ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION -- (House of Representatives - March 14, 2007)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. I thank the gentleman from California, and I thank him for his insightfulness on the immigration issue.
He has done so much work in his service in this Congress addressing this issue and encouraging people to look at the issue, to learn about the issue and to realize it is more than just a surface issue.
I also have appreciated the fact that the gentleman has encouraged people to realize the compassionate thing to do in this is to make certain that we keep immigration legal and that we honor the men and women who have gone through the process legally.
That is important to do, and it is the right step
It is the compassionate step to make.
H.R. 1314 addresses the issue that Mr. Bilbray mentioned and referenced as he opened his remarks about those that have entered the country illegally, getting access to our financial markets. Now, H.R. 1314 is the Photo Identification Security Act. This is a great piece of legislation. It is not a lengthy bill, it is one that I think everybody here in the House can pick up and read in 1 or 2 minutes. As you see, it is only about three pages.
What it does is something very big and very important, though, it closes a loophole that exists in the PATRIOT Act and the IRS regulations, and it is through that loophole that you could literally drive a truck. That is the
loophole that we know that not only illegal immigrants use, but sexual predators and identity thieves, those people that want to be anonymous, that need to be anonymous, that have to be anonymous to the legal system. This is what they are choosing to use to gain access to banking institutions, to wire transfer services from the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, the IRS. It is giving them the ability to sign up for credit cards, to get home mortgages, to obtain taxpayer identification numbers, which employers call ITEN numbers, and to transfer money from this country back to Mexico.
This is a difficult situation for our country, because we have spent a lot of time, effort and energy trying to seek out terrorist groups and those that would do us harm. We are spending a lot of time, effort and energy talking about protecting intellectual property and looking at money laundering and how those pirates are laundering money and sending it back out of the country, taking money out of our communities.
We are spending a lot of time routing out identity thieves. Certainly in my community I hear from so many people who have had their identity lifted. They have had it stolen. They have had somebody take that from them, and then these individuals want to go open checking accounts, they want to go open credit cards and run up the number, just swipe those numbers off that credit card, run it ragged.
Somebody pays the bill, and it always comes back to being the American taxpayer that is going to pay the bill for fraud and for misuse. Happens every single time, every single time. This is a very serious problem to the faith that people have in our governing institutions. It is a serious problem to the stability of our financial markets. But there is a solution to this problem, and it is H.R. 1314, the Photo Identification Security Act.
As I said, it is a very simple bill, and I will do three things. It says in order to access our nation's financial services, in order to do business with the Federal Government, you have to present one of the three secure forms of ID as recognized in this country.
Number one would be a Social Security card with a government-issued State or Federal government issued photo ID. This could be a driver's license, if you are from a State that complies with the REAL ID Act.
Then you have got number two, a U.S. passport or a foreign nation passport. That would be a passport that we recognize, that we have a reciprocity agreement with.
The third form of ID would be a US citizenship and immigration service photo ID card. Now, that would be your USCIS permanent resident card, permanent alien card, work card, green card. Simply put, you have to have a visa before you can apply for a visa if this legislation passes, and we are encouraging everyone to join us in this. We are encouraging everyone, both parties, both Houses, to sign on, let's close this loophole and close it quickly.
I was talking to one of my constituents about this problem after it had arisen, it was a banker, in rural west Tennessee in my district. He was excited that we were working on this bill and thrilled that we were going to be closing this loophole. He looked at it like this, he told me a story of a couple of his customers, they had worked at a local plant, both had retired.
Then they decided they wanted to buy a motor home, which they did, good customers at the bank, so they get the motor home. They decide to start travelling.
Well, they needed a credit card to make reservations at those campgrounds. This banker could not get them a credit card because they had never had a credit card. They had a checking account. They had pretty much operated on cash, they had retired, they were now unemployed. They could not qualify for a credit card.
So, when the scandal began that we had major iconic banks in this country issuing credit cards to those that had illegally entered this country, as long as they were willing to put $100 in a checking account and leave it there for a month, then they could get a $500 credit card, that gentleman, that good, solid, patriotic American man that has worked for a company, retired from a company and wanted to enjoy his retirement years, walked into that bank, and he asked that banker, do I need to be an illegal immigrant just to get a credit card in this country?
That is the right question for him to ask. That is how ludicrous the practice is and how horrific it is that we would have these big banks, big banks, big iconic companies that have benefitted from the prosperity of this great Nation to play favorites and to say, all right, if you are an illegal immigrant, if you want to put $100 in over here, I am going to give you a $500 credit card.
Basically, I will tell you, that is predatory lending. Basically, that is a pretty high interest rate to go get a credit card, but that is the way we are doing it, and their response is we are exploiting a loophole. So the loophole needs to be closed because it just isn't right. It isn't a practice that should continue.
Another thing I have heard from some of my constituents is this, all of our local communities depend on keeping money in that community and having it turn over in the community several times before it leaves. You know, once somebody earns a dollar, they like to have that dollar turn over three and a half, four, four and a half, five times, in order to keep that economy humming along.
You earn the dollar, you go by the grocery store and make the purchase, and by the dry cleaners and by the shoe shop. You go over and you take the kids out for ice cream after you have gone to the ball game. You go buy new sporting goods for them to play in that ball game. Then you go buy new clothes for Easter as you are getting ready for Easter, and a swim suit for summer, maybe even a little swimming school for the backyard. The point is, the money has to turn over in that community in order for the community to be available.
Guess what, our friendly Federal Reserve system has done? The Federal Reserve system of the U.S. government has set up a system that allows illegal immigrants to transfer money back to the Bank of Mexico, direct to Mexico is the program.
The funny thing about this is, there are 27,000 transaction a month to the tune of $23 billion a year.
Mr. Speaker, guess what? Friendly Federal Reserve is bragging about keeping the fees low, $0.67 a 100. Well, I have not found a one of my constituents who has said their ATM fees are going down. I have not had a one of them say their checking account fees are going down. I haven't had a one of them say they have had any transaction fee go down. My merchants complain about the fees that they get charged. And we even have a hearing reported in one of our Hill newspapers today about retailers and banks duking it out over transaction fees.
But then we have another article that came out of the L.A. Times that is talking about the Federal Reserve bragging about being able to keep these fees low.
Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a little bit of a head scratcher, I will have to admit it, my goodness gracious, you know, when they can go in here and they can wire this money out of the country, 27,000 transactions a month, $23 billion a year, the money is not turning over in the local communities.
Some of our friends across the aisle are saying, well, you know, we are not seeing what we want in jobs growth and income growth, even though it has been pretty healthy. Maybe they need to look at some of this. Maybe they need to join us in stopping illegal immigration. Maybe they need to join us in standing against amnesty. Maybe they need to make sure that we are a sovereign and free Nation, and that we remain so.
The Photo Identification Security Act, closing the loophole that allows those that have illegally entered this country, that allows those who are predators and identity thieves to remain anonymous to the system; closing that loophole, so that they do not have access to credit, so that they do not have access to our financial markets, so that they cannot have the ability to remain anonymous to the system.
I encourage everyone to join me in supporting H.R. 1314, the Photo Identification Security Act. I encourage everyone in this body, Mr. Speaker, to join us in closing this loophole that exists in the PATRIOT Act and the IRS
regulations. And I encourage them to join us in encouraging the Federal Reserve to end the program that allows $23 billion to be transferred out of this Nation every year without turning over in the community. Every single year.
Let's be certain that we keep our economy secure and safer. Let's be sure that we keep our communities secure and safe, and let's be certain that we are fair to the families and the working men and women in this great Nation.
And I yield back to the gentleman from California.
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