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Public Statements

Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 And 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. The U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination and promote equality recognizes the commitment of our governments to promote equality and opportunity.

It also underscores the importance of cooperating in the promotion of human rights in order to maintain an environment of peace, of democracy, and of prosperity in the region.

The United States' commitment to freedom and equality is longstanding. This joint action plan between our two countries helps to further these values throughout the hemisphere.

Mr. Meeks' amendment requires the Secretary of State to report on the progress of these important bilateral efforts under the action plan. This report will help to bring accountability and greater oversight to the objectives and to the goals of this important joint effort between the United States and Brazil.

I thank Congressman Meeks for his introduction of this amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, the Merida Initiative is an historic opportunity to cooperate with our democratic partners in the region against narcotrafficking and organized crime. Requiring comprehensive reporting on U.S. actions and the consequences of such are essential not only to ensuring oversight but also to ensuring our efforts are effective and, indeed, long lasting.

Congresswoman Kirkpatrick's amendment works to include a review of the illegal southbound flow of cash under Merida reporting. I believe we should also oversee north in addition to southbound flows of cash across our borders. Only through a comprehensive approach and understanding of what we are facing can we truly be successful.

I support the gentlewoman's amendment, and I congratulate her for offering it.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. I thank the gentleman from Massachusetts for his helpful and constructive amendment.

I rise in support of this amendment.

I had the opportunity to travel to these areas with the gentleman a few years back. Congress has recognized the debt owed to the Iraqis and Afghans who work at great personal risk in support of our troops. It has responded by creating two Special Immigrant Visa, SIV, programs. One is an SIV program for Iraqi and Afghani translators and interpreters. The second is an SIV program for Iraqi employers and contractors and their families, along with providing refugee resettlement benefits.

However, as a 2008 report by the State Department Inspector General stated: the current process resulted in applicants' receiving SIVs who, one, did not meet the program's criteria of working primarily as interpreters or as translators or, two, in the OIG team's opinion, appeared to be outside the legislative intent of the program. As a result, the number of SIVs that could have been allocated to other qualified applicants were not.

This amendment seeks to address a number of those issues by requiring our State Department, among other actions, to develop clear guidance on eligibility for adjudicators, to maintain a high level of vigilance due to the high risk of fraud and abuse, and many other items.

I again thank the gentleman from Massachusetts. I urge my colleagues to support this vital and important amendment.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time, Madam Chair.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, although the amendment urges the executive branch to undertake assessments that, I hope, are already going into the administration's policymaking, I do not oppose this amendment.

All of us are, of course, opposed to alien smuggling, trafficking persons and terrorists entering the United States. We believe that U.S. efforts to fight those grave problems should be cost effective. Thus, I support the amendment's call for a report on this subject.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, I support this amendment because the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was fully implemented in June of this year with the goal of strengthening U.S. border security while at the same time enhancing accountability of those entering our country.

By calling on the Secretary of State to provide a report to Congress describing the impact this implementation has had on the flow of people, goods, and services across the international borders shared by the relevant countries, Congressman Peters' amendment will help us understand better how effective this initiative has been in making our country safer and what impact these two measures will have on the business sectors of our countries.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was a significant step toward
making America more secure. Congressman Peters' amendment is important as it would provide greater accountability and oversight of the objectives and consequences of this important initiative and will ultimately help us protect the interests and the safety of the American people.

And with that, I yield back.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, while I am concerned by the proliferation of exchange-related authorization earmarks in the underlying bill, which circumscribes the discretion of States' educational and cultural affairs bureaus in deciding how to allot our finite education and exchange resources, I do not oppose this amendment.

I support efforts to use our educational and exchange resources to help support the development of clean and efficient energy sources, and I appreciate the fact that this amendment does not include a specific authorization amount. Therefore, I support the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, I want to rise in support of the amendment offered by the gentlelady from Texas.

The women of Afghanistan have taken great strides since the fall of the Taliban to fully take part in all aspects of their society. Women have realized significant gains in the last several years. However, much remains to be done.

Laws and regulations passed to safeguard the rights of women must be enforced and respected at the provincial and local levels in order to ensure that women make progress throughout all aspects of Afghan society. It is critical that women legislators of Afghanistan receive the necessary training and support that they need to prevent a return to the intimidation, to the discrimination, to the violence that they faced under the Taliban.

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Chair, the Congress put the force of law behind its condemnation of the use of child soldiers through the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, authored by my good friend from Nebraska (Mr. Fortenberry). This was incorporated into the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act and became public law in December 2008. We further opined on this matter in the Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2008, which became law in October of last year. However, a sense of Congress reaffirming that the use of child soldiers is unacceptable must be supported. I applaud my good friend from Texas for bringing this important issue to our attention again. It is right and just to do so. I encourage our colleagues to support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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