- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Tucked quietly into the counterterrorism package that President Bush signed into law last week is a measure that could require foreigners to use identification cards to enter the United States.
A spokesman for Sen. Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, confirmed yesterday that his ID-card proposal was included in the legislation at the last minute before the House and Senate gave final approval to the overall bill.
The addition of the measure escaped the attention of the media and apparently many lawmakers as well. As proposed by Mr. Bond, the provision called for a foreigner's digitized fingerprint to be included on the identification card. But Bond spokesman Ernest Blazar said the law allows Attorney General John Ashcroft to decide on the best technology for fashioning the identification cards.
The new law, which gives federal agents broad new police powers to probe terrorism, does not require Mr. Ashcroft to implement the identification-card system. But it urges him to do so and appropriates whatever money the Justice Department would need to undertake the effort.
A bipartisan bill in the Senate would require the attorney general to take these steps. The proposal by Sens. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, and Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, would mandate the creation of a centralized, comprehensive database of visa holders and other noncitizens who enter the nation.
The Senate bill also would direct the Immigration and Naturalization Service to upgrade its own electronic data system to include biometric data such as fingerprint verification or iris recognition on all foreign nationals applying to enter the United States. It also would require countries wishing to participate in the visa-waiver program to provide tamper-resistant, machine-readable passports.
The counterterrorism law signed by Mr. Bush is designed to close visa loopholes exploited by terrorists in the September 11 attacks. Some terrorists were in the country on expired visas, and others entered the country on student visas but never showed up for school.
It requires thorough background checks for an immigrant to obtain an identification card. Student and travel visas will be tracked through an automated system to alert law-enforcement officials when visits have been overstayed.
Identification cards would be developed through "biometric" technology; the law also recommends production of "tamper-resistant" passports.
Mr. Bond's measure directs the secretary of state to review how consular officers issue visas to determine whether foreigners can go "consular shopping" to obtain one.
The overall legislation gives the Justice Department the authority to conduct wiretaps on all phones used by a suspected terrorist and allows it to detain immigrants suspected of terrorist activities for up to seven days without filing charges.
As Congress attempts to crack down on loopholes in immigration, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, renewed his call for a new Border Security Agency.
"It is clear that if we are going to secure our borders and protect our country, then we must end the Immigration and Naturalization Service as we know it and form a new agency that has the ability and the will to enforce the law," Mr. Tancredo said.
He said confusion arises from having INS, the Coast Guard and the Border Patrol all enforce the borders. Mr. Tancredo also said nearly 300,000 people who have been ordered deported by the INS "are currently not accounted for."


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