ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: October 3, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S10156-S10165]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
      By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mrs. Feinstein):
  S. 1489. A bill to provide for the sharing of information between 
Federal departments, agencies, and other entities with respect to 
aliens seeking admission to the United States, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on the Judiciary.
      By Ms. SNOWE:
  S. 1490. A bill to establish terrorist lookout committees in each 
United States Embassy; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
      By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mrs. Feinstein):
  S. 1491. A bill to provide for the establishment and implementation 
of a fingerprint processing system to be used whenever a visa is issued 
to an alien; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Ms. SNOWE. Madam President, I rise today to introduce three bills 
that will provide our first line of defense, our Consular Officers at 
our embassies and INS Inspectors at our ports-of-entry, with the 
resources and information they need to determine whether to grant a 
foreign national a visa or permit them entry to the United States. They 
are: The Terrorist Lookout Committee Act, the Visa Fingerprinting Act, 
and the Information Sharing to Strengthen America's Security Act.
  I saw firsthand the consequences of serious inadequacies in 
coordination and communication during my twelve years as ranking member 
of the House Foreign Affairs International Operations Subcommittee and 
chair of the International Operations Subcommittee of the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee. It was this lack of coordination that 
permitted the radical Egyptian Sheik Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 
World Trade Center bombing, to enter and exit the U.S. five times 
unimpeded even after he was put on the State Department's Lookout List 
in 1987, and allowed him to get permanent residence status by the INS 
even after the State Department issued a certification of visa 
  These bills are an essential step toward removing a vulnerability in 
our national security that has continued through the years. For 
example, the Inman report of 1984, which was commissioned by Secretary 
Shultz after three terrorist attacks against the U.S. Embassy and 
marines in Lebanon in 1983 and 1984, found that coordination between 
agencies must be improved. After the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in 
Kenya and Tanzania, the Accountability Review Board, a board which is 
required by law to make findings and recommendations upon the loss of 
life or property, made a recommendation that the FBI and State 
Department should improve their information sharing on terrorism. The 
2000 National Commission on Terrorism also recommended that the FBI 
should establish a cadre of reports officers to distill and disseminate 
terrorism-related information once it is collected.
  While intelligence is frequently exchanged, no law requires law 
enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information on dangerous 
aliens with the State Department. The information sharing that does 
occur among agencies is done on a voluntary basis. Accordingly, the 
first bill I am introducing, the Information Sharing to Strengthen 
America's Security Act, requires all U.S. law enforcement agencies and 
the intelligence community to share information on foreign nationals 
with the State Department so that visas can be granted with the 
assurance that the sum total of the U.S. government has no knowledge 
why an alien should not be granted a visa to travel to the U.S.
  This bill increases the information sharing among our law enforcement 
agencies, our intelligence community, and the State Department, so that 
foreign nationals who are known by any entity of the U.S. Government to 
be associated with, or members of, terrorist organizations are denied a 
visa. This includes the FBI, DEA, INS, Customs, CIA and the Defense 
Intelligence Agency, DIA, all vital agencies in the war on terrorism.
  The second bill I am introducing--the Terrorist Lookout Committee 
Act, builds on the Information Sharing to Strengthen America's Security 
Act by requiring a Terrorist Lookout Committee to be established in 
every one of our embassies. This committee, which would be chaired by 
the Deputy Chief of Mission, will be comprised of the senior 
representatives of all law enforcement agencies and the intelligence 
community. The purpose of the mandated monthly meeting is to provide a 
forum for these officials to add names to the State Department's 
Consular Lookout and Support System, CLASS, of those who are considered 
dangerous aliens and, if they applied for a visa, should undergo a 
thorough review and possible denial of the visa.
  If no names are submitted to the list then the chair is required to 
certify, subject to an Accountability Review Board, that no member had 
knowledge of any name that should be included. This requirement will 
elevate awareness of, and focus constant attention on, the necessity of 
maintaining the most accurate and current information possible. 
Finally, quarterly reports by the Secretary of State are to be 
submitted to the House International Relations Committee and the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee.
  To ensure that the foreign national who received the visa from our 
Embassy is the same person using it to enter the United States, I have 
introduced the Visa Fingerprinting Act. This bill requires the 
Secretary of State and the INS Commissioner to jointly establish and 
implement a fingerprint-backed check system. Foreign nationals would be 
fingerprinted before a visa could be issued, with information 
catalogued in a database accessible to Immigration officials. INS 
authorities at port-of-entry would then be required to match 
fingerprint data with that of the foreign nationals seeking entry into 
the U.S., with the INS certifying to the match before permitting entry. 
My bill authorizes a one-time congressional expenditure to establish 
and implement the system, but the cost of operating the system would be 
funded through an increase in the visa service charge required for each 
  The use of biometric technology such as fingerprint imaging, retinal 
and iris scans, and voice recognition, is no longer just a part of our 
science-fiction movies, but has become a widely used means of identity 
verification. The U.S. Government uses it at military and secret 
installations for access to both information and the installations 
themselves. Airports, such as Charlotte-Douglas International which 
utilizes iris scanning technology, have incorporated biometric 
technology to limit access to particular areas of the airport to 
authorized personnel only.
  Interestingly, the INS already started down this road when, in 1998, 
it began to issue biometric crossing cards to Mexicans who cross the 
border frequently. These cards have a digital fingerprint image which, 
upon crossing, is

[[Page S10159]]

matched to the fingerprint of the person possessing the card.
  The bottom line is, we must stop terrorists not only at their points 
of entry, but more critically, at their point of origin. In America's 
war on terrorism, we can do no less.