[Congressional Record: November 1, 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, Ms. Cantwell, Ms.
Collins, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Hagel, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Ensign):
S. 1618. A bill to enhance the border security of the United States,
and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is a privilege to join Senators
Brownback, Cantwell, Collins, Edwards, Hagel, Reid, and Ensign in
introducing legislation to strengthen the security of our borders and
enhance our ability to deter potential terrorists. There is an urgent
need to improve intelligence and technology capabilities, enhance the
ability to screen individuals before they arrive at our borders, and
improve the monitoring of foreign nationals already within the United
In strengthening the security of our borders, we must also safeguard
the unobstructed entry of the more than 31 million persons who enter
the U.S. legally each year as visitors, students, and temporary
workers. Many of them cross the Canadian and Mexican borders to conduct
daily business or visit close family members.
We must also live up to our history and heritage as a Nation of
immigrants. Immigration is essential to who we are as Americans.
Continued immigration is part of our national well-being, our identity
as a Nation, and our strength in today's world. In defending the
Nation, we are also defending the fundamental constitutional principles
that have made America strong in the past and will make us even
stronger in the future.
Our action must strike a careful balance between protecting civil
liberties and providing the means for law enforcement to identify,
apprehend and detain potential terrorist. It makes no sense to enact
reforms that severely limit immigration into the United States.
``Fortress America,'' even if it could be achieved, is an inadequate
and ineffective response to the terrorist threat.
A major goal of this legislation is to improve coordination and
information-sharing by the Department of State, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, and law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
It will require the Department of State and the INS to work with the
Office of Homeland Security and the recently formed Foreign Terrorist
Tracking Task Force to submit and implement a plan to improve their
access to critical security information. It will give those responsible
for screening visa applicants and persons entering the U.S. the tools
they need to make informed decisions.
We must provide enforcement personnel at our ports of entry with
greater resources and technology. These men and women are a primary
defense in the battle against terrorism. This legislation will see that
they receive adequate pay, can hire necessary support staff, and are
well-trained to identify individuals who pose a security threat.
The anti-terrorism bill recently passed by the Senate addressed the
need for machine-readable passports, but it did not focus on machine-
readable visas, a necessary part of our efforts to improve border
security. This legislation allows the Department of State to raise fees
through the use of machine-readable visas and use the funds collected
from those fees to improve technology at our ports of entry.
We must do more to improve our ability to screen individuals along
our entire North American perimeter. This legislation directs the
Department of State and the INS to work with the Office of Homeland
Security and the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force to strengthen
our ability to screen individuals at the Perimeter before they reach
our continent. We can work with Canada and Mexico to coordinate these
We must also strengthen our ability to monitor foreign nationals in
the United States. In 1996, Congress enacted legislation mandating the
development of an automated entry/exit control system to record the
entry of every non-citizen arriving in the U.S., and to match it with
the record of departure. Although technology is currently available for
such a system, it has not been implemented because of the high costs
involved. Our legislation builds on the anti-terrorism bill and
provides greater direction to the INS for implementing the entry/exit
We must improve the ability of foreign service officers to detect and
intercept potential terrorists before they arrive in the U.S. Most
foreign nationals who travel here must apply for visas at American
consulates overseas. Traditionally, consular officers have focused on
interviewing applicants to determine whether they are likely to violate
their visa status. Although this review is important, consular officers
must also be trained specifically to screen for security threats.
We must require all airlines to electronically transmit passenger
lists to destination airports in the United States, so that once the
planes have landed, law enforcement authorities can intercept
passengers who are on federal lookout lists. United States airlines
already do this, but some foreign airlines do not. Our legislation
requires all airlines to transmit passenger manifest information prior
to the arrival of flight in the U.S.
In 1996, Congress established a program to collect information on
non-immigrant foreign students and participants in exchange programs.
Although a pilot phase of this program ended in 1999, a permanent
system has not yet been implemented. Congress passed provisions in the
anti-terrorism bill for the quick and effective implementation of this
system by 2003, but gaps still exist. This legislation will increase
the data collected by the monitoring to include the date of entry, the
port of entry, the date of school enrollment, and the date the student
leaves the school. It requires the Department of State and INS to
monitor students who have been given visas, and to notify schools of
their entry. It also requires a school to notify the INS if a student
does not actually report to the school. If institutions fail to comply
with these and other requirements, they should lose their ability to
admit foreign students.
INS regulations provide for regular reviews of over 26,000
educational institutions that are authorized to enroll foreign
students. However, inspections have been sporadic in recent years. This
legislation will require INS to monitor institutions on a regular
As we work to implement stronger tracking systems, we must also
remember that the vast majority of foreign visitors, students, and
workers who overstay their visas are not criminals or terrorists. It
would be wrong and unfair, without additional information, to
This legislation will also help restrict visas to foreign nationals
from countries that the Department of State has determined are sponsors
of terrorism. It precludes visas to individuals from countries that
sponsor terrorism, unless specific steps are taken to ensure the person
is not a security threat.
We must be able to retain highly skilled immigration inspectors. Our
legislation will provide incentives to immigration inspectors by
them with the same benefits as other law enforcement personnel.
We must fully implement the use of biometric border crossing cards
and allow sufficient time for individuals to obtain these cards. Many
of these cards are already in use, but INS does not have the necessary
equipment to read the cards. This legislation appropriates needed funds
to enable the INS to purchase the machines, and it extends the deadline
for individuals crossing the border to acquire the cards.
When planes land at our airports, inspectors are under significant
time constraints to clear the planes and ensure the safety of all
departing passengers. Our legislation removes the existing 45 minute
deadline, providing inspectors with adequate time to clear and secure
The Senate took significant steps last week to improve immigration
security by passing the anti-terrorism bill, but further action is
needed. This legislation will strengthen the security of our borders
and enhance our ability to prevent future terrorist attacks, while also
reaffirming our tradition as a Nation of immigrants. I strongly urge my
colleagues to support it.
Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, the terrorist attacks of September 11th
have unsettled the public's confidence in our Nation's security and
have raised concerns about whether our institutions are up to the task
of intercepting and thwarting would-be terrorists. Given that the
persons responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon came from abroad, our citizens understandably ask how these
people entered the United States and what can be done to prevent their
kind from doing so again. Clearly, our immigration laws and policies
are instrumental to the war on terrorism. While the battle may be waged
on several fronts, for the man or woman on the street, immigration is
in many ways the front line of our defense.
The immigration provisions in the anti-terrorist bill passed by this
body last week, the USA Patriot Act of 2001, represent an excellent
first step toward improving our border security, but we must not stop
there. Our Nation receives millions of visitors each year, foreign
nationals who come to the United States to visit family, to do
business, to tour our sites, to study and learn. Most of these people
enter lawfully and mean well; they are good for our economy and are
potential ambassadors of good will to their home countries. However,
there is a small minority who intend us harm, and we must take
intelligent measures to keep these people out.
For that reason, I am pleased to introduce today, along with my
colleagues Senator Kennedy, Senator Collins, Senator Cantwell, Senator
Hagel, Senator Edwards, Senator Ensign, and Senator Reid, legislation
that looks specifically toward strengthening our borders and better
equipping the agencies that protect them. The Enhanced Border Security
Act of 2001 represents an earnest, thoughtful, and bipartisan effort to
refine our immigration laws and institutions to better combat the evil
that threatens our Nation.
The legislation recognizes that the war on terrorism is, in large
part, a war of information. To be successful, we must improve our
ability to collect, compile, and utilize information critical to our
safety and national security. This bill provides that the agencies
tasked with screening visa applicants and applicants for admission,
namely the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization
Service, must be provided with law enforcement and intelligence
information that will enable these agencies to identify alien
terrorists. By directing better coordination and access, this
legislation will bring together the agencies that have the information
and those that need it. With input from the Office of Homeland Security
and the President's Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, this bill
will make prompt and effective information-sharing between these
agencies a reality.
In complement to last week's anti-terrorist act, this legislation
provides for necessary improvements in the technologies used by the
State Department and the Service. It provides funding for the State
Department to better interface with foreign intelligence information
and to better staff its infrastructure. It also provides the Service
with guidance on the implementation of the Integrated Entry and Exit
Data System, pointing the Service to such tools as biometric
identifiers in immigration documents, machine readable visas and
passports, and arrival-departure and security databases. In fact, this
legislation expressly enables the Service to take immediate advantage
of biometric technology by authorizing the funding to purchase
equipment for reading border-crossing cards that are already available
To the degree that we can reasonably and realistically do so, we
should attempt to intercept terrorists before they reach our borders.
Accordingly, we must consider security measures not only at domestic
ports of entry but also at foreign ports of departure. To that end,
this legislation directs the State Department and the Service, in
consultation with Office of Homeland Security, to examine, expand, and
enhance screening procedures to take place outside the United States,
as preinspection and preclearance. It also requires international air
carriers to transmit, in advance of their arrival, passenger manifests
for review by the Service. Further, it eliminates the 45-minute
statutory limit on airport inspections, which many feel compromises the
Service's ability to screen arriving flights properly. Finally, since
we should ultimately look to expand our security perimeter to include
Canada and Mexico, this bill requires these agencies to work with our
neighbors to create a collaborative North American Security Perimeter.
While this legislation mandates certain technological improvements,
it does not ignore the human element in the security equation. It
provides special training to border patrol agents, inspectors, and
foreign service officers to better identify terrorists and security
threats to the United States. Moreover, to help the Service retain its
most experienced people on the borders, this bill provides the Service
with increased flexibility in pay, certain benefit incentives, and the
ability to hire necessary support staff.
Finally, this legislation considers certain classes of aliens that
raise security concerns for our country: nationals from states that
sponsor terrorism and foreign students. With respect to the former,
this bill expressly prohibits the State Department from issuing a
nonimmigrant visa to any alien from a country that sponsors terrorism
until it has been determined that the alien does not pose a threat to
the safety or national security of the United States. With respect to
the latter, this legislation would fill data and reporting gaps in our
foreign student programs by requiring the Service to electronically
monitor the student at every stage in the student visa process. It
would also require the educational institution to report a foreign
student's failure to enroll and the Service to monitor schools'
compliance with this reporting requirement.
While we must be careful not to compromise our values or our economy,
we must take intelligent, immediate steps to enhance the security of
our borders. This legislation, consonant with both the USA Patriot Act
and President Bush's recent directive on immigration, would implement
many changes that are vital to our war on terrorism. I therefore urge
my colleagues to support it.
Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President I rise today for two purposes. First, I
commend my colleague, Senator Kennedy, for his tireless work on
immigration issues and to offer my support for a bill he and Senator
Brownback are introducing today, the Enhanced Border Security Act of
2001. Also, I want to discuss legislation I will be introducing that
builds upon the visa technology standards provisions of the USA Patriot
Act of 2001 and fits within the construct of what Senators Kennedy and
Brownback seek to accomplish. Several of the provisions I have proposed
have already been incorporated by Senators Kennedy and Brownback, and I
will continue to work with them and my other colleagues to move other
provisions of my bill.
As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have been honored to work
closely with Senator Kennedy to find ways to better protect our borders
and provide necessary support to the men
and women who work for the State Department, the Immigration and
Naturalization Service and the U.S. Customs Agency.
I, along with many of my colleagues, am currently pressing for
funding to triple the number of Immigration and Naturalization Service
and U.S. personnel on our northern border and improve border
technology, the authorization for which was included in the USA Patriot
Act. In the past, a severe lack of resources at our northern border has
compromised the ability of border control officials to execute their
duties. I am pleased that Congress made the tripling of these resources
a priority for national security, and I will continue to fight for full
funding of this measure. Senators Kennedy and Brownback have also
addressed these needs by improving INS pay standards, providing
additional training for Border Patrol and Customs agents, and
increasing information technology funding.
Let me commend Senators Kennedy and Brownback on the bill they are
introducing today. It reflects a thoughtful response to the current
situation at our borders, and I am pleased to be an original cosponsor.
I am aware that others have proposals to address border issues as well,
and I look forward to working with them.
The Enhanced Border Security Act of 2001 addresses several critical
issues. In hearings in recent weeks before the Immigration Subcommittee
and the Technology and, Terrorism Subcommittee, we heard repeated calls
for better sharing of law enforcement and intelligence information as
it relates to admitting aliens into the United States. The bill
addresses this problem by mandating INS and Department of State access
to relevant FBI information within one year. I am pleased that the
authors of this bill have included provisions to protect the privacy
and security of this information, and require limitations on the use
and repeated dissemination of the information.
Sharing U.S. law enforcement and intelligence information with the
State Department and INS is important, but it is also critical to build
upon our relationships with Canada and Mexico. We share a mutual
interest in protecting our respective borders. The U.S., Canada and
Mexico must also improve the sharing of information by our law
enforcement and intelligence communities. We need to develop a
perimeter national security program with our partners to our north and
south, and the Enhanced Border Security Act does just that.
The Enhanced Border Security Act requires airlines to provide
passenger manifests to the INS and Customs in advance of a flight's
arrival. This will be one more source of data, that will help INS
screen for those who should not be allowed to enter. It also tightens
controls on student visas, and restricts the issuance of visas to
aliens who are citizens of countries that sponsor terrorism. This is a
thoughtful bill and I urge my colleagues' support.
Last week with the enactment of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, the
Federal Government committed to developing a visa technology standard
that would facilitate the sharing of information related to the
admissibility of aliens into the United States. I proposed this
language recognizing that for many years, the U.S. law enforcement and
intelligence communities have maintained numerous, but separate, non-
interoperable databases. These databases are not easily or readily
accessible to front-line Federal agents responsible for making the
critical decisions of whether to issue a visa or to admit an alien into
the United States.
To build on and fulfill the goals of establishing this standard, my
bill will do three things. First, it will require technology be
implemented to track the initial entry and exit of aliens traveling on
a U.S. visa. We know now that several of the terrorists who attacked
America on September 11 were traveling on expired visas. We have had
the law in place for several years now, but due to concerns about
maintaining the flow of trade and tourism across our borders, concerns
I share, the provisions of Section 110 have not been fully implemented.
Technology will address those concerns, allowing electronic recordation
and verification of entry and exit data in an instant.
Second, I believe it is necessary to require the Departments of State
and Justice to work with the Office of Homeland Security to build a
cohesive electronic data sharing system. The system must incorporate
interoperability and compatibility within and between the databases of
the various agencies that maintain information relevant to determining
whether a visa should be issued or whether an alien should be admitted
into the United States. My legislation will require interoperable real-
time sharing of law enforcement and intelligence information relevant
to the issuance of a visa or an alien's admissibility to the U.S. The
provision will require that information is made available, although
with the appropriate safeguards for privacy and the protection of
intelligence sources, to the front line government agents making the
decisions to issue visas or to admit visa holding aliens to the United
States. I am pleased that Senators Kennedy and Brownback have adopted
these provisions into their legislation.
Finally, building on the provisions of the Kennedy-Brownback bill for
a Perimeter National Security Program, and on the technology standard
required under the USA Patriot Act, my legislation will require the
Department of State and the Attorney General to study and report to
Congress within 90 days on how best to facilitate sharing of
information that may be relevant to determining whether to issue a U.S.
visa. Our borders are only as secure as the borders of those countries
with whom we have agreements that visas are not required. We need to
build on our relationships with these international partners to secure
our respective borders through better information sharing.
Keeping terrorists out of the U.S. in the first place will reduce the
risks of terrorism within the U.S. in the future. Aliens known to be
affiliated with terrorists have been admitted to the U.S. on valid
visas simply because one agency in government did not share important
information with another department in a timely fashion. We must make
sure that this does not happen again.
Until now, we had hoped that agencies would voluntarily share this
information on a real-time and regular basis. This has not happened,
and although I know that the events of September 11 have led to serious
rethinking of our information-sharing processes and procedures, I think
it is time to mandate the sharing of fundamental information.
Advancements in technology have provided us with additional tools to
verify the identify of individuals entering our country without
impairing the flow of legitimate trade, tourism, workers and students.
It is time we put these tools to use.
Improving our national security is vitally important, but I will not
support measures that compromise America's civil liberties. Both the
bill being introduced today and the bill I will be introducing include
several safeguards to protect individuals' rights to privacy. The bills
provide that where databases are created or shared, there must be
protection of privacy and adequate security measures in place,
limitations on the use and re-dissemination of information, and
mechanisms for removing obsolete or erroneous information. Even in
times of urgent action, we must protect the freedoms that make our
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