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

June 26, 2002

Gekas Introduces Sweeping Immigration Reform Bill

‘The time for reform is now’

Washington, D.C.--Congressman George W. Gekas (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, today introduced the SAFER (Securing America’s Future through Enforcement Reform) Act. If enacted into law the act will make sweeping changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act to ensure a safer America.

“We can no longer ignore the link between our immigration system and our vulnerability to terrorism,” said Gekas. “It is not just a matter, as some have claimed, of fixing the student visa program or the tourist visa program. After September 11, we found that each and every aspect of our immigration system has been utilized by foreign terrorists to gain access to the United States.”

The SAFER Act (H.R. 5013) creates reforms in six specific areas of immigration policy: 1) securing the border, 2) screening aliens seeking admission, 3) tracking aliens in the United States, 4) removing alien terrorists, criminals, and human rights abusers, 5) enhancing interior enforcement, and 6) having a legal immigration system that makes sense.

“Our immigration system is in desperate need of reform,” Gekas said. “The U.S. is currently overwhelmed by at least eight million illegal aliens. The State Department and INS are completely overwhelmed. The time for reform is now.”

The following is a summary of the bill:

Securing the Border

The SAFER Act will increase the penalties against alien smugglers.

The SAFER Act will increase the Border Patrol to over 16,000 officers.

The SAFER Act will give the president the option to fully utilize the military along our borders to supplement the Border Patrol’s efforts to keep out terrorists, drug smugglers and other illegal aliens.

Tracking Aliens in the United States

The SAFER Act will require the tracking of all aliens entering and leaving the U.S.

The SAFER Act will require that the foreign student tracking system be fully operational by January, and will require schools to report to the INS on the subject matter of each course taken by foreign students.

The SAFER Act will require all long-term alien visitors and residents to be fingerprinted and to periodically register their addresses with the INS.

The SAFER Act will allow professional bail bondsmen to track down aliens who have violated the terms of their visas.

Screening Aliens Seeking Admission

The SAFER Act will increase the number of INS inspections officers.

The SAFER Act will require the State Department to conduct in-person interviews of all visa applicants.

The SAFER Act will eliminate a dangerous loophole in the visa waiver program and require that aliens arriving under the program have passports containing biometric identifiers.

The SAFER Act will prohibit entry into the U.S. of any aliens who are members of terrorist organizations, support terrorism, or solicit funds for terrorist organizations.

The SAFER Act will increase resources available to root out fraud by visa applicants.

The SAFER Act will prohibit bogus and fly-by-night schools from sponsoring aliens for student visas.

Removing Alien Terrorists, Criminals, and Human Rights Violators

The SAFER Act will require the expedited deportation of any aliens who are members of terrorist organizations, support terrorism, or solicit funds for terrorist organizations.

The SAFER Act will ensure that terrorists don’t receive asylum.

The SAFER Act will require the deportation of all aliens who commit murder, rape, or the sexual abuse of a child.

The SAFER Act will prohibit entry into the U.S. of serious human rights violators.

The SAFER Act will prevent aliens who are criminals or serious human rights violators from being able to avoid deportation by claiming they will be “tortured”.

Enhancing Enforcement of the Immigration and Nationality Act in the Interior

The SAFER Act will increase the security and counterfeit-resistance of birth certificates, driver’s licenses and Social Security cards.

The SAFER Act will foil the ability of illegal aliens to get jobs by requiring that employers check the validity of new employees’ social security numbers.

The SAFER Act will increase the number of INS investigators.

The SAFER Act makes it a federal crime to overstay a visa by more than six months.

The SAFER Act will double the INS’s capacity to detain aliens.

The SAFER Act will eliminate excessive court review of deportation orders and will reduce the ability of immigration lawyers to engage in dilatory and abusive tactics in deportation proceedings.

Reforming Legal Immigration

The SAFER Act will establish an Office of Citizenship in the INS to encourage naturalization and increase the meaning of the naturalization process.

The SAFER Act will prohibit the issuance of any visas to nationals of countries that are state sponsors of terrorism.

The SAFER Act will modestly reduce legal immigration levels by about 20% from their current levels of over one million a year.

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