[Congressional Record: March 13, 2002 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
ENHANCED BORDER SECURITY AND VISA ENTRY REFORM ACT OF 2002
HON. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Mr. ORTIZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman Sensenbrenner and
Ranking Member Conyers for bringing HR 1885 to the floor today. The
issue of border security and the extension of section 245(i) are truly
important issues, and I'm glad that they are being addressed. I support
HR 1885, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, for
many reasons, namely because it insures safety for the people within
this country's borders. This bill provides the tools necessary for the
U.S. Customs and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to better
serve the American people.
The bill also has a provision to extend the border crossing card
deadline for residents along the Southwestern border of the United
States. This extension will provide a much-needed boost to the
economies that have suffered since the tragic attacks of September
11th. After the attacks, Congress stopped work on a stand-alone bill
with bipartisan support to extend the deadline for one year to October
1, 2002. With this extension, shop owners that were forced to close
their doors after the deadline passed will once again be able to open
them. People granted the extension can use their border crossing cards
to go to school, to go to work, to go shopping, or to just merely visit
their families. They will continue being productive members of society
of the border economy.
The Southwestern border, according to a recent U.S. Chamber of
Commerce report, has a population of 6.2 million people in the U.S. and
approximately 4.3 million people in Mexico. The buying power of border
residents is immense and the economy of South Texas depends on their
participation in our market place. In my district alone, 75-80% of
Brownsville's downtown retail sales normally come from people crossing
the border. Since September 11th this number has dropped. This same
report also cites the border crossing card deadline as one of the main
reasons that fewer people are crossing the border. The economic effects
of the attacks in September were bad for the country; they were
devastating for the Southwestern border.
The Southwestern border is vitally important to the United States. It
is the gateway to the United States from Latin America, it is the port-
of-entry for one of our most valued trading partners, and it represents
the rich diversity of immigrants on which this country was founded.
This bill is an excellent first step in recognizing that fact. Again, I
thank Mr. Sensenbrenner and Mr. Conyers for their actions.
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