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Public Statements

Providing for Consideration of H.R.1268, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 1268, EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR DEFENSE, THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, AND TSUNAMI RELIEF, 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 15, 2005)

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Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time. And, Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this rule. Last October, 282 Members of Congress voted for landmark legislation that fulfilled our duty to our constituents to make America an appreciably safer place. H.R. 10 truly reflected the hard-earned lesson of 9/11.

Unfortunately, the other body saw fit to strip from the bill some of its most vital provisions, measures designed to ensure that terrorists would never again be able to carry out their nefarious plots by abusing our immigration system and our identity documents.

Today, leadership is fulfilling a commitment that it made to the American people that these provisions would yet become law. Today's rule makes the text of H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act, a self-executing amendment to the Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act.

The gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman Sensenbrenner) introduced, and the House last month passed, the REAL ID Act containing many of the provisions stripped from the intelligence reform bill last year. I thank the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hastert), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DeLay), the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Blunt), and the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) for ensuring that the will of this House will be done, and that this crucial legislation will be enacted into law.

The goal of the REAL ID Act is straightforward. It seeks to prevent another catastrophic terrorist act by deterring terrorist travel. These terrorist methods of operation were mentioned both in the 9/11 Commission report and the 9/11 staff report on terrorist travel. Page 49 of the terrorist travel report states: "Abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activities." Page 59 states: "Members of al Qaeda clearly valued freedom of movement as critical to their ability to plan and carry out the attacks prior to September 11."

The REAL ID Act contains four provisions aimed at disrupting terrorist travel. First, it addresses the use of a driver's license as a form of Federal identification. American citizens have the right to know who is in their country, that people are who they say they are, and that the name on the driver's license is the real holder's name, not some alias.

The REAL ID Act will establish a uniform rule for all States that temporary driver's licenses for foreign visitors expire when their visa terms expire and establish tough rules for confirming identity before driver's licenses are issued.

Second, this legislation will tighten our asylum system. Some judges have made asylum laws vulnerable to fraud and abuse. We will end judge-imposed presumptions that benefit suspected terrorists so that we will stop providing them a safe haven.

The REAL ID Act will reduce the opportunity for immigration fraud so that we can protect honest asylum seekers and stop rewarding the terrorists and criminals who falsely claim persecution.

Third, the REAL ID Act will waive Federal laws to the extent necessary to complete gaps in the San Diego border security fence which is still unfinished 8 years after congressional authorization.

The REAL ID Act contains one final commonsense provision that helps protect Americans from terrorists who have been able to successfully infiltrate the United States: currently, certain terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility to our country are not also grounds for deportation. The REAL ID Act makes aliens deportable from the U.S. for terrorism-related offenses to the same extent that they would be inadmissible to the United States to begin with.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this rule.

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