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

[Congressional Record: April 2, 2003 (House)]
[Page H2682-H2683]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr02ap03-96]                         



 
                       FUNDING HOMELAND SECURITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, let me acknowledge the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Turner) for the excellent Special Order that 
preceded me, and I would ask that my remarks be placed in the Record 
alongside that Special Order.
  Madam Speaker, let me just suggest that we have an enormous challenge 
before us, and the responsibility that America is entrusting us with is 
a very difficult one, a very challenging one, but a very important one, 
and that is, of course, to secure the homeland. I like to think to 
secure the home front, the home city, to secure the counties and rural 
and urban communities, to secure the elderly, the disabled, the 
economically disadvantaged, people of all walks of life, individuals 
that do not speak English in our country, these are the 
responsibilities that we have.
  Madam Speaker, I am here to suggest that we have challenges. We have 
challenges at the northern border, and we have challenges at the 
southern border. I was just in the Committee on Rules and heard the 
discussion about funding needs for the southern border and the northern 
border.
  As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, 
I suggest we also have work to deal with this Nation of laws and 
immigrants. We are a Nation of immigration, and we should realize it 
does not equate to terrorism.
  Madam Speaker, in the emergency appropriations, I am going to ask for 
additional monies to help us with the student tracking program because 
we heard from the inspector general today that we need more resources 
to train the INS or the new agency that deals with this. We need more 
funds to train them how to do the student tracking program. As well, we 
need more funds for the implementation of the student tracking program. 
Our universities are suffering to a certain extent, and a lot of our 
research work is suffering.
  In addition, I think it is important that we look at the entry/exit 
system which is not designed to prevent individuals from entering or 
leaving the United States, it simply makes a record of their entry and 
exit. It is doubtful that it has much utility in enforcing our 
immigration laws. It can provide the INS with a daily list of 
nonimmigrant visitors who have overstayed their authorized visit, but 
it will not provide information where they are. We must focus on 
finding where these individuals are. That is how we secure the safety 
of America.
  So I also want to comment on the special registration program and 
suggest that we might look again at that to see whether or not that 
really does help us in terms of securing this Nation. What we need to 
do is ensure that we find the overstays, and that the overstayers are 
not here to do harm. We need to find the terrorist cells in this 
country and monitor them, and we need to provide the resources to the 
first responders.
  I have added an amendment in the emergency supplemental to ensure 
that we give an extra $2 million to our first responders, and an 
additional $3 million to our emergency hazardous materials units and in 
our respective fire departments throughout the Nation.
  Madam Speaker, I believe we have a lot of work to do, and we can do 
it together. I believe homeland security should be this Nation's first 
priority. We support the troops, the POWs, and their families. As they 
secure our freedom, we need to secure the homeland.
  As the ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, 
Border Security and Claims, I want to emphasize that immigration law 
enforcement and immigration benefits are interrelated and both merit 
serious attention, support, and funding. The transition from the former 
Immigration and Naturalization Service into the new department should 
be undertaken so as to ensure the full provision of services and 
effective and fair enforcement, while minimizing disruptions and 
delays.
  With the Department of Homeland Security's authority to establish and 
administer rules governing the granting of visas, it is vitally 
important that visas be granted to the people who come to build America 
and denied to those who mean to do us harm. We must balance our 
national security and economic security needs by recognizing that the 
United States is tied to the rest of the world economically, socially, 
and politically.
  Enforcement and adjudications come together at our ports of entry. 
Our national security and economic security depend on the efficient 
movement of cross-border travel and trade at these ports. The Bureau of 
Customs and Border Protections must coordinate with the Bureau of 
Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure that there are no 
unnecessary obstacles to cross-border travel. One good way of doing 
this is to examine ways to expand the use of preinspection stations and 
authorize pre-clearances for low-risk travelers.

[[Page H2683]]

  We need to take the time to ensure that our entry exit system works 
well. This may require billions of dollars to purchase real estate for 
new inspection lanes, to upgrade our inspection facilities generally, 
to develop our infrastructure and technological capabilities, and to 
hire additional inspectors. We must determine if the level of security 
the system would provide is worth the cost of the program. We also 
should consider whether the same level of security could be obtained 
through increased intelligence and database security checks that are 
performed outside the country.
  I want to emphasize that the entry exit system is not designed to 
prevent individuals from entering or leaving the United States. It 
simply makes a record of their entry and exit. It is doubtful that it 
has much utility in enforcing our immigration laws. It can provide the 
immigration service with a daily list of nonimmigrant visitors who have 
overstayed their authorized visits, but it will not provide information 
on where they are. The system will not tell us where they are until 
they appear at a border to leave the United States. I see little value 
in placing them in removal proceedings when they are trying to leave on 
their own volition.
  Special registration is a program under which people from certain, 
specified countries who fall within a specified age range are called in 
to be interviewed by immigration officers. The program targets groups 
of people through the use of national origin, race, and religious 
profiling, not information gathered by intelligence. The special 
registration program does not enhance our security. Rather, it 
alienates the very communities here in the United States and abroad 
that are necessary allies in our fight against terrorism.
  We need to do a better job of providing information to our 
immigration inspectors at the points of entry into our country. We need 
to obtain information from government agencies that collect criminal 
and intelligence data that may apply to some of the aliens who seek 
admission to the United States. A complete and accurate database should 
have a mechanism for correcting database errors. Having incorrect 
information only serves to hinder the inspection process and discredit 
the reliability of the security checks.
  The Department of Homeland Security has the responsibility of 
implementing the President's commitment to admit 70,000 refugees by the 
end of fiscal year 2003. Among other things, this requires security 
checks which are causing substantial delays in moving people from 
refugee camps to the United States. In addition to the delays, there is 
reason for concern about the effectiveness of the security checks. The 
current system relies on name checks, and, according to the information 
my counsel received at a meeting with the State Department, the 
information from these name checks has not resulted in denial of 
refugee admission in a single case yet.

                          ____________________





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