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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, back in 2003, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, issued a report that revealed that suspected terrorists could stay in the country after their visas had been revoked on grounds of terrorism because of a legal loophole in the wording of revocation papers. The GAO shed light on a serious problem in our visa policies that posed a threat to our national security. The GAO found that many individuals were granted visas, but later, the FBI and intelligence community suspected ties of terrorism. The FBI didn't share the derogatory information with our consular officers in time. Consular officers had one tool at their disposal, and that was to revoke the visas. But, many of the individuals had made it to the United States.

What the GAO found was that even though the visas were revoked, immigration officials couldn't do a thing about it because the revocation didn't go into effect until after the alien departed. They were handicapped from locating the visa holders and deporting them. Today, our immigration agents may not be able to locate the individual even if they could deport them.

The GAO report opened our eyes and showed us how revocations were not being used effectively, and how terrorists could exploit a loophole to stay in the country. Since the GAO report was issued, I have attempted to plug this hole in the system. Today I am reintroducing a bill to give the Department of Homeland Security a critical tool that allows the Secretary to issue revocations and remove aliens from the United States without the hurdles they currently face.

Let me elaborate. Under current law, visas approved or denied by consular officers abroad are non-reviewable. We give our consular officers great latitude to protect the country and make a determination if an applicant is eligible for admission into the United States. This is known as consular non-reviewability. In 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 U.S. 537, determined that ``it is not within the province of any court, unless expressly authorized by law, to review the determination of the political branch of the Government to exclude a given alien.''

Justice Minton, in his decision, stated, ``At the outset we wish to point out that an alien who seeks admission to this country may not do so under any claim of right. Admission of aliens to the United States is a privilege granted by the sovereign United States Government. Such privilege is granted to an alien only upon such terms as the United States shall prescribe. It must be exercised in accordance with the procedure which the United States provides.''

The doctrine of non-reviewability is a long-standing one that allows the Department of State to keep foreign nationals from entering the United States. But, the doctrine should be applied in instances when a person is granted a visa, enters in the country, and the Government subsequently revokes that visa.

There are some national security implications at stake. The ability to deport an alien on U.S. soil with a revoked visa is nearly impossible today if the alien is given the opportunity to appeal the revocation. So, in effect, the State Department doesn't use their authority to revoke. In fact, I am told they aren't doing it at all when the alien, even a potential terrorist, is in the country. They need a change so that foreign nationals are not able to freely roam our communities when they shouldn't be here in the first place.

Secretary Chertoff, former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security agreed that the policy needed to be changed. When Secretary, he said,

The fact is that we can prevent someone who's coming in as a guest. We can say, ``You can't come in overseas,'' but once they come in, if they abuse their terms and conditions of their coming in, we have to go through a cumbersome process. That strikes me as not particularly sensible. People who are admitted as guests like guests in my house--if the guest misbehaves, I just tell them to leave; they don't get to go to court over it.

What's more, allowing judicial review of revoked visas, especially on terrorism grounds, could jeopardize the classified intelligence that led to the revocation. It can force agencies such as the FBI and CIA to be hesitant to share information. Why would our intelligence community share information with the State Department if they knew State wouldn't revoke a visa when the alien is in the U.S.? Current law could be reversing our progress on information sharing. Intelligence officials need to share information with immigration and consular officers to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and to impede their mobility.

My bill would give the U.S. Government the ability to expedite the deportation of suspected terrorists by applying the same ``non-reviewability'' standard for revocation decisions. It would treat revocations similar to visa denials. My bill gives the Federal Government the ability to deport an alien who has already entered the United States but shouldn't have ever been granted a visa.

Terrorists took advantage of our system before 9/11. We can't let that happen again. We should not allow potential terrorists and others who act counter to our laws to remain on U.S. soil and run to the courts and seek relief from deportation. We need to ensure that the government has all the tools at its disposal to keep the homeland safe.

I urge my colleagues to support my bill.

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, today I am reintroducing the Small Business Efficiency Act with my colleagues Senators Nelson, Portman, and Pryor. Many small businesses rely on Professional Employer Organization, PEOs, and to handle many of their human resources responsibilities. The Small Business Efficiency Act will provide an important layer of certainty and protection for small business owners and their workers by eliminating any ambiguity about a certified PEOs ability to assume employment tax responsibility. It further implements safeguards for the certified PEOs small business clients. This will give small businesses peace of mind that their human resources and employment tax responsibilities are taken care of so they can focus on their core business and create more jobs.

I urge my colleagues to support this common sense legislation.

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