House Immigration caucus pushes border-security bill

Seizing on immigration breaches that contributed to the September terrorist attacks, members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus on Thursday touted new legislation crafted to consolidate the management and enforcement of U.S. border security. Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, chairman of the caucus, unveiled the draft measure Wednesday. It seeks to consolidate the duties of several departments--including the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the State Department and the Customs Service--under one new federal agency dedicated to securing the nation's borders. Flanked by fellow caucus members, Virgil Goode, I-Va., and Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., Tancredo described how three different agencies hold responsibility for border security. "It's ridiculous," he said. "This overlapping of agencies has caused enormous problems." Tancredo said the measure also would create an "entry-exit" system for international visitors that would record their personal identifiers, such as fingerprints or biometric information. The bill also calls for a national system for electronically verifying work documents that are mandatory for immigrant employment in the United States. The lawmakers noted that several terrorists responsible for the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center had obtained legal entry to the United States but later were never monitored. "There needs to be more of a rationale in how we manage immigration," said Gutknecht. "Better technology" and better management of current INS resources will lead to a more effective system of immigration and border security. " If we employ the right technologies," he said, "we can easily keep track of people here on visas." On Wednesday, the House passed a bill, H.R. 3525, that would create new restrictions on visa holders and mandate reforms in immigration agencies. The bill would authorize $150 million to improve INS technology, and bolster security and screening procedures at borders and U.S. ports. It also would mandate new requirements for tracking foreign students and creating identification systems, and it would require law enforcement and intelligence agencies to make their data systems interoperable. Tancredo called the House measure and its Senate companion bill, S. 1749, a good "first step." But he argued that they lack a fundamental key to effective immigration reform: They would not combine the enforcement responsibility for the borders. "That is the basic problem here," Tancredo said, adding that jurisdictional conflicts prevented more of his bill's proposals from being included in other immigration measures. He also expressed opposition to the Justice Department's INS reform plans. Bruce Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hailed H.R. 3525 as a "reasonable and balanced approach" to security because it recognizes "the need for continuation of the trade and commerce that flows across our borders daily."
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.