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Public Statements

9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


9/11 RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - October 08, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 827 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 10.

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AMENDMENT NO. 14 OFFERED BY MR. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment No. 14 offered by Mr. Smith of New Jersey:

Strike section 3006 (page 242, line 18 through page 244, line 9) and redesignate provisions and conform the table of contents accordingly.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 827, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, section 3006 would make one of the most sweeping, unfair changes in immigration policy in the last decade and, if enacted, would pose life-threatening consequences for asylum seekers, trafficking victims, men, women and children. Section 3006 would radically alter existing law with respect to expedited removal, and it would mandate that any noncitizen found in the U.S. be summarily deported if an immigration officer determined that the person had not been inspected upon entry to the country and could not prove to the immigration officer that he or she had been living in the U.S. for more than 5 years.

This mandate, Mr. Chairman, effectively transforms what was a discretionary program managed by Homeland Security and requires them to impose this procedure anywhere, including in the interior of the U.S.

Section 3006 would be especially harmful for women and children who are escaping a range of gender-related persecutions such as rape, sexual slavery, trafficking and honor killings since persons scarred by such trauma often require time before they can step forward to express their claims.

Mr. Chairman, section 3006 would provide for a super-expedited process of removing these people from the United States, with virtually no right of review, thus eviscerating protections that Congress has provided over the last several years for such victims in the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act which I was the prime sponsor of and is the law of the land.

Mr. Chairman, I want all of my colleagues to know that President Bush, in his SAP which came out yesterday, made it very clear that he is against this provision. The Bush administration wants this out. I call on Members on both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to vote for my amendment which would strip it. Also, there are some 40 organizations, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops; National Association of Evangelicals; Refugees International; and Human Rights First-a whole array from the left, right, middle, and everywhere else, who say this is an unwarranted change, an unfair change in our immigration policy. It does not belong in here. The 9/11 Commission did not ask for it.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to my good friend and colleague, the gentleman from California (Mr. Berman).

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the distinguished gentleman from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart).

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AMENDMENT NO. 15 OFFERED BY MR. SMITH OF NEW JERSEY

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment No. 15 offered by Mr. Smith of New Jersey:

Strike section 3007 (page 244, line 10 through page 247, line 18) and redesignate provisions and conform the table of contents accordingly.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 827, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, section 3007 would make sweeping changes, again, to our asylum law that the drafters erroneously contend would stop terrorists from being granted asylum. I think Members should remember that under the Immigration and Nationality Act, terrorists are ineligible for asylum. Worse than being unnecessary, Mr. Chairman, this section would erect a number of brand-new barriers to winning asylum claims that are likely to prevent bona fide refugees from receiving the protection of asylum in the United States, and they will result in bona fide refugees being returned to their persecutors. This stacks the deck against refugees.

Let me just point out to my colleagues that in section 3007, asylum officers and immigration judges would be encouraged to deny an asylum claim simply because the applicant was unable to recall or recount information later in the process that she did not mention when she initially encountered an immigration officer. Asylum applicants, particularly survivors of torture, rape, forced abortion or sterilization may not be comfortable telling this information to a uniformed male inspection officer at an airport. Asylum applicants in that setting may not be provided with appropriate interpreters and may be understandably fearful of discussing their problems about their home countries in detail. They are frightened people, especially trafficking victims.

In section 3007 there is also, amazingly, a demeanor standard which flies in the face of our American standards. If somebody looks down during the asylum interview and does not somehow convey honesty, when one has been tortured, when they have been a victim of trafficking, when they have been hurt emotionally, psychologically, and physically, they could be denied asylum. Sometimes, talking to somebody who is a uniformed member of our service, they may be intimidated.

Also, and this is the central problem with this language, Mr. Chairman, it changes what is in the Refugee convention. There are five reasons why people can get asylum: race, nationality, religion, the Members know what they are. This changes it so that the applicant must prove it is the central reason. Asking asylum seekers to read the minds of their persecutors is absurd on its face. This will mean many people who are true asylum seekers, that should get it, will not get it.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart).

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the distinguished gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Abercrombie).

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, because I have so many requests for time and will not get to all of them, I ask unanimous consent to extend this debate by 5 minutes equally divided between the proponent and opponent.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New Jersey?

Mr. SENSENBRENNER. I object, Mr. Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Objection is heard.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield 45 seconds to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cardin), who is the vice chairman of the Helsinki Commission, on which I serve as well.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from California (Mr. Berman).

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