- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

A Senate proposal requiring foreigners to carry identification cards is being praised by immigration reform proponents as long-overdue legislation and a needed protection against terrorist attacks.
"It would be criminal not to enact, at the very least, this initial proposal," said Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The legislation authored by Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, seeks to close immigration loopholes exploited by the terrorists who attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
The proposal requires thorough background checks for an immigrant to obtain an identification card, which would contain the immigrant's digitized fingerprints. Student and travel visas would be tracked through an automated system to alert law-enforcement officials when visits have been overstayed.
"This bill will boost our ability to identify, locate or remove foreigners who deliberately remain in this country long after their tourist or student visas expire," Mr. Bond said in introducing the bill Thursday.
The Center for Immigration Studies, which also endorses the legislation, commissioned a Zogby International poll to gauge public opinion of current immigration policies.
The nationwide poll of 1,018 likely voters showed 77 percent do not think the government is doing enough to control the border or screen foreign visitors.
The poll was taken Sept. 15 and 16 with a 3.2 percentage-point margin of error.
More than two-thirds of those polled said they strongly agree that lax enforcement made it easier for the terrorists to enter the country.
"These results don't necessarily mean the public has turned against immigrants or even immigration, but they do mean that the vast majority of Americans seem to feel that we have lost control of our borders," said Steven Camarota, the center's research director. "It's clear the public very much wants this to change."
The reform activists said the technology, called biometrics, is available to do background checks and track visitors.
"Too often this country has admitted people without knowing precisely who they are," Mr. Stein said. "Mr. Bond's legislation is an important initial step which we believe deserves the administration's support."
"To modify a twist on Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is here," said Mr. Stein, referring to Walt Kelly's cartoon character.
The new strategy of enforcement must move away from turning a blind eye toward illegal immigrants and those staying beyond their visas, Mr. Stein said.
"Business as usual can't continue. I can't see how anyone could watch what happened on September 11 and think we can keep doing what we are doing," Mr. Stein said.
Supporters say the system would not infringe on civil liberties and is not a national identification card.
"All we want to know is who you are and where you are," Mr. Stein said.
Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican and strong advocate of protections for civil liberties, also endorses the proposal, said spokesman Brian Walsh.
"Bob Barr would support such a proposal. If there are loopholes in the immigration system, and there certainly appears to be, Mr. Barr believes they should be closed immediately," Mr. Walsh said.
"He believes government must do a better job of assuring those visiting us are following our laws and not entering our borders under false pretenses," Mr. Walsh said.
Mr. Bond hopes to attach his measure to the anti-terrorism bill the Senate is expected to take up this week.
The House Judiciary Committee passed its compromise package last week, but the administration is asking Congress to scrap it in favor of the Senate version, which is closer to Attorney General John Ashcroft's original request.
The criticism angered Mr. Barr, who said House members worked hard to craft a compromise that did not sacrifice civil liberties and was passed unanimously by committee.
"While I may continue to disagree with the broad reach of many provisions in the legislation that go beyond addressing specific anti-terrorism needs, I will continue my efforts without abandoning the bill I ultimately supported in Committee," Mr. Barr said in a letter Friday to Mr. Ashcroft.
"I urge you to not abandon your commitment as reflected in the bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee to enact legislation that combats terrorism while still protecting civil liberties," Mr. Barr said.

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