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[Congressional Record: October 3, 2001 (Extensions)]
[Page E1791-E1792]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                           HON. DOUG BEREUTER

                              of nebraska

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, October 3, 2001

  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, this Member wishes to commend to his 
colleagues the October 1, 2001, and the October 2, 2001, editorials 
from the Omaha World-Herald entitled ``Loosey-Goosey Borders'' and 
``Loosey-Goosey Borders: II.'' For many years, this Member has argued 
that it is critical to U.S. security interests to have our government 
energetically reform and effectively implement visa control for foreign 
nationals and to screen those foreign nationals who are seeking to be 
accepted as legitimate refugees or immigrants. As the October 1st 
editorial notes, ``U.S. law enforcement agencies should know who is 
entering the country and where they are supposed to be.'' Sadly, it 
took the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, for the 
American public to fully understand why that is the case.

              [From the Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 1, 2001]

                         Loosey-Goosey Borders

       One of the greatest challenges facing the United States now 
     is how to maintain an open, free society while protecting the 
     country from terrorists who exploit that freedom. A key 
     element of the question is the millions of foreigners who 
     enter the United States each year, some of whom have had 
     terror, not touring, on their mind.
       In 1998, about 30 million people entered the country on 
     visitors' visas, a form that is relatively easy to obtain, 
     sometimes after only a few routine questions. Then this is 
     what happens: nothing. Once these visitors arrive, the U.S. 
     government washes its hands of them. They are never checked 
     on unless they commit a felony of some kind. In practice, 
     they are free go home or disappear into American life, as 
     they wish.
       Many of them never leave. One estimate suggests that half 
     of the 7 million illegal aliens in this country didn't enter 
     illegally but simply overstayed their visas. And the 
     Immigration and Naturalization Service has no idea who they 
     are, where they could be or what they might be up to. 
     Officials say that 16 of the 19 hijacker-terrorists entered 
     the United States on temporary visas as students, workers or 
       U.S. borders aren't simply porous, said Mark Krikorian, 
     director of the Center for Immigration studies in Washington; 
     they are, to all intents and purposes, wide open. That is 
     crazy. An open border is an open invitation to terrorism.
       First, the painfully obvious. The INS should keep track of 
     all who visit the United States, where they are and when they 
     are required to leave. The act of not leaving should trigger 
     a reaction from INS enforcement officers--perhaps a letter of 
     inquiry, perhaps arrest, depending on the potential threat.
       Keeping track of visitors will take a computer system, a 
     reform mandated by Congress in 1996 but abandoned when border 
     states objected to the delays and loss of business. It will 
     mean time lost and, in all likelihood, traffic jams, 
     particularly at busy U.S.-Mexican and U.S.-Canadian borders. 
     But it is vital to check foreign visitors both in and out. 
     Not to do so invites what has happened.
       Protecting the United States may require that the embassy 
     and consulate staffs where visas are issued be better trained 
     or enlarged. They are the first line of defense against 
     attack, and they should act positively, checking backgrounds 
     and criminal records of would-be tourists, particularly if 
     the applicant is from a problematic country such as Iran.
       The changes needed might also involve modifications in the 
     visa waiver program, by which nationals in 29 friendly 
     countries such as Great Britain and Norway are admitted to 
     this country without the formality of a visa. At the very 
     least, these visitors, too, should be checked in and out via 
     computer. Because the criminal world so highly values stolen 
     or forged passports from waiver countries, more stringent 
     security provisions might be needed.
       Foreign visitors shouldn't look at increased scrutiny or 
     security as an accusation or violation of rights. They are, 
     after all, guests, here on sufferance and required to obey 
     the law. Few other countries have been as wide open as the 
     United States in the past, and even fewer are likely to be in 
     the future.
       U.S. law enforcement agencies should know who is entering 
     the country and where they are supposed to be. These 
     organizations can then judge potential risks and problems and 
     handle them as the law allows. When the INS keeps closer 
     track of visitors, it isn't intended to harass but to 
     identify, not to accuse but to protect. It's not xenophobia. 
     It's self-defense.
       And self-defense, within the context of freedom, has 
     suddenly become of vital importance.

              [From the Omaha World-Herald, Oct. 2, 2001]

                       Loosey-Goosey Borders: II

       As the United States moves to take control of its borders 
     and keep track of foreign nationals entering the country, it 
     is important to change the way student visas are handled, 
       About half a million foreign students enter the country 
     every year, some headed for colleges or universities, some 
     for vocational or language schools. The vast majority of them 
     actually attend school.
       Some, however, do not, and disappear into the population. 
     In that category was one Hani Hanjour, who was supposed to 
     study English at Holy Names College in Oakland, Calif. Ten 
     months after he skipped out on his student visa, he and 
     companions hijacked the jet that crashed into the Pentagon.
       Hard as it might be to understand, schools are not required 
     to notify the Immigration and Naturalization Service if 
     foreign students fail to appear or drop out. Five years ago, 
     Congress ordered the INS to begin tracking foreign visitors. 
     That was to include students starting in 2003. But in August, 
     a bill was introduced to end the system before it began.
       The system would have issued cards with magnetic strips to 
     students. The strips, containing personal information, would 
     have to be swiped through a reader when the student entered 
     the country and the cards would have to be shown to school 
     authorities when they arrived on campus.
       Then, campus officials would be required to report changes 
     of address and other information concerning international 
       More than a hundred schools spoke out against the INS plan, 
     as did NAFSA/Association of International Educators, a 
     lobbying group. Many university officials worried that any 
     identification system would discourage international 
       Perhaps it would, but it shouldn't. It is not unreasonable 
     and it should not be intimidating to require foreign students 
     not only to be what they claim--students--but to allow the 
     immigration service to keep track of their whereabouts.

[[Page E1792]]

       The education lobbying group has seen the light and changed 
     its position. Last month, after the attacks on New York City 
     and Washington, D.C., its spokesman said, ``The time for 
     debate on this matter is over, and the time to devise a 
     considered response to terrorism has arrived.''
       That is a commendable turn-around, one that college and 
     university leaders would do well to emulate. The idea is not 
     to punish foreign students or inconvenience their schools but 
     to protect Americans from terrorists who might enter the 
     country under false pretenses.
       The system needs to be put in place yesterday.




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