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Democrats Block Efforts to Stop Serious Felons from Gaining Access to American Ports

Location: Washington, DC

Democrats Block Effort to Stop Serious Felons from Gaining Access to American Ports

Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) sharply criticized Democrats for weakening a Senate-passed port security measure that would have prevented criminals convicted of serious felonies from gaining secure access at American ports.

The SAFE Ports Act approved by Congress last week only barred a few criminals who have been convicted of espionage, sedition, treason, and terrorism. However, after pressure from labor unions, Democrats dropped the lifetime bans on six other serious felonies along with interim bans on fourteen others.

"It's shameful Democrats would block legislation that could stop serious felons from gaining access to our ports," said Senator DeMint. "The security stakes are too high to trust serious felons who could be manipulated or bribed by people trying to smuggle a nuclear device or chemical weapon into our country.

"We can spend all of the money in the world screening cargo but it's all for nothing if we don't screen the people who work at our ports. By blocking this measure, Democrats are telling Americans it will board up the front of the house but leave the back door open along with all the windows," said Senator DeMint.

Specifically, Democrats worked to drop the lifetime ban on individuals convicted for (1) a crime involving a transportation security incident resulting in a significant loss of life, environmental damage, transportation system disruption, or economic disruption in a particular area, (2) improper transportation of a hazardous material, (3) unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, manufacture, purchase, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, export, storage of, or dealing in an explosive or explosive device, (4) murder, (5) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act, and (6) conspiracy to commit any of these offenses.

In addition, an interim ban was dropped for individuals convicted in the past seven years or incarcerated in past five years for (1) assault with intent to murder, (2) kidnapping or hostage taking, (3) rape or aggravated sexual abuse, (4) unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase, distribution, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, deliver, import, export of, or dealing in a firearm or other weapon, (5) extortion, (6) dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud, (7) bribery, (8) smuggling, (9) immigration violations, (10) violations of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act, (11) robbery, (12) distribution of, possession with intent to distribute, or importation of a controlled substance, (13) arson, (14) conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes.

Senator DeMint is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which is responsible for port security.

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