terrorist
attacks. These functions are the shared responsibility of the FBI, the
INS, and the State Department. This legislation will provide U.S.
consular officers and the INS, including inspectors at our ports of
entry, with electronic access to information located within certain FBI
databases, such as the National Crime Information Center's Interstate
Identification Index, the Wanted Persons File, and other files
maintained by the National Crime Information Center. Electronic access
to this information will enable the State Department and the INS to act
immediately to identify high-risk criminals seeking admission to the
United States or seeking other immigration benefits.
Clearly, we must improve the security and intelligence capabilities
of the Nation. But we must do so without violating the basic rights and
liberties of the American people. Our legislation includes provisions
to protect individual privacy. It authorizes the Secretary of State to
draft regulations which will appropriately limit the use of the FBI's
information. These regulations will require the information to be
safeguarded from unnecessary dissemination, so that it is used only for
the purpose of making decisions on the issuance or denial of visas or
immigration benefits, and so that its confidentiality will be
maintained to protect the privacy rights of those who are the subject
of the information.
These steps are needed now. We must also examine other ideas to
improve safety at the Nation's borders and strengthen our overall
ability as much as possible to prevent future terrorist attacks.
I urge all of my colleagues to support this important legislation.
By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mr. Stevens):
S. 1455. A bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to regulate
the training of aliens to operate jet-propelled aircraft, and for other
purposes; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Ms. SNOWE. Madam President, I am sure I am not alone in finding that
one of the more disturbing revelations of the investigation into the
September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon is
that over half of the hijackers received flight instruction at American
facilities. Investigators have named ten separate flying schools across
the United States, from California to Oklahoma to Florida, where the
hijacking suspects may have engaged in flight training in one form or
another. In addition, it is believed that one of these suspects was
able to gain legal entry into the United States through the assistance
of a flight school that provided immigration documentation.
I know that this ironic turn of events, the schools dedicated to the
safety of the airline industry were unwittingly utilized to facilitate
the worst airline disaster in history, has school administrators and
instructors asking themselves, ``What if . . .'' as they look in the
mirror every morning.
We need to take action now to remove the doubts of the instructors as
well as restore confidence in student pilots engaged in valid training.
That is why I am introducing legislation to require thorough background
checks on foreign nationals seeking advanced flight or jet aircraft
training in American flight schools.
At present the Federal Aviation Administration FAA, regulates course
content at these schools and does it well, the U.S. has the best
training program in the world and pilot certification from the FAA is
considered the industry ``gold standard.'' That is why a large number
of foreign students are attracted to American schools. And we want to
continue to encourage foreign participation at our schools, it assures
aviation safety world wide.
However, the FAA does not regulate who can participate in pilot
training, be it glider plane basics or 757 advanced training. More
specifically, the requirement for foreign students is limited to
demonstrated English proficiency and proper immigration documentation.
Given the events of September 11, it is imperative that the screening
process for pilot trainees be improved. As such, the legislation I am
introducing today mandates the completion of security checks before
foreign nationals may commence advanced jet training. Specifically, by
requiring that the Attorney General carry out background investigations
on individuals seeking such training, the legislation ensures a
comprehensive review against records held by such agencies as the FBI,
INS, and DEA will be carried out prior to starting training on any
simulator or jet powered aircraft. Also, given the recent tragedies in
New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, all foreign nationals
currently in training would be required to stop until a satisfactory
background check is completed.
I want to urge my colleagues to join me in taking this small but
critical step to prevent a repeat of unintentionally training those who
would terrorize our cities and skies and ask for their support in
increasing security requirements for flight training.
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