Jul 2 2002
Gekas Introduces Sweeping Immigration Reform Bill
Congressman George W. Gekas (R-Pa.), chairman, House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims, recently announced a new act aimed at creating massive immigration reform. The SAFER (Securing America's Future through Enforcement Reform) Act, if enacted into law, will create immense changes in present immigration policies. "Our immigration system is in desperate need of reform," Gekas said. "It is not just a matter, as some have claimed, of fixing the student visa program or the tourist visa program."
The SAFER Act calls for reform in six areas of immigration policy:
Securing the border
· Penalties against alien smugglers will be increased.
· The Border Patrol will be increased to more than 16,000 officers.
· The President will be enabled to use the military to supplement Border Patrol officers in protection against terrorists, drug smugglers and other illegal activities.
Tracking Aliens in the U.S.
· It will be required to track all aliens entering and leaving the U.S.
· The Foreign Student Tracking system will be required to be fully functional by January 2003. Schools will be further required to inform INS on courses taken by foreign students.
· All long-term visitors and residents will be required to be fingerprinted. Visitors and residents must also regularly register their locations with the INS.
· Bail bondspersons will be allowed to pursue violating nonimmigrants.
Screening Aliens Seeking Admission
· The number of INS inspection officers will be increased.
· The State Department will be required to hold in-person interviews with all visa applicants.
· All aliens will be required to have passports with biometric identifiers.
· Economic funding to research visa fraud will be increased.
· Schools wishing to recruit aliens will be subject to more rigorous screening processes.
Removing Alien Terrorists, Criminals and Human Rights Violators
· Aliens who are members of terrorist groups, support terrorism or provide funding for terrorist groups will be deported in a more speedy fashion.
· A more rigorous asylum process will be created to ensure terrorists can not receive asylum.
· Aliens convicted of murder, rape or sexual abuse of minors will be required to be deported.
· Human rights violators will not be allowed entry into the U.S. Human rights violaters, along with criminals, will also not be allowed to seek asylum in the U.S.
Enhancing Enforcement of the Immigration and Nationality Act in the Interior
· Documents such as birth certificates, drivers' licenses and Social Security cards will be made more resistant to counterfeit.
· The number of INS investigators will be increased.
· Overstaying a visa for more than six months will be a federal crime.
· The INS's power to detain aliens will be doubled.
· Immigration lawyers' ability to utilize abusive techniques in deportation proceedings will be minimized. Overzealous court reviews of deportation orders will also be minimized.
· Employers will be required to check new employees' social security numbers.
Reforming Legal Immigration
· An Office of Citizenship will be created within the INS to encourage the importance and meaning of naturalization.
· Visas will not be issued to individuals from nations known to be state sponsors of terrorism.
· Legal immigration levels will be minimized by roughly twenty percent.