PENCE SUPPORTS LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN NATIONAL SECURITY MEASURES
REAL ID Act of 2005 Will Close Loopholes, Strengthen Security
Washington, Feb 14 -
Congressman Mike Pence spoke from the House floor recently in support of the REAL ID Act of 2005. This legislation will strengthen our national security by enhancing border security, improving deportation laws and closing loopholes that allow terrorists to travel without suspicion. The REAL ID Act passed in the House by a vote of 261-161. Pence's comments follow:
"For one reason and one reason only, 9-11 is not theoretical for me: I was here. I was on the Capitol grounds. My family lives in the Washington D.C. area during the school year and, like millions of other families in New York and Washington D.C., my family was imperiled.
"As the 9-11 Commission Report stated, for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. On page 390 of the report, they pointed out that, 'All but one of the 9-11 hijackers acquired some form of U.S. identification by fraud and that acquisition of these forms of identification assisted them in boarding commercial flights.'
"By bringing this legislation to the floor today, Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner is making my family safer in this post 9-11 America by closing asylum loopholes and strengthening our deportation laws.
"It is time for Congress to get real and pass the REAL ID Act and make our families and our nation safer."
Implementing Much Needed Driver's License Reforms
- Driver's licenses have become the primary identification document in the United States, enabling individuals to get other identity documents, transfer funds to a U.S. bank account, obtain access to federal buildings and other vulnerable facilities, purchase a firearm, rent a car and board a plane.
- Lax standards and loopholes in the current issuance processes allow terrorists to obtain driver's licenses-often multiple licenses from different states-and abuse the license for identification purposes.
-Identification documents are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists.
- The REAL ID Act would require applicants to provide proof they are in the country legally. Currently, eleven states do not have such a requirement, meaning a majority of states have already recognized the need for tighter standards, but unnecessary and dangerous gaps in the system still exist.
- The REAL ID Act would require identity documents to expire at the same time as the expiration of lawful entry status, preventing those who have illegally entered or are unlawfully present in the U.S. from having valid identification documents.
- States would still issue driver's licenses and identification cards and would control their own driver database.
Closing Asylum Loopholes
- The 9-11 Commission's staff report on "9-11 and Terrorist Travel" found that "a number of terrorists . . . abused the asylum system"
- The liberal 9th Circuit Court has severely undermined current authorities by limiting the factors that judges can consider when assessing the credibility of an alien seeking asylum. This impairment encourages asylum fraud.
- The REAL ID Act would strengthen judges' ability to determine whether the asylum seeker is truthful. This provision codifies the factors immigration judges use to assess credibility and prevents the 9th Circuit from further undermining our national security.
- In 1996 Congress approved building the 14 mile long San Diego Border Fence on the Mexico-U.S. border, right next to a major U.S. Navy base.
- Construction of the fence was halted when radical environmentalists claimed that the area was a habitat of a rare bird. As a result, eight years later, the fence remains incomplete and is an opportunity for aliens to cross the border illegally.
- The REAL ID Act will require the completion of this important security fence.
Strengthening Deportation Laws
- Under current immigration laws, prohibitions on some terrorist-related activities only apply to aliens who are trying to enter the U.S., but not to those who already reside within our borders. Therefore, if an alien seeking a visa has been found to participate in certain terrorist-related activity, he/she is prohibited from entering the U.S. But if an alien is found to have participated in the same terrorist activity in the U.S., he/she may not be deportable.
- The REAL ID Act would finally make the laws consistent by providing that all terrorist-related offenses and making aliens inadmissible which would also be grounds for their deportation.
- The REAL ID Act provides that any alien contributing funds to a terrorist organization would be deportable.