[Congressional Record: October 5, 2001 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
INTRODUCING THE VISA INFORMATION SECURITY ACT OF 2001
HON. GENE GREEN
in the house of representatives
Friday, October 5, 2001
Mr. GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Visa
Information Security Act of 2001 (VISA Act)--legislation that increase
the security of the American people by closing some of the loopholes
within our visa applicatiot system. This legislation requires that all
non-immigrant visa applicants submit a biometric fingerprint as of the
routine visa application process.
Specifically, it would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to
require that non-immigrant visa applicants provide a biometric
identifier, such as a fingerprint, that is machine readable, to be
contained the visa or other documentation required for admission at
their port of entry into the United States.
The recent terrorist attacks have highlighted the need to review the
visa application process and we call improve the screening process used
by U.S. Consular offices abroad. Usually, visa applicant names are
checked against the State Department database for admissibility.
However, some individuals use false information from their country of
origin when they apply for a visa or use stolen visas to enter the U.S.
As the Washington Post reported today, in the last few years, one
country lost approximately 60,000 visas.
While it is impossible to screen every single individual who enters
our country, with advanced technology and better coordination with the
intelligence community we can better secure our nations border.
However, in order to effectively authenticate individuals, we need a
method based on inherent characteristics of a person that cannot be
lost, changed or duplicated. Through biometric fingerprints, we would
have an accurate and clear idea of who is entering our country.
This process is quick and efficient and can be run through our
national criminal database to see if the applicant should or should not
be allowed into the country. Additionally, when the individual enters
the country through the port of entry, his fingerprints will be scanned
to verif, authenticity. Adding this technology requirement would not
add significant time to the visa application process. But it would
certainly prevent known terrorists and criminals from entering the
country, while at the same time decrease fraudulent visa requests.
In addition, this legislation authorizes the Attorney General to
impose a new fee on all visa applicants to cover the costs of
implementing this important program. I want to note that my legislation
will not apply to NAFTA participating countries and actually allows the
Attorney General maximum discretion to decide what methods to utilize
for those types of border crossings.
Mr. Speaker, we need to collect more information about the
individuals trying to enter this country, but we must do it in a way
that does not overburden our consular offices and still allows for
visitors to enter the United States. My legislation is an economical
first step in increasing our national security and I intend to work
tirelessly for its passage.
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