BORDER PROTECTION, ANTITERRORISM, AND ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CONTROL ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - December 15, 2005)
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Mr. GINGREY. Mr. Chairman, I believe that the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 needs to address a loophole in our immigration system. I have introduced this amendment which suspends, not cancels, but suspends temporarily the Visa Waiver Program until the machine-readable and tamper-resistant biometric identification system mandated by the PATRIOT Act to be the cornerstone of the entry-exit system is fully operational.
Until we have the technical and human resources to secure our points of entry, we cannot afford to allow visitors to come to the United States without prescreening them prior to arrival. Despite the fact that the United Kingdom is one of our Nation's closest friends and allies, the London subway bombings earlier this year were executed in large part by British citizens with known ties to terrorism.
We know that terrorists like Zacharias Moussaui and Richard Reid exploited the Visa Waiver Program to travel to the United States. Do we want individuals like these to fly to America unchecked and to attack our subway system in the name of terrorist groups like al Qaeda under the cloak of the Visa Waiver Program? Do we want French citizens with Islamofascist mindsets to get a free pass through Customs? If not, we need to suspend this program until we are equipped to check the criminal and terrorist backgrounds of every visitor who arrives at a point of entry and to confirm the identity of each visitor using biometric identifiers.
The success and failure of the Visa Waiver Program can trace its roots back to 1986 when it was passed as part of the Immigration Reform Control Act. As many of my colleagues know, what we left undone in 1986 is in large part why we need to consider a new immigration reform law in 2005 that is consistent with the recent reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act. The Visa Waiver Program was only designed to be a temporary program for a small and select group of nations. Today, 27 countries are eligible under visa waivers, opening the door widely, widely, Mr. Chairman, for an unscreened terrorist to attack the United States.
Yesterday, the United States USA PATRIOT and Terrorism Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2005 passed by a vote of 251-174, a strong endorsement for securing our Nation against terrorism. The PATRIOT Act acknowledges the problem of the Visa Waiver Program, and I have introduced this amendment to suspend the program until the solution made possible by the PATRIOT Act can realistically take effect. This is an issue that extends beyond apprehending illegal immigrants and actually works to secure our points of entry from those who desire to attack our Nation.
Mr. Chairman, I include for the RECORD a letter from the 9/11 Families for a Secure America in full support of this amendment.
9/11 FAMILIES FOR A SECURE AMERICA, DECEMBER 15, 2005.
Staten Island, NY,
Hon. PHIL GINGREY,
Cannon House Office Building,
DEAR MR. GINGREY, 9/11 Families for a Secure America fully supports your amendment to H.R. 4437 to suspend the Visa Waiver Program until the automated entry-exit control system authorized by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 is fully implemented.
The recent civil disturbances in France make it quite clear that the time is past when citizens of particular countries should be granted blanket permission to enter the United States without first applying for a visa. Many of the nations of Europe, after decades of permitting mass immigration from nations that sponsor terrorism have created a situation where large numbers of Islamic extremists, though closely connected to the terrorism that originates in countries such as Saudi Arabia, are themselves citizens or native born in any of a dozen European nations. The result is that Islamic extremism is no longer limited to persons born in or citizens of Middle Eastern nations. For this reason, citizens of European countries should be subject to the same visa application process which applies to the other nations of the world.
If Islamic extremists commit another 9/11 it will not make any difference to the victims of that attack that the people responsible carried French passports rather than ones issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia or Lebanon.
The Board of Directors,
9/11 Families for a Secure America
Bruce DeCell, Sergeant, NYPD (retired), Father-in-law of Mark Petrocelli, age 29.
Bill Doyle, father of Joseph, age 24, WTC North Tower.
Lynn Faulkner, husband of Wendy, WTC South Tower.
Peter and Jan Gadiel, parents of James, age 23, WTC, North Tower 103rd floor.
Grace Godshalk, mother of William R. Godshalk, age 35, WTC South Tower 89th floor.
Joan Molinaro, mother of firefighter Carl Molinaro.
Will Sekzer, Detective Sergeant (retired) NYPD, father of Jason Sekzer, age 31, WTC North Tower 105th floor.
Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GINGREY. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, these are issues that must be addressed, and I will assure the gentleman that, as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, that I will work on these issues and address the very real concerns that you have. I would ask in that context you consider withdrawing the amendment with that pledge I make to you.
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PART B AMENDMENT NO. 9 OFFERED BY MR. CASTLE
Mr. CASTLE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
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Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
Mr. Chairman, I once again am proud to urge adoption of his amendment. It is very a constructive addition to the bill. It certainly deserves the support of all Members, and I urge its adoption.
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, I wonder if I could ask the chairman of the committee a question: I understand from the Democrats on the Rules Committee that we have not yet received the manager's amendment that has been discussed so frequently on the floor today to the underlying bill. We have not seen anything. Do you have any idea when Members will see this manager's amendment that has been discussed today?
Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Mr. KING of New York. No, I cannot enlighten the gentlewoman at all. As soon I find out, you will be the first to know.
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