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U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on the Judiciary

F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman


News Advisory

For immediate release                                                                                                

Contact: Jeff Lungren/Terry Shawn

March 12, 2002 


House Again Passes Border and Visa Security Legislation

Sensenbrenner: “It’s Time for the Senate Leadership to Act”


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House today by a 275-137 margin passed legislation providing critical visa and border security safeguards. These protections, already passed by the House without opposition on December 19, 2001, have been held up by Democratic opposition in the Senate.

“This legislation provides vital changes to our immigration laws to fight terrorism and prevent exploitation by some illegal aliens who wish to harm Americans. It builds upon enhanced data sharing requirements in the PATRIOT Act and includes key changes to our immigration laws such as requiring new biometric visas and strengthening the foreign student tracking system,” stated House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.). “It’s time for the Senate Leadership to act on this legislation. The visa and border security provisions passed almost three months ago and we’ve seen zero movement by the Senate.

Visa and border security highlights include:

·         Strengthening the foreign student tracking system by requiring that it track: 1) the acceptance of aliens by educational institutions; 2) the issuance of visas to the aliens; 3) the admission into the U.S. of the aliens and the notification of these educational institutions of the admittance of these aliens; and 4) the enrollment of the aliens at the institutions.

·        Requiring the State Department by October 26, 2003 to only issue to aliens visas and other travel documents that are tamper-resistant and machine-readable using standardized biometric identifiers. Aliens entering the U.S. under the visa waiver program will have to possess passports with the same features (if issued after this date). By the same date (October 26, 2003) the INS must install scanners to read the biometric documents at all ports of entry. The INS must implement an integrated entry and exit data system (for nationals of countries other than Canada) containing arrival and departure data from these documents.

·        Requiring U.S. embassies and consulates to utilize terrorist lookout committees in order to ensure that the names of known terrorists are routinely and consistently brought to the attention of consular officials.

·        Barring nationals of countries that are state sponsors of terrorism from receiving temporary visas unless it has been determined that the aliens do not pose a threat to the safety of Americans or the national security of the U.S.

·        Providing an electronic data system that allows current and immediate access for consular officers and INS officials to information in databases of U.S. law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community.

·        Authorizing an additional 200 INS inspectors and 200 INS investigative personnel for each of the fiscal years 2002 through 2006. Also increases the pay and training of INS personnel, including Border Patrol agents, and beefs up consular offices at U.S. embassies. $150 million is authorized for the INS for improving technology at the border.

Today’s legislation also included a temporary extension of the 245(i) immigration program. H.R. 1885 will allow qualifying illegal aliens to utilize section 245(i) as long as they have green card petitions filed on their behalf by the earlier of November 30, 2002, or four months after the date the Attorney General issues implementing regulations. It also requires that aliens must have entered the family relationships qualifying them for permanent residence by August 14, 2001. Under H.R. 1885, section 245(i) is a temporary program that will not become a permanent part of U.S. immigration law. A similar extension of the 245(i) program passed the House on May 21, 2001 by a 336-43 margin.

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