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Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2005

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND STATE, THE JUDICIARY, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - July 08, 2004)

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Virginia (Chairman WOLF) for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, I oppose the Sanders amendment which would make libraries and bookstores a sanctuary for terrorists. There are many misconceptions about the PATRIOT Act, but section 215 has received an unfair amount of criticism. Section 215 covers access to business records. Library records, among other types of business records, have always been accessible under this provision.

[Time: 13:00]

These records have been subject to subpoenas by grand juries for more than 30 years. For example, in 1997 a murder case in Florida allowed a grand jury to subpoena the records from the public libraries in Miami.

Section 215 actually provides more protections than the subpoena powers of grand juries. First, this provision does not apply to ordinary citizens engaging in ordinary criminal activity. In order to conduct a search of records, the FBI must have a court order.

Second, there are narrow restrictions on when such a record search may take place. It can only be used to obtain foreign intelligence information concerning a noncitizen of the United States or to obtain information relating to international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.

Again, this type of record search is not available in ordinary crimes or even for domestic terrorism. Library records can provide a legitimate source of information on individuals planning terrorist attacks against us. If we exempt library and book store records from foreign intelligence investigations, then terrorists will know exactly how to hide what they are doing. If this amendment passes, terrorists will know that if they use computers at taxpayer-funded public libraries, the FBI would be powerless to get records of their terrorist activities. When drug dealers or crime syndicates use these computers, these very same computers, these records have always been available to grand juries. Why not the terrorist records as well?

Mr. Chairman, finally, I would like to add that this is an issue that should be considered by the Committee on the Judiciary, not as an amendment to an appropriations bill.

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I support the King Amendment, which would designate funds to enforce a section of the United States Code that has been law since 1996.

The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, prohibits states and localities from refusing to share information with the Federal government on the immigration status of individuals.

Some localities don't allow their officers to report the illegal status of criminal aliens to the Federal government. This is a direct violation of Federal law and hinders our efforts to remove criminal immigrants from the United States. It turns these localities into resorts for illegal immigrants.

The Federal government cannot do its job of deporting criminal aliens if law enforcement is not telling the Federal government who these individuals are. This results in a situation where criminal aliens are arrested, jailed, and then released into our communities where they commit more crimes.

When State and local law enforcement officers arrest someone for a crime, and it becomes apparent that the person is an illegal alien, this should be reported to the Federal government so the individual can be deported. To hide the illegal status of a criminal alien only means more crime.

This amendment does nothing to change existing immigration law. This amendment simply requires the Federal government to enforce current law.

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