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Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2005

Location: Washington, DC

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 21, 2004)

FRIDAY, JUNE 18, 2004

The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4567) making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, and for other purposes:

Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Roybal-Allard amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill. This amendment stops the privatization of nearly 1,500 employees that are critical to our Nation's security.

The American people depend on these federal employees to process, investigate, and adjudicate applications for immigration rights and benefits in a timely and thorough manner. They also weed out frivolous and fraudulent applications and identify criminals and terrorists attempting to abuse the process. These federal employees perform background checks and search classified databases to investigate people that want to enter our country.

Why do we want an unaccountable and low-bid contractor to have the power to allow another 9-11 by cutting corners or not reading all the background? We cannot allow the profit margin to exist in our commitment to homeland security!
Why did we federalize airport security if we are going to fire the federal employees that prevent terrorists from getting into our country?

Another important reason why we need to stop privatization of these employees is because immigrants and their families depend on them to navigate through the complex maze of immigration laws and regulations. Immigration
Information Officers, for instance, are the last remaining federal employees that help immigrants with legal advice. The toll free phone line, since it was privatized, has simply become a phone line that reads out internet based information. It would be hypocritical to punish immigrants for minor mistakes in their immigration, but deny them the legal advice necessary to comply with the law.

For the security of our Nation and to ensure immigrants get sound legal assistance, we must prevent the privatization of Immigration Information Officers, Contract Representatives, and Investigative Analysts.

I urge my colleagues to support the Roybal-Allard amendment.

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