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

[Congressional Record: November 30, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S12247-S12263]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr30no01-105]                         
 
          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

      By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. Brownback, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. 
        Kyl, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Hatch, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Helms, Mr. Durbin, 
        Mr. Thurmond, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Bond, Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sessions, 
        Mr. DeWine, and Mrs. Hutchison):
  S. 1749. 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, I am honored to join Senator Brownback, 
Senator Feinstein, Senator Kyl, Senator Leahy, Senator Hatch, and other 
colleagues in introducing legislation to strengthen the security of our 
borders,

[[Page S12248]]

improve our ability to screen foreign nationals, and enhance our 
ability to deter potential terrorists. Senator Brownback and I have 
worked closely with Senator Feinstein and Senator Kyl over the last 
month to develop a broad and effective response to the national 
security challenges we face. The need is urgent to improve our 
intelligence and technology capabilities, strengthen training programs 
for border officials and foreign service officers, and improve the 
monitoring of foreign nationals already in the United States.
  In strengthening security at 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 others cross our borders from Canada and Mexico to conduct daily 
business or visit close family members.
  We also must live up to our history and heritage as a nation of 
immigrants. Continued immigration is part of our national well-being, 
our identity as a Nation, and our strength in today's world. In 
defending America, 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 terrorists. 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.
  Enforcement personnel at our ports of entry are a key part of the 
battle against terrorism, and we must provide them with greater 
resources, training, and technology. These men and women have a 
significant role in the battle against terrorism. This legislation will 
ensure that they receive adequate pay, can hire necessary personnel, 
are well-trained to identify individuals who pose a security threat, 
have access to important intelligence information, and have the 
technologies they need to enhance border security and facilitate cross-
border commerce.
  The Immigration and Naturalization Service must be able to retain 
highly skilled immigration inspectors. Our legislation provides 
incentives to immigration inspectors by providing them with the same 
benefits as other law enforcement personnel.
  Expanding the use of biometric technology is critical to securing our 
borders. This legislation authorizes the funding needed to bring our 
ports of entry into the biometric age and equip them with biometric 
data readers and scanners.
  We must expand the use of biometric border crossing cards. The time 
frame previously allowed for individuals to obtain these cards was not 
sufficient. This legislation extends the deadline for individuals 
crossing the border to acquire the biometric cards.
  The USA Patriot Act addressed the need for machine-readable 
passports, but it did not focus on the need for machine-readable visas 
issued by the United States. This legislation enables the Department of 
State to raise fees through the use of machine-readable visas and use 
the funds collected from these fees to improve technology at our ports 
of entry.
  Our efforts to improve border security must also include enhanced 
coordination and information-sharing by the Department of State, the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service, and law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies. This legislation will require the President to 
submit and implement a plan to improve access to critical security 
information. It will create an electronic data system to give those 
responsible for screening visa applicants and persons entering the U.S. 
the tools they need to make informed decisions. It also provides for a 
temporary system until the President's plan is fully implemented.
  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 the technology is currently available 
for such a system, it has not been put in place 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 
system.
  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 concentrated 
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.
  Terrorist lookout committees will be established in every U.S. 
consular mission abroad in order to focus the attention of our consular 
officers on specific threats and provide essential critical national 
security information to those responsible for issuing visas and 
updating the lookout database.
  This legislation will help restrict visas to foreign nationals from 
countries that the Department of State has determined are sponsors of 
terrorism. It prohibits issuing visas to individuals from countries 
that sponsor terrorism, unless the Secretary of State has determined 
that the person is not a security threat.
  The current Visa Waiver Program, which allows individuals from 
participating countries to enter the U.S. for a limited period without 
visas, strengthens relations between the United States and those 
countries, and encourages economic growth around the world. Given it's 
importance, we must safeguard its continued use, while also ensuring 
that a country's designation as a participant in the program does not 
undermine U.S. law enforcement and security. This legislation will only 
allow a country to be designated as a visa waiver participant, or 
continue to be designated, if the Attorney General and Secretary of 
State determine that the country reports instances of passport theft to 
the U.S. government in a timely manner.
  We must do more to improve our ability to screen individuals along 
our entire North American perimeter. This legislation directs the 
Department of State, the Department of Transportation, the Department 
of Justice and the INS to work with the Office of Homeland Security to 
screen individuals at the perimeter before they reach our continent, 
and to work with Canada and Mexico to coordinate these efforts.
  We must require all airlines to electronically transmit passenger 
lists to destination airports in the United States, so that once 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 
and all other vessels to transmit passenger manifest information prior 
to their arrival in the United States.
  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, and provides inspectors with adequate time to clear and 
secure aircraft.
  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 enacted provisions in the 
recent 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 program 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.
  INS regulations provide for regular reviews of over 26,000 
educational institutions authorized to enroll foreign students. 
However, inspections have

[[Page S12249]]

been sporadic in recent years. This legislation will require INS to 
monitor institutions on a regular basis. If institutions fail to comply 
with these and other requirements, they can lose their ability to admit 
foreign students. In addition, this legislation provides for an interim 
system until the program established by the 1996 law is implemented.
  As we work to achieve 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 
stigmatize them.
  The USA Patriot Act was an important part of the effort to improve 
immigration security, but further action is needed. This legislation is 
a needed bipartisan effort to 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 urge my 
colleagues to support it.
  Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, the terrorist attacks of September 11 
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 earlier 
this month, 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 foreign nationals each year, persons 
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 us well. They are our relatives, our friends, and our business 
partners. They are good for our economy and, as witnesses to our 
democracy and our way of life, become our ambassadors of good will to 
their home countries.
  However, the unfortunate reality is that a fraction of these people 
mean 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 Kyl, Senator Feinstein, 
Senator Hatch, Senator Leahy, and others, legislation that looks 
specifically toward strengthening our borders and better equipping the 
agencies that protect them. The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry 
Reform 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.
  This 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 requires that the agencies 
tasked with screening visa applicants and applicants for admission, 
namely the Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization 
Service, be provided with the necessary 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, this bill will make prompt and effective information-sharing 
between these agencies a reality.
  In complement to the USA PATRIOT 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.
  To the degree that we can 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, such as 
preinspection and preclearance. It also requires international air 
carriers to transmit passenger manifests for pre-arrival 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. This 
bill requires that ``terrorist lookout committees'' be instituted at 
each consular post and that consular officers be given special training 
for identifying would-be terrorists. It also provides special training 
to border patrol agents, inspectors, and foreign service officers to 
better identify terrorists and security threats to the Unites 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 every stage in the student visa process. It would also require 
the school 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 would implement many changes that are 
vital to our war on terrorism. I therefore urge my colleagues to 
support it.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join Senators Kennedy, 
Brownback, and Kyl in introducing the Enhanced Border Security and Visa 
Entry Reform Act of 2001. We submit this legislation with 16 sponsors.
  This legislation represents a consensus, drawing upon the strengths 
of both the Visa entry Reform Act of 2001, which I introduced with my 
colleague from Arizona, Senator Kyl, and the Enhanced border Security 
Act of 2001, which Senators Kennedy and Brownback introduced.
  I believe the legislation we are introducing today will garner 
widespread support from our colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
  September 11 clearly pointed out the shortcomings of the immigration 
and visa system. For example: All 19 terrorist hijackers entered the 
U.S. legally with valid visas. Three of the hijackers had remained in 
the U.S. after their visas had expired. One entered on a foreign 
student visa. Another, Mohammed Atta had filed an application to change 
status to M-1, which was granted in July. However, Mr. Atta sought 
admission and was admitted to the United States based on his then 
current B-1 visitor visa.
  Most people don't realize how many people come into our country; how 
little we know about them; and whether they leave when required.

[[Page S12250]]

  Consider the following: The Visa Waiver Program: 23 million people 
from 29 different countries; no visas; little scrutiny; no knowledge 
where they go in the U.S. or whether they leave once their visas 
expire. The INS estimates that over 100,000 blank passports have been 
stolen from government offices in participating countries in recent 
years.
  Abuse of the VISA Waiver Program poses threats to U.S. national 
security and increases illegal immigration. For example, one of the co-
conspirators in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 deliberately 
chose to use a fraudulent Swedish passport to attempt entry into the 
U.S. because of Sweden's participation in the Visa Waiver Program.
  Foreign Student Visa Program: more than 500,000 foreign nationals 
entering each year; within the last 10 years, 16,000 came from such 
terrorist supporting states as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Syria.
  The foreign student visa system is one of the most under-regulated 
systems we have today. We've seen bribes, bureaucracy, and other 
problems with this system that leave it wide open to abuse by 
terrorists and other criminals.
  For example, in the early 1990s, five officials at four California 
colleges, were convicted of taking bribes, providing counterfeit 
education documents, and fraudulently applying for more than 100 
foreign student visas.
  It is unclear what steps the INS took to find and deport the foreign 
nationals involved in this scheme.
  Each year, we have 300 million border crossings. For the most part, 
these individuals are legitimate visitors to our country. We currently 
have no way of tracking all of these visitors.
  Mohamed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the attack, was admitted as 
a non-immigrant visitor in July 2001. He traveled freely to and from 
the U.S. during the past 2 years and was, according to the INS, in 
``legal status'' the day of the attack. Other hijackers also traveled 
with ease throughout the country.
  It has become all too clear that without an adequate tracking system, 
our country becomes a sieve, creating ample opportunities for 
terrorists to enter and establish their operations without detection.
  I sit as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on 
Technology, Terrorism and Government Information. Last month, we held a 
hearing on the need for new technologies to assist our government 
agencies in keeping terrorists out of the United States.
  The testimony at that hearing was very illuminating. We were given a 
picture of an immigration system in chaos, and a border control system 
rife with vulnerabilities. Agency officials don't communicate with each 
other. Computers are incompatible. And even in instances here 
technological leaps have been made, like the issuance of more than 4.5 
million ``smart'' border crossing cards with biometric data, the 
technology is not even used.
  Personally, I am astonished that a person can apply for a visa and 
granted a visa by the State Department, and that there is no mechanism 
by which the FBI or CIA can raise a red flag with regard to the 
individual if he or she is known to have links to terrorist groups or 
otherwise pose a threat to national security.
  In the wake of September 11, it is unconscionable that a terrorist 
might be permitted to enter the U.S. simply because our government 
agencies don't share information.
  Indeed, what we have discovered in the aftermath of the September 11 
terrorist attacks was that the perpetrators of these attacks had a 
certain confidence that our immigration laws could be circumvented 
where necessary.
  The terrorists did not have to steal into the country as stowaways on 
sea vessels, or a border-jumpers evading federal authorities. Most, if 
not all, appeared to have come in with temporary visas, which are 
routinely granted to tourists, students, and other short-term visitors 
to the U.S.
  Let me talk about the legislation that I cosponsored with Senators 
Kennedy, Brownback, and Kyl.
  First, a key component of this solution is the creation of an 
interoperable data system that allows the Department of State, the INS, 
and other relevant Federal agencies to obtain critical information 
about foreign nationals who seek entry into or who have entered the 
United States.
  Right now, our government agencies use different systems, with 
different information, in different formats. And they often refuse to 
share that information with other agencies within our own government. 
This is not acceptable.
  When a terrorist presents himself at a consular office asking for a 
visa, or at a border crossing with a passport, we need to make sure 
that his name and identifying information is checked against an 
accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive database. Period.
  The Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act would require 
the creation of this interoperable data system, and will require the 
cooperation of all U.S. government agencies in providing accurate and 
compatible information to that system.
  In addition, the interoperable data system would include 
sophisticated, linguistically-based, name-matching algorithms so that 
the computers can recognize that ``Muhamad Usam Abdel Raqeeb'' and 
``Haj Mohd Othman Abdul Rajeeb,'' are transliterations of the same 
name. In other words, this provision would require agencies to ensure 
that names can be matched even when they are stored in different sets 
of fields in different databases.
  Incidentally, this legislation also contains strict privacy 
provisions, limiting access to this database to authorized Federal 
officials. And the bill contains severe penalties for wrongful access 
or misuse of information contained in the database.
  Second, this legislation includes concrete steps to restore integrity 
to the immigration and visa process. including the following: The 
legislation would require all foreign nationals to be fingerprinted 
and, when appropriate, submit other biometric data, to the State 
Department when applying for visa. This provision should help eliminate 
fraud, as well as identify potential threats to the country before they 
gain access.
  We include reforms of the visa waiver program, so that any country 
wishing to participate in that program must begin to provide its 
citizens with tamper-proof, machine-readable passports. The passports 
must contain biometric data by October 26, 2003, to help verify 
identity at U.S. ports of entry.
  Prior to admitting a foreign visitor from a visa waiver country, the 
INS inspector must first determine that the individual does not appear 
in any ``lookout'' databases.
  In addition, the INS would be required to enter stolen passport 
numbers in the interoperable data system within 72 hours after 
receiving notification of the loss or theft of a passport.
  We would establish a robust biometric visa program. By October 26, 
2003, newly issued visas must contain biometric data and other 
identifying information, like more than 4 million already do on the 
Southwest border, and, just as importantly, our own officials at the 
border and other ports of entry must have the equipment necessary to 
read the new biometric cards.
  We worked closely with the university community in crafting new, 
strict requirements for the student visa program to crack down on 
fraud, make sure that students really are attending classes, and give 
the government the ability to track any foreign national who arrives on 
a student visa but fails to enroll in school.
  The legislation prohibits the issuance of a student visa to any 
citizen of a country identified by the State Department as a terrorist-
supporting nation. There is a waiver provision to this prohibition, 
however, allowing the State Department to allow students even from 
these countries in special cases.
  We require that airlines and cruiseliners provide passenger and crew 
manifests to immigration officials before arrival, so that any 
potential terrorists or other wrongdoers can be singled out before they 
arrive in this country and disappear among the general populace.
  The bill contains a number of other related provisions as well, but 
the gist of the legislation is this: Where we can provide law 
enforcement more information about potentially dangerous foreign 
nationals, we do so. Where we can reform our border-crossing system to 
weed out or deter terrorists or others

[[Page S12251]]

who would do us harm, we do so. And where we can update technology to 
meet the demands of the modern war against terror, we do that as well.
  As we prepare to modify our immigration system, we must be sure to 
enact changes that are realistic and feasible. We must also provide the 
necessary tools to implement them.
  Our Nation will be no more secure tomorrow if we create new top-of-
the line databases and do not see to it that government agencies use 
them to share and receive critical information.
  We will be no safer tomorrow if we do not create a workable entry-
exit tracking system to ensure that terrorists do not enter the U.S. 
and blend into our communities without detection.
  And we will be no safer if we simply authorize new programs and 
information sharing, but do not provide the resources necessary to put 
the new technology at the border, train agents appropriately, and 
require our various government agencies to cooperate in this effort.
  We have a lot to do but I am confident that we will move swiftly to 
address these important issues. The legislation Senators Kennedy, 
Brownback, Kyl, and I introduce today is an important, and strong, 
first step. But this is only the beginning of a long, difficult 
process.
  In closing, I would like to respond to concerns that this bill is 
``anti-immigrant.'' We are a nation of immigrants. Indeed, the 
overwhelming percentage of the people who come to live in this country 
do so to enjoy the blessings of liberty, equality, and opportunity. The 
overwhelming percentage of the people who visa this country mean us no 
harm.
  But there are several thousand innocent people, including foreign 
nationals, who were killed on September 11 in part because a network of 
fanatics determined to wreak death, destruction, and terror exploited 
weaknesses in our immigration system to come here, to stay here, to 
study here, and to kill here.
  We learned at Oklahoma City that not all terrorists are foreign 
nationals. But the world is a dangerous place, and there are peopled 
and regimes that would destroy us if they had the chance.
  We are all casualties of September 11. Our society has necessarily 
changed as our perception of the threats we face has changed. The 
scales have fallen from our eyes.
  It is unfortunate that we need to address the vulnerabilities in our 
immigration system that September 11 painfully revealed. The changes we 
need to make in that system will inconvenience people. We can ``thank'' 
the terrorists for that.
  Once implemented, however, those changes will make it easier for law-
abiding foreign to visit or study here, and for law-abiding immigrants 
who want to live here. More important, once they are here, their 
safety, and ours, will be greatly enhanced.
  We must do everything we can to deter the terrorists, here and 
abroad, who would do us harm from Oklahoma City to downtown Manhattan, 
we have learned just how high the stakes are. It would dishonor the 
innocent victims of September 11 and the brave men and women of our 
armed forces who are defending our liberty at this very instant, if we 
flag or fail in this effort.
  I urge my colleagues to support us on this legislation.
  Mr. KYL. Mr. President, today, Senators Kennedy, Brownback, Feinstein 
and I join together to introduce the Enhanced Border Security and Visa 
Entry Reform Act of 2001. This bill represents the merging of counter-
terrorism legislation recently introduced by Senator Feinstein and I 
and separately by Senators Kennedy and Brownback. This bipartisan, 
streamlined product, cosponsored by both the chairman and ranking 
Republican of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will significantly 
enhance our ability to keep terrorists out of the United States and 
find terrorists who are here. I also want to reiterate my appreciation 
to Senators Kennedy, Feinstein, and Brownback, and especially to their 
staffmembers, for their hard work and cooperation in developing this 
bill. I am hopeful that we can work together toward the bill's passage, 
and signature into law, before the 107th Congress adjourns for the 
year.
  Last month the President signed into law anti-terrorism legislation 
that will provide many of the tools necessary to keep terrorists out of 
the United States, and to detain those terrorists who have entered our 
country. These tools, while all important, will be significantly 
enhanced by the bill we introduce today.
  Under the Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2001, the 
Homeland Defense director will be responsible for the coordination of 
Federal law enforcement and intelligence communities, the Departments 
of Transportation, State, Treasury, and all other relevant agencies to 
develop and implement a comprehensive, interoperable electronic data 
system for these governmental agencies to find and keep out terrorists. 
That system will be up and running by October 26, 2003, 2 years after 
the signing into law of the USA Patriot Act.
  Under our bill, terrorists will be deprived of the ability to present 
fake or altered international documents in order to gain entrance, or 
stay here. Foreign nationals will be provided with new travel 
documents, using new technology that will include a person's 
fingerprint(s) or other form of ``biometric'' identification. These 
cards will be used by visitors upon exit and entry into the United 
States, and will alert authorities immediately if a visa has expired or 
a red flag is raised by a federal agency. Under our bill, any foreign 
passport or other travel document issued after October 26, 2003 will 
have to contain a biometric component. The deadline for providing for a 
way to compare biometric information presented at the border is also 
October 26, 2003.
  Another provision of the bill will further strengthen the ability of 
the U.S. Government to prevent terrorists from using our ``Visa Waiver 
Program'' to enter the country. Under our bill, the 29 participating 
Visa Waiver nations will, in addition to the USA Patriot Act Visa 
Waiver reforms, be required to report stolen passport numbers to the 
State Department; otherwise, a nation is prohibited from participating 
in the program. In addition, our bill clarifies that the Attorney 
General must enter stolen passport numbers into the interoperable data 
system within 72 hours of notification of loss or theft. Until that 
system is established, the Attorney General must enter that information 
into any existing data system.
  Another section of our bill will make a significant difference in our 
efforts to stop terrorists from ever entering our country. Passenger 
manifests on all flights scheduled to come to the United States must be 
forwarded in real-time, and then cleared, by the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service prior to the flight's arrival. All cruise and 
cargo lines and cross-border bus lines will also have to submit such 
lists to the INS. Our bill also removes a current U.S. requirement that 
all passengers on flights to the United States be cleared by the INS 
within 45 minutes of arrival. Clearly, in some circumstances, the INS 
will need more time to clear all prospective entrants to the United 
States. These simple steps will give appropriate officials advance 
notice of foreigners coming into the country, particularly visitors or 
immigrants who pose security threats to the United States.
  The Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act will also provide much 
needed reforms and requirements in our U.S. foreign student visa 
program, which has allowed numerous foreigners to enter the country 
without ever attending classes and, for those who do attend class, with 
lax or no oversight of such students by the Federal Government. Our 
bill will change that, and will require that the State Department 
within 4 months, with the concurrence of the Department, maintain a 
computer database with all relevant infromation about foreign students.
  In the past decade, more than 16,000 people have entered the United 
States on student visas from states included on the Government's list 
of terrorist sponsors. Notwithstanding that Syria is one of the 
countries on the list, the State Department recently issued visas to 14 
Syrian nationals so that they could attend flight schools in Fort 
Worth, TX. United States educational institutions will be required to 
immediately notify the INS when a foreign student violates the term of 
the visa by failing to show up for class or leaving

[[Page S12252]]

school early. Our legislation will prevent most persons from obtaining 
student visas if they come from terrorist-supporting states such as 
Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, and Syria, unless the Secretary of State and 
Attorney General determine that such applicants do not pose a threat to 
the safety or national security of the United States.

  For the first time since the War of 1812, the United States has faced 
a massive attack from foreigners on our own soil. Every one of the 
terrorists who committed the September 11 atrocities were foreign 
nationals who had entered the United States legally through our visa 
system. None of them should have been allowed entry due to their ties 
to terrorist organizations, and yet even those whose visas had expired 
were not expelled.
  Mohamed Atta, for example, the suspected ringleader of the attacks, 
was allowed into the United States on a tourist visa, even though he 
made clear his intentions to go to flight school while in the United 
States. Clearly, at the very least, he should have been queried about 
why he was using his tourist visa to attend flight school.
  Another hijacker, Hani Hanjour, was here on a student visa that had 
expired as of September 11. Hani Hanjour never attended class. In 
addition, at least two other visitor visa-holders overstayed their 
visa. In testimony before the Terrorism subcommittee of which I am the 
ranking member, U.S. officials have told us that they possess little 
information about foreigners who come into this country, how many there 
are, and even whether they leave when required by their visas.
  America is a nation that welcomes international visitors, and should 
remain so. But terrorists have taken advantage of our system and its 
openness. Now that we face new threats to our homeland, it is time we 
restore some balance to our consular and immigration policies.
  As former chairman and now ranking Republican of the Judiciary 
Committee's Terrorism Subcommittee, I have long suggested, and strongly 
supported, many of the anti-terrorism and immigration initiatives now 
being advocated by Republicans and Democrats alike. In my sadness about 
the overwhelming and tragic events that took thousands of precious 
lives, I am resolved to push forward on all fronts to fight against 
terrorism. That means delivering justice to those who are responsible 
for the lives lost on September 11, and reorganizing the institutions 
of government so that the law-abiding can continue to live their lives 
in freedom. It is extremely important that we pass the Border Security 
and Visa Entry Reform Act before we adjourn for the year. To all of the 
Senators who worked on this bill, including Senators Kennedy, 
Feinstein, Brownback, and Hatch, Snowe, Cantwell, Bond, Sessions, 
Thurmond and others I again want to express my appreciation. This bill 
will make a difference.
                                 ______
                                 


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