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[Congressional Record: November 14, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E2017]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []



                          HON. BETTY McCOLLUM

                              of minnesota

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, November 13, 2002

  Ms. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 2155, 
the Sober Borders Act.
  While I support the intent of this legislation, I am concerned H.R. 
2155 unnecessarily fails to balance our need for safe driving on the 
borders with the interests of a safe and legal flow of people across 
the borders too and from the United States.
  At a time when our border patrol officers and Immigration and 
Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors face heavy workloads, H.R. 2155 
would impose new duties unrelated to terrorism that could potentially 
overwhelm the resources and personnel available at our borders. In the 
wake of the September 11th tragedies, it is important that we allow INS 
agents and officials do to their jobs correctly and efficiently, 
without burdening them with new responsibilities normally assigned to 
state law enforcement agencies. We must be careful not to stretch the 
limited resources beyond INS's immigration and anti-terrorism 
  I am also concerned that H.R. 2155 could be improperly used to target 
persons on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin unless 
safeguards are added to prevent racial profiling. During mark-up of 
H.R. 2155, a sensible amendment was offered to monitor whether law 
enforcement uses their authority in a discriminatory manner to detain, 
test and arrest persons suspected of driving under the influence of 
drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, this amendment was defeated and the 
bill brought before the full House contained no accountability measures 
to prevent racial profiling and provided no opportunity to address this 
issue further.
  I believe this amendment was a modest request that would have made 
the underlying bill stronger. New authority (such as the new authority 
granted in H.R. 2155) that creates a risk of racial profiling should be 
accompanied by accountability mechanisms that measure whether profiling 
has occurred. It is important that in our pursuit for greater safety we 
do not violate the rights of certain individuals based merely on race, 
ethnicity or national origin.
  I support measures that seek to reduce drinking and driving in 
America's communities and neighborhoods. But in these efforts we must 
be careful not to weaken existing law enforcement functions or violate 
the rights of the American people. Regrettably, H.R. 2155 does not meet 
these goals.