SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE NEED TO IMPLEMENT WHTI TO PROTECT U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
JUNE 8, 2006
Serial No. 109117
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
DARRELL ISSA, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
STEVE KING, Iowa
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTOM FEENEY, Florida
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, Maryland
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSubcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana, Chairman
STEVE KING, Iowa
LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
DARRELL ISSA, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
ART ARTHUR, Counsel
ALLISON BEACH, Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
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C O N T E N T S
JUNE 8, 2006
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress from the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Ms. Janice L. Kephart, Principal and Managing Member, 9/11 Security Solutions, LLC
Mr. David Harris, Director, Insignis Strategic Research, Inc.
Mr. Paul Rosenzweig, acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMr. Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer, Travel Industry Association of America
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Louise M. Slaughter, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York
Letter from Corey P. Saylor, Government Affairs Director, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Prepared Statement of Business for Economic Security, Tourism & Trade (BESTT)
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Brian Higgins, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
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Prepared Statement of the Honorable Ted Poe, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas
THE NEED TO IMPLEMENT WHTI TO PROTECT U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY
THURSDAY, JUNE 8, 2006
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:37 a.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable John N. Hostettler (Chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
Until a few days ago, few among us were particularly aware that Canada hosts an abundance of terrorists and as many as 50 terrorist organizations. While this is new information to most of us, the Canadian press has been full of such stories for at least the past 6 years.
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Even as a highly regarded Canadian journalist authored three books on the topic of Canada's benign neglect of terrorists, all of which have been bestsellers in Canada, Americans have been preoccupied with the southwest border. It is to be expected that the visual phenomena of hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens crossing the arid Southwest, often in plain view of Border Patrol, and sometimes TV cameras as well, is something that captures the national attention.
But, today, we turn to our other borders, even more poorly guarded than the southwestern border. In fact, it is fair to say that the Canadian border is virtually unguarded. Canadians, as well as those who are imposters pretending to be Canadians or returning American tourists, roll through our border ports of entry with little or no document inspections.
In fact, there are many who continue to advocate that all those who claim to be Canadian and U.S. citizens should keep moving through the border checkpoints at 40 miles an hour or so. I don't agree with that point of view.
I hope the arrests in Canada of 17 jihadists, mostly home-grown, will cause the opponents of secure borders to reconsider, because the threat won't go away soon. It is important to understand that we are dealing with terrorists who don't appear to their neighbors or family members to be terrorists.
Very much like the London subway bombers, they appear to be nice young men, who have good manners. According to Canadian news accounts published over the past few days, those arrests included recent converts to Islam, as well as five juveniles.
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Some Canadian police officials describe the subjects as being from across the strata of society. If they are typical of many Canadian first- and second-generation immigrants, then the arrests demonstrate an unsuccessful adoption of traditional Canadian values, or at least a lack of assimilation by many north of the U.S. border.
I expect we all know that cultural assimilation in Canada, or in the United States, is much more than learning the English language. South Toronto, like those parts of London that are host to the radical imams who influenced the 9/11 terrorists and the shoe bomber has people who adhere to a militant understanding of Islam.
Toronto has a very large South Asian community, and the oldest man among those arrested, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, is the imam of the Al Rahman Koran Learning Center, a local mosque. Although the Canadian authorities have not provided details of the proceeding investigation, news accounts state that some of the group have been under surveillance since 2004.
And we need to acknowledge that we are dealing with terrorists on both sides of the border. While the Canadian Mounties already had their local terrorists under investigation, the Canadian arrests were connected to intelligence gained by the FBI during the investigation and eventual arrest of two young jihadists resident in the United States, one of whom had gone to high school in Canada before moving here.
I do believe we in the United States have a much more clear focus on the problem of terrorism and have moved beyond denial that our own citizens are capable of terrorism. That doesn't seem to be the case north of the border.
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The brother of one of the men arrested was quoted this week in the Canadian Press newspaper as saying, ''He is not a terrorist. Come on. He is a Canadian citizen.''
Let us look at a few details of the violent acts the arrested Canadian citizens are reported to have planned. According to Gary Batasar, the lawyer for Steven Chand, Canadian prosecutors had provided an eight-page summary of the charges against his client and 16 other men arrested last week.
These charges included ''plotting to storm the parliament buildings, take hostages, make demands to remove Canadian troops from Afghanistan and to free Muslim prisoners, planning to behead hostages if his demands weren't met and to behead the prime minister. The last thing was that they were going to storm the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's building downtown in Toronto to take over communications to broadcast their message.''
Police said the men were planning to build a simple but effective bomb, using fertilizer and diesel fuel, and were in an advanced stage of planning two attacks: a truck bombing to destroy a significant building and an attack involving opening fire on a crowded public place.
It was reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Harper was laughing off the alleged assassination plot. It is too bad that his public statements recently about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative also appear to laugh off the U.S. Government's intent to improve the security of all our borders, that with Canada no less than the others.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For example, it was recently reported in the context of meetings between Canadian Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and our Secretary Chertoff that Canadian and U.S. officials are working on a third alternative, neither passport nor national I.D. card that would allow Canadians to move freely into the United States after the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative's more stringent rules come into place.
In fact, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said he has received assurances from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that an alternative Canadian document, as yet to be determined, would be acceptable. Maybe that is why Prime Minister Harper appears so lighthearted with regard to the WHTI. He knows something that we don't about the Administration's plans.
If we needed a clear case for why there needs to be a dramatic increase in security along the northern border, and that means an uncompromising implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative at the earliest date possible, the example of this past week's terrorist arrests in Toronto is very dramatic.
With the 12 million or more illegal aliens resident in the United States, many of them carrying valid driver's licenses, it is clear that at least at the border, we need to authenticate who is a U.S. citizen and who is not before letting people re-enter the United States. And no lower standard should be set for Canadian citizens who wish to enter the United States.
At this time, if any other Members of the panel have an opening statement, I would be glad towithout objection, all Members' opening statements will be made a part of the record.
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At this time, the Subcommittee will take a short recess to vote on a number of provisions in the House of Representatives, and we will return subsequently to reconvene the hearing. We are recessed.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order.
I want to thank the panel of witnesses for your indulgence as we have interrupted the hearing for the votes.
I would like to now introduce our panel.
Janice Kephart is a nationally recognized border security expert, specializing in the nexus between immigration and counterterrorism issues. She provided text, substantive footnotes and developed key recommendations on border security, along with her teammates, that appear in the 9/11 Commission's final report, and is the key author of the 9/11 Commission's staff report, ''9/11 and Terrorist Travel.'' Prior to her work on the commission, Ms. Kephart served as counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Government Information.
David Harris is director of Insignis Strategic Research, Incorporated, a counterterrorism, national security and international risk analysis consulting group. He has trained police, military and other security personnel in intelligence collection and analysis. Mr. Harris is also active in academia, lecturing occasionally in national security and intelligence policy and defense policy at the Carleton University School of Public Administration's graduate program. He is the former chief of strategic planning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
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In his position as counselor for the assistant secretary for the policy directorate and acting assistant secretary for policy development at the United States Department of Homeland Security, Paul Rosenzweig has responsibility for developing policy, strategic plans and international approaches on homeland security issues, including border security and immigration issues. Mr. Rosenzweig is also an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. He serves on the editorial board of the ''Journal of National Security Law and Policy'' and the District of Columbia Bar Legal Ethics Committee.
Roger Dow is president and chief executive officer of the Travel Industry Association of America, or TIA, a position he assumed on January 1, 2005, with 2,000 organizations as members. TIA is the national umbrella organization that represents and speaks for all segments of the $600 billion U.S. travel and tourism industry in promoting and facilitating increased travel to and within the United States.
Prior to joining TIA, Mr. Dow was senior vice president, global and field sales, for Marriott International, leading Marriott's 10,000-person worldwide sales organization. He worked for that company for 34 years. Mr. Dow also served his country in Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star, among other citations, for his duties with the 101st Airborne Division.
As is customary with the Committee, I will ask the witnesses to please rise and take the oath.
And raise your right hands. Thank you. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before the Subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
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Thank you. You may be seated.
Please let the record reflect that the witnesses responded in the affirmative.
Once again, thank you for being here today. You will notice a series of lights in front of you. Without objection, your entire written statement will be made a part of the record, and if you can keep your opening statements, oral opening statements, as close to 5 minutes, it would be greatly appreciated.
Ms. Kephart, you are recognized.
TESTIMONY OF JANICE L. KEPHART, PRINCIPAL AND MANAGING MEMBER, 9/11 SECURITY SOLUTIONS, LLC
Ms. KEPHART. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler, for having me here today. I very much appreciate your interest in assuring that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, otherwise known as WHTI, gets implemented in a timely manner. As we begin our discussion today, we need to retrace our steps as to why WHTI was passed into law in the first place and the national security threat it seeks to mitigate.
What is that threat? It is quite simple, really. It evolved from the intense 14-month investigation of the 9/11 Commission border team, with whom I was so lucky to serve. The threat is simply this: that most often, terrorists must cross and travel over borders to conduct their operations. To do so, they exploit any loophole in a border apparatus they can.
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An extremely large loophole that still exists today here in the U.S., and which WHTI seeks to close, is the policy and practices that permit anyone claiming to be from the Western hemisphere to present easily forged documents, or nothing at all, to enter the U.S. The most commonly used documents include a birth certificate, thousands of varieties; a driver's license, over 200 varieties in the U.S.; or, as is the case with 40 percent of Canadians that pass over our land borders, absolutely nothing.
We know birth certificates and driver's licenses are highly subject to fraud. D.C. sniper John Lee Muhammad and LAX millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam both made their living on stealing, making, selling fake U.S. or Canadian documents prior to coming to the U.S. for their criminal acts.
And we know that document forgers are rampant in the U.S. A story in yesterday's Seattle Post, for example, describes a brazen document forger who makes his living in that city off of fake driver's licenses and other U.S. documents but, interestingly enough, not passports.
While no travel document is perfect, passports have features other documents do not. They denote citizenship. They can be vetted through criminal and terror watch lists and alerts. National records are maintained of the passports' owners, so reported lost and stolen passports can be better tracked internationally. And they have particular security features more difficult to forge.
From the terrorist's vantage point, why bother with acquiring a lost or stolen passport to get into the U.S., when you can simply buy a driver's license off the street that will get you across the borders just fine. To the terrorists, the U.S. makes entry at Canadian and other land ports of entry easy, so why not take advantage of it?
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Let me be clear, though, as I have been in previous testimony on the subject, that assuring facilitation of trade and tourism is important. As WHTI is currently envisioned, it will finally allow border inspectors to focus on high-risk travelers, while low-risk travelers can get streamlined and efficient processing, if they seek to do so.
This waysecurity and facilitation equally, providing the balance the two policy objectives should. And where does a terrorist end up with WHTI? With a difficult choice. Under WHTI, the terrorist can no longer present an unauthenticated document containing unverifiable information. Instead, the terrorist must choose, risk getting caught by attempting an illegal entry, or risk being detected by U.S. authorities at the border, presenting a passport.
WHTI makes it more likely the terrorists will expose themselves to authorities, and thus gives the American people a better chance at staying safe and keeping foreign terrorists who want to blow up significant buildings and chop off heads as stated in yesterday's stories about the 17 arrested in Toronto, out of the United States.
So this brings us to the next question: Are the 17 from Toronto the be all, end all, of threats from Canada? No. CSIS, the Canadian intelligence agency, tells us that Canada has a significant terrorist community, about 50 terror organizations actively operating there, and about 350 individuals being actively watched. And, according to Jack Cooper, CSIS's deputy director today, Canada's problem is growing.
Only 17 were caught in Canada last weekend, and we don't even know if they were some of the 350 Canadian intelligence already knew about. Terrorist financing more than doubled in Canada last year, to the tune of $2 billion. Canadian anti-terror legislation passed after 9/11 is not retroactive and, until this past weekend, had only one indictment.
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Therefore, those Canadians trained in Afghan camps prior to 9/11 remain at large. We know that the FBI seeks out a number of naturalized Canadian citizens that have $5 million bounties on them. For example, Abdul Rachman Judai, originally slated to participate in the 9/11 plot and, when he dropped out, to be part of a second wave of attacks, is wanted today. And there was also Amir al-Maati, a trained pilot and Canadian citizen who has vowed to crash a plane into a U.S. building.
And then from south of the border, we have significant issues with alien smuggling, document forgery and bastions of known terrorist activity and support in the Caribbean and throughout South America for terrorist activity.
The point is, we don't want these people to get into the U.S. We want to see them found. With WHTI in place, terrorists and criminals are less likely to try and get in, and, if they do, we are more likely to catch them. That means what the American people end up with is both security and facilitation, and the terrorists have a harder time traveling to carry out their missions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Kephart follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JANICE L. KEPHART
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Ms. Kephart.
TESTIMONY OF DAVID HARRIS, DIRECTOR, INSIGNIS STRATEGIC RESEARCH, INC.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you, Chairman Hostettler. I would also like to thank, if I may, the
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Harris, could you pull the microphone a little closer to you there?
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good.
Mr. HARRIS. I would thank the Subcommittee and also, of course, would like to thank the Canadian Coalition for Democracies that has sponsored me. I am a senior fellow for terrorism and national security with that organization.
In a previous appearance before this Subcommittee, shortly before 9/11, I cautioned that much would have to be done to fight Canada's drift into terror-haven status. Six years later, albeit with some refinements, including the Anti-Terrorism Act, Canada is heavily infiltrated by terrorists. Canada is a recruiting, planning, financing and launch point for international terrorism, and Canada is most certainly a target of terrorism.
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Now, with particular reference to our leading terror threat, Islamic extremism, I will suggest why this has come about and note the glimmer of hope that has recently emerged.
In 1998, the CSIS director testified before Canada's Senate that 50 terror organizations, including the world's most notorious, were present in Canada. In terms of numbers of terror groups, this made us number two in the world, after the United States.
By 9/11, the previous 20 years had transformed Canada from a terrorist backwater to a significant piece on terror's international chessboard. Testifying before a Canadian Senate committee, a CSIS official referred to in earlier testimony, last week warned of Canadian residents who are ''graduates of terrorist training camps and campaigns, including experienced combatants from conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere.''
And he added that Canadian citizens or residents have been implicated in terrorist attacks and conspiracies elsewhere in the world. He referred to the young man, Mr. Khawaja, in Ottawa, who is the first to be charged under the new Anti-Terrorism Act legislation, a case that promises to draw world attention for its implications.
''Others,'' said the deputy director of CSIS, ''have been involved in plots against targets in the United States, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Singapore, Pakistan and other countries.'' The examples are many. We have heard of the group Fatah Kamel. That helped make Montreal the hub of international GIA Algerian Islamic terrorist activity.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Even as a failed refugee claimant, GIA terrorist and group Fatah Kamel member Ahmed Ressam, of course, had prowled Canada, using false I.D. An alert American border guard in 1999 was the only obstacle between Ressam's explosives-packed car at the Canadian frontier and devastation at his target, L.A. International Airport. 9/11 would have come early.
Canada's immigration and refugee system has been a big part of the problem. In per capita terms, Canada takes in double the number of immigrants and three or four times the number of refugees as the United States. Canada cannot effectively, in my respectful view, screen and integrate such numbers, and we have seen the proof. Sober minds regard the immigration system as largely a corrupt vote-importing scheme.
But the problem has gone well beyond immigration and is metastasizing into the terrible phenomenon of home-grown terror. This term, of course, refers to longstanding Canadian residents and citizens who have turned traitor and marked their neighbors and society for death. The chilling possibilities emerged since Friday's massive police raids in the Toronto area, and these netted youthful Muslims who allegedly had three times as much ammonium nitrate fertilizer as was used in the Oklahoma City blast.
The Toronto detainees were Canadian residents and, for the most part, apparently Canadian citizens. Saudi money, Saudi-trained and inspired clerics, the Internet and other things, seem to help contribute to the risk of turning some Muslim youth against their fellow Canadians.
There are questionable organizations, like the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR-Canada, a chapter of the controversial Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, that have alienated many moderate Muslims with unreliable statistics and breathless allegations of anti-Muslim behavior.
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In light of recent arrests, CAIR-Canada has apparently embarked now on a charm offensive. But 6 years after 9/11, it has yet to condemn publicly, by name, certain Islamic terrorist groups, not even Hezbollah, which has reliably said to have done targeting reconnaisance on Canadian sites.
We know that, at the operational level, there is great respect and cooperation between American and Canadian agencies and services. Political leadership, however, in Canada has been another story, and this goes far to explain our malaise.
For 13 years, the Liberal Party of Canada has been in power, playing up to, rather than mastering, radical interests. As finance minister, Mr. Paul Martin, later prime minister, attended with another cabinet minister a fundraising dinner put on by a Tamil Tigers terrorist front. There is concern that such groups have considerable political influence through increasing numbers and demographic shifts.
But now, for just over 100 days, the Conservative Party has been in power and there are signs of improvement. Although constrained by their minority-government status, the new government has acted decisively to ban the Tamil Tigers, bringing us into line with other jurisdictions. And the evidence is that the government is constructively releasing information about current risks to Canada, rather than denying it or hiding for fear of antagonizing terrorist-sympathetic voting blocs.
I will leave it at thatthank you, Mr. Chairmanand stand by for questions.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Harris follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID HARRIS
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
TESTIMONY OF PAUL ROSENZWEIG, ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for the opportunity to discuss with you today the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Let me remind you of its background to frame our conversation.
Under current regulations, U.S. citizens and most Canadians and Bermudians who travel solely within the Western hemisphere do not require passports or any other specific documents to enter the United States. This is frequently referred to as the Western hemisphere loophole.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our initiative is a plan to close that loophole and satisfy the legislative mandates of IRCBA. The plan will require U.S. citizens and those Canadians, Bermudians and Mexican citizens currently exempt from the passport requirement to have a passport or other authorized, secure documentation denoting citizenship and identity when entering the United States.
The security rationale for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is robust and yet often unheard, particularly in regards to our northern border.
Perhaps most obviously, access to our nation is critical for a terrorist to plan and carry out an attack on the homeland. As the 9/11 Commission's final report says, for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels to present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points. This last is critical.
From this, we know that there are certain moments when terrorists must surface if they wish to enter a country legally. Recurring opportunities to catch terrorists are rare, yet the process we follow to screen individuals who wish to enter the United States presents just such a limited opportunity. And our focus in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is leveraging that opportunity.
Currently, DHS officers cannot fully capitalize on the opportunity because of the loophole, which allows travelers to enter the United States without documentation. Clearly, to protect our border, we must be able to inspect those who seek to cross it.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Right now, the system is not set up to our advantage, and we ought to make the system work for us. And we also ought to be grateful for the legislative tools that you have provided us that have motivated us to make these changes.
It is an enormous challenge. We have over 7,000 miles of shared border with Canada and Mexico. Each day, DHS and CBP officers inspect more than 1.1 million people. In fiscal year 2005, over 84,000 individuals were apprehended at ports of entry, trying to cross with fraudulent claims of citizenship or documents.
On an average dayan average dayCBP intercepts more than 200 fraudulent documents, arrests more than 60 people and refuses entry to hundreds, and all this accomplished with a system that allows individuals to either make verbal claims to citizenship or present a myriad of identification documents.
CBP officers may be presented with over 8,000 different types of birth certificates, 50-plus varieties of State-issued driver's licenses, a variety of baptismal certificates, naturalization certificates. The list goes on.
They also look at dozens of foreign driver's licenses and foreign certificates. Frankly, many of these documents are illegible or unverifiable. These combined factors create a tremendous potential for fraud, and the system must change.
We need to limit the number of documents that are accepted and allow our inspectors to zero in on individuals who present the greatest threat to our country.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Some compare crossing the border with Canada and the United States to crossing the Potomac, and we agree wholeheartedly that we share a very close relationship with our Canadian neighbors, culturally and economically.
Yet we are two distinct countries that share similar values and have diverse populations, different immigration laws and different approaches. I think it is worth sharing with you the Canadian government's own assessment of the border.
The Canadian Senate Committee on National Security, in June 2005, said, ''The border presents a rare opportunity for society, through government, to monitor and assess who and what comes and goes. Border crossings provide border inspectors a chance to go eye to eye with those individuals intent on causing harm. It isn't a perfect opportunity, but it allows trained officers to scrutinize border crossers. This opportunity should not be squandered.'' I couldn't agree more.
The initiative will help us reduce this vulnerability, whereas maintaining the status quo leaves a wide gap in our security. It is rarely recognized, but, as has already been discussed, both Canadian and U.S. agencies have acknowledged that there are terror groups operating in both of our countries. Besides Al Qaida, these include Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Shia groups, Hamas, Palestinian Force; the list goes on.
Indeed, while most of the public attention has been focused lately on individuals crossing to the southwest border from Mexico, we have empirical evidence that our northern border is being significantly tested. Our operational data show that in the land environment, the northern border has five times as many positive terrorist watch list matches as the southern border. To put that in context, and to be fair, both land borders trail our air borders with respect to such matches.
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In addition to these threats from foreigners, the threat of home-grown terrorists is now a security issue as well, as is illustrated so poignantly by the arrests of 17 Canadian citizens in Toronto last week.
Let me speak to next steps, briefly. We need to develop a system of layers to protect our country. We cannot create new vulnerabilities. And this is particularly true as we move forward to implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
For example, recent proposals for specific documents for infrequent travelers, commonly referred to as day passes, must be evaluated very carefully. We agree that a plan to deal with these travelers must be in place, but we must structure it properly through a rulemaking process.
Frankly, infrequent travelers often pose a greater security risk since we usually know so little about their background, travel history, itinerary or purpose. And since we must issue documents that denote identity and citizenship, it is potentially a risk to consider on-the-spot issuance of such documents to travelers.
Mr. Chairman, I believe I have run over my time. I will stop there and look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Rosenzweig follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PAUL ROSENZWEIG
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Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee, and other distinguished Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to discuss how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the Department of State (DoS), is working to thwart terrorist travel by strengthening documentation requirements for travel in the western hemisphere. The security rationale for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is robust, and yet often unheard, particularly in regards to United States and Canadian citizens. Although secure travel for all of the Western Hemisphere is critical, we will focus here on the need for documentation for U.S. and Canadian citizens, because almost all other citizens (most Mexicans for example) are already required to present secure documentation at our borders that denotes identity and citizenship (such as a U.S. issued Border Crossing Card or visa as required for Mexicans).
Access to our nation is critical for a terrorist to plan and to carry out attacks on our homeland. As the 9/11 Commission's Final Report states, ''For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. Terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack. To them, international travel presents great danger, because they must surface to pass through regulated channels to present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.''(see footnote 1)
Travelers by land are not, however, uniformly subjected to Government prescreening checks (such as the No Fly and Advance Passenger Manifest System checks) made when individuals travel by air or sea. DHS officers cannot fully capitalize on this opportunity because of the current standards for traveling within the Western Hemisphere, which allow certain travelers (those who claim to be U.S. citizens, most Canadians, Bermudians, and some Mexicans) to enter the United States without documents proving citizenship or nationality.
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The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, through its requirement that individuals carry a passport or other acceptable document(s), will greatly reduce the opportunities for fraud or misrepresentation of one's true identity. Advanced technology imbedded in these travel documents with appropriate privacy protections will allow real time checks against terrorist and immigration databases. This automation will allow DHS to more effectively leverage our immigration systemspecifically, the requirement for terrorists to ''surface to pass through regulated channels to present themselves to border officials.''(see footnote 2) Clearly, to protect our border, we must be able to inspect those who seek to cross it. Through WHTI, we have an opportunity to increase security not only for the U.S., but for the rest of the Western Hemisphere as well.
This is an enormous challenge. We have over 7,000 miles of shared borders with Canada and Mexico, and each day DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers inspect more than 1.1 million passengers and pedestrians. In Fiscal Year 2005, over 84,000 individuals were apprehended at the ports of entry trying to cross the border with fraudulent claims of citizenship or documents. Moreover, on an average day, CBP intercepts more than 200 fraudulent documents, arrests over sixty people at ports of entry, and refuses entry to hundreds of non-citizens, a few dozen of whom are criminal aliens.
At major ports of entry in particular, CBP inspectors face an enormous volume of travelers attempting to cross our borders, the vast majority of whom are legitimate. However, a DHS officer is today faced with either assessing an oral claim to citizenship, or scrutinizing the myriad forms of identification currently accepteda time-consuming and challenging task. The number and types of documentation currently acceptedoften a driver's license or birth certificateare prone to counterfeiting and fraud and are obtainable by terrorists and other dangerous persons who wish to enter our country illegally. In addition, currently, over 8,000 different types of documentation are presented by travelers to CBP officers. Limiting the number and type of documents accepted will help our inspectors identify individuals who present the greatest threat to our country. Maintaining the flow of commerce is critical, but we must also be confident in our determinations of who is crossing our border.
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OPPORTUNITIES AT INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARIES
It is important to bear in mind, when discussing our border with Canada, that it is a truly international boundary. We enjoy a very close relationship with our Canadian neighbors, culturally and economically. We were particularly grateful for the very close cooperation and coordination that occurred between Canada and the U.S. regarding their arrests of suspected terrorists last week. Yet we are two distinct countries that share similar values but have diverse populations and have historically employed different immigration laws.
In March 2005, President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada, and President Vicente Fox of Mexico unveiled a blueprint for a safer and more prosperous North America when they announced the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) in Waco, TX. There, ''they agreed on ambitious security and prosperity agendas to keep our borders closed to terrorists and open to trade. The SPP is based on the premise that security and our economic prosperity are mutually reinforcing, and recognizes that our three great nations are bound by a shared belief in freedom, economic opportunity, and strong democratic institutions.
Guided by a Leaders Statement and Action Plans on Security and Prosperity, Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers convened trilateral working groups to develop concrete work plans and specific timetables for securing North America and ensuring legitimate travelers and cargo efficiently cross our shared borders; enhancing the competitive position of North American industries in the global marketplace; and, providing greater economic opportunities for all of our societies while maintaining high standards of health and safety.''(see footnote 3)
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Although much work remains, it is important to recognize the work accomplished through the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Through the SPP, the Canadian and Mexican governments are working with us to identify best practices for screening travelers to North America and vetting those who wish to remain for permanent residence or citizenship in North America. In particular, we are working with Canadian authorities under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America on setting common standards for documentation that may be used to cross our common border.
EXTREMISTS EXPLOITING THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
We greatly appreciate the outstanding cooperation between the United States and Canada in working to secure our common border. However, even as we work together to strengthen our borders, we are still faced with many challenges at home and at our borders. This is true in the United States, Canada, Mexico and our other Western Hemisphere neighbors.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Deputy Director Jack Hooper recently informed a Canadian Senate national security committee that CSIS lacks the resources to vet a significant portion of the immigration cases referred to it. Mr. Hooper specifically noted that approximately 20,000 immigrants have come to Canada from the Afghanistan/Pakistan region since 2001.
Some extremists have demonstrated the ability to blend into a number of the large communities existing in major U.S. and Canadian cities. From such locations, extremists can conduct fundraising and other support activities, including proselytizing extremist ideals to segments of the youth population that they find susceptible.
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In 2004, CSIS reported that terrorist representatives were actively raising money, procuring weapons, ''manipulating immigrant communities'' and facilitating travel to and from the United States and other countries. Besides al-Qaida, groups mentioned by CSIS include: Islamic Jihad; Hezbollah and other Shiite groups; Hamas; the Palestinian Force 17; Egyptian Al Jihad and various other Sunni groups from across the Middle East. CSIS has said the Irish Republican Army, Tamil Tigers and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and major Sikh terrorist groups also have supporters in Canada.(see footnote 4)
The Government of Canada has shown that it is taking strong action to protect itself which also helps protect our citizens. Also, as with our own situation, the vast majority of persons who immigrate to Canada are law-abiding, simply seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
As populations increasingly mix and extremists recruit native-born youth and converts, travel documents become even more critical in identifying terrorists. Travel documents and travel patterns can provide inspectors with terrorist indicatorssometimes the only clue the government will receive.
EFFECTIVELY USING THE BORDERA NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITY
Border security is a cornerstone of national security and as President Bush and Secretary Chertoff's creation of the Secure Border Initiative and allocations of resources for border security demonstrate, the Administration considers securing the border a top priority. If we are to protect our homeland from terrorist attacks, we must use all of the tools at our disposal.
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The Canadian Senate Committee on National Security and Defense has also recognized the opportunity at the border. In their 2005 report they stated, '''The border' represents a rare opportunity for society, through government, to monitor and assess who and what comes and goes. It should not be wasted. . . . Border crossings provide border inspectors a chance to go eye-to-eye with those individuals intent on causing harm. It isn't a perfect opportunity . . . but it does allow trained officers to scrutinize [border crossers]. This opportunity should not be squandered.''(see footnote 5)
Our international borders are extremely well runso well run that they have been mistaken for much less than they areour first line of defense. Some travelers have become used to crossing the border without identificationsomething that is done nowhere else in the world and a security vulnerability. We have an opportunity to install a system that will work to thwart individuals who intend to attack our citizens and our infrastructure. The WHTI will help make us safer. We are grateful to Congress given its legislative work in this area.
The WHTI will require all travelers to present secure documentation when crossing our border and will significantly increase security. It is important to bear in mind, however, that security and commerce are not exclusive of each other. In fact, standardized and automated travel documents will enable us to quickly, reliably, and accurately identify a traveler and his or her citizenship without having to review an assortment of documents and pursue a line of questioning to determine who the person is; this will facilitate the entry of travelers. To leverage this facilitation potential, DHS and DOS are developing plans to produce an alternative form of the U.S. passport for use at land border crossings. DHS and DOS realize that a traditional passport book may not be the most convenient or effective form of documentation for land border use, particularly for frequent crossers. Therefore, Secretary Chertoff and Secretary Rice jointly announced a proposed travel card for U.S. citizens. The DOS-issued travel card is envisioned as wallet-sized and convenient to obtain, costing the bearer substantially less than a traditional passport. DOS will determine eligibility for the passport card in the same way that it determines eligibility for the traditional book passport. The card will contain security features and will use technology to link the identity and citizenship of the bearer to a U.S. government database in a privacy protective manner.
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Because of the need to ensure that frequent crossers and residents of border communities can obtain necessary documents to ensure continued cross-border travel, we are also reviewing a variety of document options for these travelers. In addition to the passport book and card which are authorized under law, we are also reviewing the Border Crossing Cards (BCCs) for Mexican citizens, and the expansion of ''trusted traveler'' programs, which would expedite low-risk travelers, particularly those who reside in border communities and make frequent trips across the border as a routine part of their daily lives.
Existing ''trusted traveler'' programs are also being evaluated for expanded use at our land borders. These include the NEXUS, Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI), and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) programs. These programs facilitate the crossing of low-risk, frequent travelers and commercial truck drivers at the land borders through exclusive, dedicated lanes.
THE WAY FORWARD
As we discuss options for alternative documentation consistent with our statutory mandate, we must not create new loopholes that could be exploited to undermine our border security. In particular, proposals for specific documents for infrequent travelers must be evaluated carefully. These travelers often pose a greater security risk since we know so little about their background, travel history, itinerary, or purpose for travel. Since the requirements of the statute are for documents denoting identity and citizenship, it is potentially a great risk to consider any sort of ''on-the-spot'' issuance of identity and citizenship documents to these travelers. At the same time, we understand that there are significant travel, trade, and tourism concerns associated with spontaneous travel and we will continue to assess these issues.
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The WHTI will be implemented in two phases: first in the air and sea environments by 2007; and second, along the land borders by 2008. Completing this task on time as required by law will deliver significantly stronger security for the Homeland.
The United States and its Western Hemisphere neighbors continue to work together, sharing information and improving their security systems. Canada, in particular, has made significant strides recently, including the recent arrests of the suspected terrorists. Additionally, since December 2005, the Canadian court system has cleared the way for several successful and important Canadian-related terrorism cases to proceed. This progress is encouraging and we continue to move in the right direction of increasing identity document security, increasing information sharing, and deploying the necessary resources to protect our border. However, we must not become lax in our efforts and we need to complement these advances with smarter, more efficient and more secure document controls at the border.
I will close by echoing the Canadian Senate's sentiment that, ''These [land border] crossings represent each country's last, best chance to scrutinize persons and cargo that should not be entering each other's territory.''(see footnote 6) Strong borders are a pillar of national security, and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a cornerstone of border security.
The Administration will continue to work with Canada and Mexico, and our other Western Hemisphere neighbors, to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Rosenzweig.
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TESTIMONY OF ROGER DOW, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TRAVEL INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
Mr. DOW. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it, and Members of the Committee, I appreciate the time to address an issue that is of great importance to the U.S. travel industry. As you stated, I am head of the Travel Industry Association of America, but I also represent our strategic partner, the Travel Business Roundtable.
The U.S. travel industry is one of the largest retail sectors of our economy, employing 7 million U.S. citizens. The travel and tourism industry has a major presence in all 50 States and 435 congressional districts.
Just for the Members of the 16 congressional districts represented by this Committee, the travel and tourism industry represents $19 billion in travel expenditures, $5.3 billion in payroll and over a quarter of a million jobs. Nationally, we roll up to $650 billion in revenue, and $100 billion of that comes from outside the United States.
Regarding the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, there has never been a question of why to implement this change or if it should be done. We totally support that. We strongly agree that customers and border protection officers should be in a position to examine fewer and more reliable travel documents for those entering and traveling in the Western hemisphere.
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That said, there are two very critical things we should consider: one, when to implement the new travel document requirements and how to carry out this mandate.
We have 14 million visitors from Canada, which makes it the largest international travel market. It is growing, while other international markets have been shrinking in recent years. It is so important to get the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative right and much more important than trying to rush to a market solution that may not work and that may cause a lot of confusion among travelers.
The recent issue of the deadline and the possible extension, the U.S. travel industry supports the legislative extension of the current deadline, because we need towe certainly believe that the Federal Government cannot meet the WHTI deadline in time.
This is very similar to the recent requirement for the extension of the deadline of the biometric passports. Now, just as then, we seek a reasonable extension, not an indefinite delay. The Committee supported the extension of biometric passports, and we ask that they thoughtfully consider the same thing in this case.
Because extension alone is not a solution, TIA and TBR and others lay out many recommendations, which we have done in letters, congressional testimony and filings. I would like to highlight a few things that we advocate in addition to a single, unified document.
First, the creation of a single document for all ports and all modes of travel, to avoid traveler confusion that may lead to canceled trips.
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Second, development of a low-cost, secure alternative to the passport that is convenient and done in full cooperation with the Canadian government.
Next, explore a possible use of the States' driver licenses under provisions of Real I.D., and examining how citizenship status can be included on a much more secure and consistent driver's license.
Absent a program to create a low-cost alternative travel document, Congress should authorize appropriate funds to permit the U.S. State Department to issue discounted U.S. passports. It is clearly important that we get passports in the hands of travelers.
Lastly, one key policy decisiononce these key policy decisions are finalized, it is essential that the government launch a massive public information campaign aimed at travelers. The travel industry will use our resources to help support and help get that word out, because it is critical to have a consistent message.
Travelers are now making their purchase decisions for 2007. This is especially true for cruise lines, where only half of the cruise ship passengers presently carry a passport. The question is, what will happen less than 7 months from now on January 1, 2007? Travelers need certainty. They need reliable information to help make purchasing decisions.
Finally, let me address the recent events that occurred in Canada. The recent arrests in Canada of the suspected terrorists highlight the need for intensified law enforcement and intelligence-sharing by U.S., Canada and others. Cooperation and information-sharing we can only presume surrounded the recent arrests and argues for greater U.S.-Canada cooperation and the use of driver's licenses, pass cards and passports that are very secure and consistent for border crossing.
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In closing, the U.S. travel industry wants to be a full and complete partner in reaching this critical decision. And it is fully important that we secure our borders and enhance travel in our economy, and both are not mutually exclusive.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dow follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF ROGER DOW
[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file for complete hearing record.]
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Dow.
At this time, we will turn to questions from the panel.
First of all, Ms. Kephart, are you aware of any identity document in Canada, other than a passport, which would provide an equivalent level of verification of citizenship status and would be as secure as a passport?
Ms. KEPHART. I can't imagine what would be. Mr. Harris would be more familiar with what kinds of documents are available in Canada.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC However, the internationally recognized travel document around the world is the passport. The passport has the security features, it is run against databases, et cetera.
What that means for the terrorist is a terrorist has to choose, if you have WHTI in place, between going to a passport office and applying for a passport in Canada or not and trying to come in illegally. It forces them into a corner.
So whatever else might be out there, it is not going to be as secure a choice for us as the passport would be.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. So you wouldn't have any idea of what other type of document Canadian officials are talking about when they suggest in press accounts that they are not concerned about the WHTI?
Ms. KEPHART. From my understanding, there have not been alternatives put forward by the Canadian government to deal with the issue at this point. But Mr. Harris might be able to answer that.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good.
Mr. Harris, would you be able to?
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you. I am not aware of any alternatives, although I do know
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. Could you
Mr. HARRIS. Sorry. I am not aware of any alternatives, although I do know that the focus has predictably been on the passport possibility because of its universal nature and the whole issue of data checking and so forth. So I think the passport would be the focus.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good.
Mr. Rosenzweig, as we mentioned, Canadian officials have made some public statements that they have no plans to issue a Canadian pass card like the one planned for U.S. citizens, because they claim that Secretary Chertoff has told them U.S. inspectors will accept other Canadian documents.
Is that true or do you know of a deal that we are unfamiliar with here in Congress that has been struck?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I have been in this town many years, Mr. Chairman, and I think the only thing I am certain of is that all press accounts should not be treated as holy writ. I personally participated in the meetings between Secretary Chertoff and Minister Day, and the Secretary made no secret deals.
I believe that Minister Day later issued a clarification of the original press account that reflected much more accurately the nature of the discussions. We are indeed in discussions with our Canadian colleagues as to which, if any, additional documentation from Canada would be accepted.
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When and if any additional documents are added to the list, they would be documents of equivalent security and validity as a passport, much as we on our side are contemplating, as the secretary has announced, a passport card, which would be a smaller, cheaper, but equally secure and based-upon-vetting card, kind of a driver's-license-size card, as opposed to the normal passport book.
That might be a possibility that we would encourage our Canadian colleagues to think about. They are on their side having to work through the issues of their own legislative and production. But I can assure you there was no secret deal to accept baptismal certificates.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Right. The pass card is a new type of document, but it is your understanding that there is no document currently, other than the passport, that gives the secure features of a passport in Canada?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. As was Ms. Kephart, I don't have a full visibility into what Canadians issue. We do have some excellent programs with Canada relating to trusted traveler programs that issue cardsNEXUS and FAST are the two programswhereby individuals who carry them are vetted by joint U.S.-Canadian investigations and are issued a secure document card.
And that cardthose types of trusted traveler cards are being considered as alternates like the pass card. But they, too, meet the high security and vetting standards that are equivalent to the passport issuance process on both sides of the border.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Okay. Let me ask you real quickly, will DHS meet the deadlines for 2007 for sea and air ports and then for 2008 for land ports? Are we on schedule to do that?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. We have every anticipation of meeting those deadlines. It is only in Washington that 19 months before a deadline is a crisis.
To be sure, there are many challenges ahead of us. There are regulations to be promulgated. There is technology to be put out at the border, cards to be developed.
But at this juncture, though we have a few of those steps ahead of us, we have every confidence that we will be able to meet the deadlines. And we are certainly working almost literally day and night to make sure that that happens.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. Without objection, I will grant myself an additional minute for an additional question of Mr. Dow.
Mr. Dow, we just heard about being able to meet that deadline, and you in your testimony suggested thatobserved that travelers are making plans for 2007. At this time, is there any thought to somehow through the ticket purchasing process facilitate educating the public as to the need for a passport?
For example, when someone is going to buy their tickets online, as sophisticated as that is, that they are required to, for example, provide a passport number, and in so doing a traveler today, going to their P.C., would find out that there is a bit of information that they don't have, without which they can't get a ticket for a January 2nd cruise.
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Is that possible, or is thereor would there be a problem with that, with something like that?
Mr. DOW. Well, there is athe issue is not only being able to communicate it, but to be able to have the information from the passport. Just like today, when I make reservations, my passport is at home, but I make airline reservations. So there is a difficulty there.
What our industry is proposing is a stepped-up and huge communications campaign. It is critical, because there is so much confusion right now, whether it is the December 31st of this year or it is December 31st of next year, what is land and sea, what is air and sea versus land.
So we have got to get a single date, and we have got to do everything we can to communicate it. And I think your suggestion of having communication with when people make reservations for cruises is critical. But right now there are people who have made those reservations for cruises that do not have a passport, and there is going to be a real problem coming up in 6 months.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
The chair recognizes the gentlelady from Texas for questions.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much. I would say to the panel that crises in Washington are defined by different time frames, but I would consider this an important hearing for information and to give guidance.
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I would also, Mr. Chairman, like to offer a disclaimer that, in fact, we are not unconcerned about security and ensuring, as Mr. Dow has said, that we do have the right kind of documents and secure documents that will help us facilitate travel in the Western hemisphere.
At the same time, let me say on the personal perspective is my comments on security and wanting to probe and dig deeply into what kind of document we can have is no affirmation of support of a national I.D. card. So I think that we can function with security in a way that tells the American people we mean business, but at the same time be responsible on our liberties and the free flow of traffic.
Mr. Chairman, let me briefly indicate that I have an opening statement that I would like to, in its entirety, submit into the record. I ask unanimous consent.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee is available in the Appendix.]
Ms. JACKSON LEE. And just briefly acknowledge the existence of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires the Department of Homeland Security to consult with the Department of Statea good partnershipto develop and implement a plant to require a passport or other document or combination of documents deemed to be sufficient to establish identity and citizenship status for travelers entering into the United States.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So this is truly to continue the friendship that we have with countries such as Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda, which most Americans will realize that there has been a continuous, ongoing relationship and opportunities.
I might also note that I consider the Caribbean and Bermuda our third border initiative. And we have comparable activities there to ensure the safety of both commerce and travel.
I think that, though this is not the jurisdiction of this Committee, but it is of the Homeland Security Committee, I am, for example, supportive of identifying and labeling all cargo that comes into the United States.
But I think we can find a way with this WHTI to have an orderly, effective and secure process that will provide the travel documents that are necessary. And I hope that DHS and DOS will have the time and initiative to be able to do so.
I would also say that, whatever technology is chosen, that it should be the highest caliber.
And I will just go on record, Mr. Chairmanagain, this may not be our jurisdictionlet us make sure that the contractor that engages in doing this work will be the kind of transparent process, contract that gets the job done.
Let me pointedly ask Mr. Rosenzweig, if I have it correctly, almost, I assumeand it is good to see you again. Let me ask you, let me pointedly ask you, about this deadline. Even though you have, I think very pointedly, tried to respond back, but people are concerned.
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We have contractual problems in the Department of Homeland Security. We have had failures in technology in terms of contracts that have been let and failures to that extent. What is your guarantee that this time frame works for you? Because, needless to say, we have looked over the past days, even, and see that even on the northern border and southern border, the Western hemisphere, we have problems.
What is it that gives us comfort that DHS is on track for these particular documents?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Thank you very much. And it is indeed a great pleasure to be back here. Thank you for welcoming me again.
In life, there are only two certainties: death and taxes. There are no guarantees. That having been said, we are indeed, in our judgment, on track for both of the release of the air-sea rule that will govern travel after January of this year and of the land border rule, which of course does not have to take effect until the statutory deadline of January 1, 2008.
To be sure, a technological deployment of this nature is a challenge. It is a challenge we met with respect to the US-VISIT program, for example, which was similarly one that many people thought would be a potential train wreck in its deployment, leading, we were told, to long lines at our ports of entry.
I think that in retrospect everybody isany fair-minded observer is compelled to acknowledge that that deployment went quite well, not without any hiccups at all
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Is a contractor in place? Is a design of the type document in place?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. With respect to the documents going forward as opposed to the technology, a decision on precisely which technology to use has yet to be made. I anticipate that being made in the very near future. And that will allow the Department of State, who will indeed be the issuing authority, to let the contract for the production of the passport cards.
I should add that, you know, as of today, any American is free to get a passport. We have been doing that for many years. My colleagues at the Department of State know how to do that, and they show great graphs about how millions more are actually applying in anticipation of this.
With respect to the technology deployment at the borders, which is the other side of that, that is a contract that we at DHS will have to let. That, too, has not been let yet, again, because the precise technology decision as to what type of card, what access, what it will read, what it will contain, hasn't been made.
Again, I expect that to be made within a matter of weeks. And I believe that 18 months will be more than enough time to promulgate, propagate that technology out
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Chairman, may I have an additional 30 seconds so that I can ask Mr. Dow a question, please?
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Dow, good words from Homeland Security. I will ask him next, if we gave him more time, would he utilize it.
But on your end, obviously a focus on trade and commerce; some would say not concerned about security. Why don't you respond to that?
Mr. DOW. Our industry, on September 11th, was dropped to its knees in a matter of minutes. Anything that would happen that would have to do with terrorism to our industry would drop it to its knees again. No one is more concerned about security and the safety of our country than our industry. We are the most vulnerable.
And that is why I have thought, once again, your wisdom of the words efficient and secure, because we all know the realities of getting things done. We want security, but we want it done on a timely basis to communicate it and to distribute the cards.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Mr. DOW. Thank you.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I yield back.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona for purposes of questions.
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Mr. FLAKE. I thank the chair, and I thank the chair for scheduling this hearing.
Mr. Rosenzweig, you had mentionedand I want to hit on this deadline again. You mentioned it is only in Washington that 19 months before a deadline that people think there is a problem. I would submit that because it is Washington, we know that there might be a problem. I think that we have been down this road before plenty of times, and I would like toI would think that there are some benchmarks that have to be hit as we go along to give us some confidence that we are going to get that deadline, or reach that deadline.
Can you give us that confidence by telling us what measures are being taken now, specifically? Is there procurement going on right now? Is there testing of these machines or readers? Is there a public education awareness campaign? We have already heard that that is really not going on.
If these aren't rolled out before we get to that deadline, we are not going to get to that deadline.
And I would like Mr. Dow's comments after I hear yours.
Specifically, procurement, is it under way?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. As I said in response to Ms. Jackson Lee, the procurement contract has not been let, precisely because the technology has not been chosen.
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With respect to testing, that is being done. We have done time and motion studies in order to assess which technologies to choose. I would say that many of the technologies we have chosen, or that we are considering, are fairly common in use today. There has been a suggestion, for example, that we might include a proximity chip in the pass card. If you have traveled on Metro, you have used a proximity chip.
So we are not in this going to propagate technologies that are new. The machine-readable zone is on every passport.
Mr. FLAKE. Understood.
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. So we have been doing that.
On the public education, I guess I would have to respectfully disagree with the assertion there hasn't been. I am serving in an acting capacity. I know that my predecessor has spent days on the road up in the northern tier, educating people as to the coming requirements. I know that the department has put together and will be rolling out within the next month or so a Web site, flyers, public education.
Again, however, many of the implementation there has been awaiting the last, final, precise definition of what is going on, because it makes no sense to tell the public of a coming issue without also telling them precisely what steps they should be taking: ''You must go and buy this.'' And we have to define what ''this'' is.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, as I have said, as I participate in this problem, I wish that the meetings that I know are planned in the very near future were just a week ago, so I could answer you better.
Mr. FLAKE. Before I go to Mr. Dow, let me just say, at what point can we expect to hear from you if that deadline is not going to be reached? How long before the deadline?
Because the last thing we want is to see some half-baked effort right near the end where it is a rollout that really isn't a proper rollout. So we want to know long before when that deadline has to be put back until, or what we need to do.
At what point can we expect to hear from you?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I don't have a precise date to give you an answer on that, but I would expect that if we hold this hearing 1 year from now, you will be exceedingly comfortable with the progress we have made. And I would expect that if you are not, that would be an appropriate time for us take action.
But, as I said at the start, I have every confidence, given what I know to be entrained, that we are on track to meet the deadline, and that if we are not, there will be ample time for this Congress to act as it sees fit.
Mr. FLAKE. I would just say that there are certain procurementthere are certain time periods that are there in statute that you have to go through. And so it is going to be obvious at some point. We would just like to know that you know that it is obvious, instead of, you know, coming right up near and doing some half-baked rollout.
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Mr. Dow, do you have any comments, sir?
Mr. DOW. Yes. I think you have stated it very well. And with all due respect, the ''this'' has not been defined. Clearly, the technology has not been defined. The vendor and supplier has not been defined. And we all know the difficulties of communicating this, not only to 14 million Canadian travelers, but to an equal and greater number of U.S. travelers.
So we are talking aboutwe cannot in days of visits identify and help people understand a change in a process for 30 million visitors. We again support a realistic deadline that we can do all the right things and do this right, rather than half-baked.
Mr. FLAKE. If the gentlemen will indulge for one follow-up question.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlemen is recognized, without objection.
Mr. FLAKE. There has been some talk with the Real I.D. Act and with driver's licenses, a lot of the same provisions that go into that are going into this program, that there has been some discussion of perhaps maybe having additional requirements with Real I.D. or whatever else, but being able to use the license for U.S. visitors going out and coming back in.
Have youhas there been any discussion within DHS about that?
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Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Yes, there has. In this, I am somewhat constrained because to speak too much about what is happening within a regulatory process before it becomes formal risks the process itself. There are many legal limitations.
Speaking at a high level of generality, I can say that that is an attractive option that we would like to consider. It is also, however, one that poses some substantial operational difficulties, not the least of which would be how we would allowhow a State driver's license issuance agency would be enabled to adjudge U.S. citizenship.
Today, the only people who judge U.S. citizenship are the Department of State for purposes of passport issuance and our CIS, our immigration services, for its purposes. The States are not equipped that way. So we would need to work at figuring out how that could happen, and that is by no means an insoluble problem, but it is also by no means a trivial one.
Mr. FLAKE. Let me just state that with Real I.D. we do have some of those concerns to take care of.
Thank you, and I thank the chair.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank the gentleman.
The chair recognizes the gentlelady from California for purposes of question.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding the hearing.
And I must tell you that I feel a bit of frustration, given we are in the middle of an immigration reform and all of the complications of that and the recent information about terrorists on the northern border in Canada, and an Administration who has made fighting terrorism its number-one priority, and yet we have two departments, Homeland Security and State Department, that can't seem to get its act together to implement that which has been adopted by the Congress of the United States.
And now we have two senators and othersI guess senators from the northern border side and the southern border side, saying this program must be delayed, that there are too many kinks, that it would be a mess, that it is going to create all kinds of problems at the border.
What can I ask, exceptwhere is the State Department, by the way, Mr. Chairman? Is the State Department here?
I want to hear from Homeland Security and State Department about why you can't get this stuff together. That is all I want to know.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Well, if the gentlelady would yield, we are limited to the number of witnesses that we have available to us. Mr. Rosenzweig is here from the Department of Homeland Security and can speak to the Department of Homeland Security perspective on that issue, and at a later time, we may be able to have the Department of State here.
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But, at this timeand obviously you can make inquiry outside of this Subcommittee hearing, but right now these are the witnesses that we have very ably testifying before us. And Mr. Rosenzweig
Ms. WATERS. Well, let me ask Mr. Rosenzweig, do youdoes Homeland Security and Department of State work together on this issue?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I have to say that I am almost literally joined at the hip with Mr. Frank Moss at the Department of State.
Ms. WATERS. How long have the two of you, joined at the hip, been working on
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Well, I am relatively new in my current position.
Ms. WATERS. Who was joined at the hip before you?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Ms. Elaine Dezenski, who left
Ms. WATERS. How long were they joined at the hip?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. They have been joined at the hip since the passage of the Intelligence Reform Terrorism Prevention Act in December of 2004. We began working on this
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Ms. WATERS. Did anybody tell you before you got joined why they could not get it all worked out?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I am not sure I understand what they could notwhat you are referring to.
Ms. WATERS. Okay, are you familiar with Senator Leahy and his concerns and the amendment that he has introduced for a delay?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Yes.
Ms. WATERS. Well, I am concerned about the same thing he is concerned about. Do you understand that?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I do.
Ms. WATERS. All right. Then why have you not been able to address the concerns, as clearly identified by Mr. Leahy, that I shouldn't have to repeat to you?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Well, the departmentthe Government, the Administration, has taken no position on the Leahy bill itself. However, as I have expressed to Congressman Flake and to Congressman Hostettler and to Ms. Congresswoman Jackson Lee, I don't share the same high degree of concern that Senator Leahy and others have that we are not going to meet the statutory deadline.
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To the contrary, from my perspective, every day of delay is another day of risk at the northern border. And we are working mightily, as fast as we can, to close the Western hemisphere loophole in conformance with the statutory deadline.
I was asked if I could guarantee that, and, you know, unlike many who would perhaps hazard that guarantee, and I won't, but I have every degree of confidence that we actually have in place the program management, the drafts of the appropriate regulations. We have narrowed the technology questions down to a very few that need to be answered in the next couple of days. And if we hold this hearing again in a year, or even in 6 months, the lack of necessity for an extension will be even more apparent.
Ms. WATERS. So, you would object to any representations that there are going to be border delays, there will be problems implementing this program at the border?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. On the contrary. I am sure that there will be some delays in the immediate aftermath, as with any new program
Ms. WATERS. No, train wrecks. Mr. Leahy says a train wreck
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I would disagree with that.
Ms. WATERS [continuing]. On the horizon for the northern border and lack of coordination with the Canadian government. So you disagree with all of that?
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Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Yes, ma'am. On the contrary, I would say that, when fully implemented, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, with its technological deployment, will actually speed and facilitate cross-border traffic, by allowing our CBP inspectors the ability to more rapidly access information about travelers and thereby reduce the delay times at the border.
I also would dispute the characterization of a lack of coordination with our Canadian colleagues. To the contrary, as recently as this morning I was speaking to them. We at the Department of Homeland Security are in close consultation with them on a regular, ongoing basis.
We have many issues to work through. I would not say that we have reached full agreement with them on everything, by any means. But I would say that, as exemplified by the close coordination that we have had on intelligence and law enforcement matters relating to the recent arrest, that the working relationship we have with our Canadian colleagues is amongst the best I have with any foreign nation.
Ms. WATERS. Okay, all right.
Mr. Chairman, I would request just 30 more seconds to ask about
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS [continuing]. The technology difference that you have withthe two of you have. The technology favored by DHS is an open-UHF system that would possibly make our border less secure. In addition, DHS has yet to request a single dollar for the infrastructure required, needed, with whatever card is deployed.
Is there a difference in what kind of technology is going to be used between the two departments?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I am aware of public reports of such differences
Ms. WATERS. No, I don't need you to tell me about the public reports. Is there a difference between the two departments about it?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Inasmuch as neither the Department of Homeland Security nor the Department of State has reached a final decision as to which technology either of them supports, there can't be a difference. There have indeed been ongoing discussions between us as to whether or not
Ms. WATERS. So you have been discussing this since 2004 and there is not a difference?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. We have been discussing this since 2004 and exchanging ideas as to which of the ones would be most
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WATERS. And you have not agreed for 2 years on what kind of technology is to be used?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. We haven't reached a final decision.
Ms. WATERS. Okay, so there is a difference.
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. No, I did not say that.
Ms. WATERS. Oh, I did.
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Yes.
Ms. WATERS. No, I have concluded that, based on the way you have tried to mince your words. 2004, you have been in discussion for 2 years. You have a difference. You are not able to conclude. That is my conclusion.
Okay, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California for purposes of questions.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I thank the panel for being here, and glad to see the Administration doesn't automatically eliminate people from consideration based on who they have associated with in the past.
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I had onethere was only one particular area thatI have never been on a cruise. It is one of the few forms of travel I haven't yet taken advantage of. But I didn't know until yesterday that if you go on a cruise to otherwhere you end up stopping at other countries, you don't need to have a passport to get back in, as long as you have identification, a driver's license, something like that, and that this is going to change based on laws that we have passed.
So, for people who don't have a passport and they want to do these cruises, they are going to have to go get a passport. Apparently, there are some relatively low-priced, relatively short-term cruises for which the cost for a family of four of getting a passport becomes a very substantial percentage of the cost they are paying for the cruise.
And the question I had is, given that this pass card apparently is going to be a passport alternative for land travel, why couldn't that presumably much cheaper pass card be the basis for implementing this in the context of cruises?
Because I do think, and it just seems to me, if you rely simply on some State documents, the potential for somebody joining that cruise in the middle of that cruise, coming back with a phony document, is a hole in the system that should be plugged.
But, balancing all these things, could the pass card be an alternative to the passport for this program?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. You place me in a difficult position, because I am constrained by the rules relating to ongoing rulemaking from giving you a definitive answer one way or the other as to why or why not a pass card would be acceptable.
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I believe I don't trench on those rules by telling you that the pass card alternative, along with other registered traveler-type card alternatives, are being considered in the context of the rulemaking that will accompany the air and sea border. That is not to say that they will necessarily be accepted or not.
But, as part of this, we are going through that analysis of all of the plausible alternatives and trying to determine with some degree of rationality why certain particular ones ought to or ought not to be permitted. That NPRM has not been published in the Federal Register, and if I say too much more I risk a lawsuit.
Mr. BERMAN. Then I am not the first person in Government who has ever suggested that. The possibility of this as an option is being considered by the Administration?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Absolutely.
Mr. BERMAN. Okay. I won'twithout probing into what are the different factors, and I am a little curious about why something that is okay for a land border crossing wouldn't be okay for a cruise ship re-entry, but unless you have something quick to say on that, I
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I will just highlight the factors.
The passport, which is to an ICAO standard, is the gold standard. You know, so in an idealized security world, we might think of passports for all citizens across all borders.
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Mr. BERMAN. Right.
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Plainly, on the northern and southern borders, that creates very great facilitation issues, because the same factors that you have alluded to are, with respect to travelers, and that Mr. Dow has spoken to, exist ramped up to an Nth degree on either border. So what we are trying to assess as we go forward is the tradeoff between that and how much facilitation benefit we get, how much cost we get and how much security risk we are running. That is no automatic formula.
Mr. BERMAN. Great. Okay. I get it. Thank you. Good to see you here.
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. Good to see you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentleman's time is expired. We will now turn to a second round of questions.
Mr. Harris, on a somewhat related note, in my conversations with Canadian officials since taking over the chair for this Subcommittee, we have had discussions regarding the border situation and the desire for Canadians and, honestly, the U.S., to facilitate efficient, effective travel and commerce.
There have been understandable frustrations voiced on the part of Canadian officials with things that have happened since 9/11. It has gotten a little better, the longer we have gone.
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My question is more of a public opinion, public relations question, and that is: Do Canadians understand the extent to which the border situation will most likely change if 9/11 repeats itself and if that repeat is somehow perceived to be facilitated by the historical nature of Canada's government's dealing with terrorist organizations and citizens?
And I commend the Canadian government for what has most recently happened with the arrests, but is itit seems that your testimony reflects this disconnect, maybe between the U.S. and the Canadian government, some officials in the Canadian government, as to the profundity of this issue and our approaches to it.
Do Canadian citizens understand the depth to which the United States citizens feel about this issue and the possible consequence, the probable consequence, of a terrorist attack, another terrorist attack, if it should happen in the future?
Mr. HARRIS. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think the short answer is not particularly. Canada and Canadians have tended to be a highly protected species. We have existed under the U.S. defensive umbrella, as it were, for more than a generation certainly, and we haven't tended to view ourselves as being immediately threatened.
We have considered that we are the world's helpful fixer. In a sense, we have been described as the Boy Scout of peacemakers, and we revel in that inclination. And it is very hard for such a peopleand this is a difficulty shared by many Western countriesto perceive that they could be the object of a rabid hatred, an irrational hatred.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From that, then, comes an inclination not perhaps to appreciate the nature and scope of the threat we face. Indeed, I have said publicly that I do believe that Canadians are at least a generation behind in understanding that nature and scope.
So that deals, I would say, with the first part of your question, sir.
As regards the understanding of the implications if Canada should have some major adverse terrorist development on its soil, particularly implicating the United States, I don't think that that has been fully digested. It is a process that is beginning. There has been a good deal of talk about this in the light of the arrest of the 17 alleged terrorists in the Toronto area recently. But it is very much a process that is in development.
And it remains to be seen whether the public will be galvanized appropriately enough to move their own government. The auguries, as I noted, with the new government are really rather good, rather promising. But there must be a focus maintained, because there are sources of inertia, not excluding bureaucracy.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Ms. Kephart, the Congress has placed into law requirements that we significantly increase the number of Border Patrol agents in CBP and there has been, as I mentioned in my opening statement, as is obvious, a concentration of emphasis on the southwestern border.
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Is it your belief, is it your perspective, with what we have witnessed recently in Canada, that we need to significantly alter our focus not away from the southwestern border, but to include significant discussion about the northern border and a deployment of significant Border Patrol presence on the northern border?
Ms. KEPHART. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, absolutely, I agree with you. There has been an emphasis since 9/11, like there was pre 9/11, almost wholly on the southwest border. The two borders, northern and southern borders, really represent two different kinds of challenges.
You have over the Southwest the prospect of alien smugglers being used by terrorists to come across the border, but really that is more of an illegal question. South of the border, you certainly have significant terrorist activities, reciprocity with visas that make it very easy for movement that way, but really, in Canada, you have a different kind of issue.
You have second-generation jihadists, as they are called, born and bred in Canada, brought up, part of the 350 that Canadian intelligence talks about now, that are being watched, that have been born and bred there. Therefore, they are citizens, they have access to passports.
Right now, though, they don't need to go through the process to show a passport. So you have got a different kind of problem. Now, if we squeeze on the land borders, there is going to be a problem with the physical borders, which is what you are getting to. Absolutely, the Border Patrol on the north side has always been second tier.
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In fact, when I was on the commission, on the 9/11 Commission, one of the simple little math stats I did was I crunched how many border agents there were on the southern border, per mile, versus the northern border, and it has not changed much today. On the southern border, there was one Border Patrol agent every quarter mile. On the northern border, one Border Patrol agent ever 13.5 miles.
That is a pretty big disparity and one that we certainly should consider closing. Hopefully, the Secure Border Initiative will help close some of that gap, but we haven't seen exactly what the Government intends to do with that yet. The procurements are out on that right now.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Ms. Kephart.
The gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman.
Before I pose some questions, I would like to ask unanimous consent to include into the record a statement from Representative Brian Higgins, a statement from Representative Louise Slaughter on the impact of WHTI and a statement from the Business for Economic Security, Tourism and Trade, with the comment that the statement does mention the driver's license reform as in the Real I.D. Act that I would take issue with.
But I ask unanimous consent that these three statements be submitted into the record.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
[The information referred to is available in the Appendix.]
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me also applaud Ms. Kephart. I don't have a question, but I do want to say that the more we can talk about both borders, the more effective we will be on securing the homeland.
And I am of the opinion, inasmuch as enhancement penalties from my alien smuggling bill got into, I believe, the results of the 9/11 Commission legislation that was named any number of names. But, in any event, it passed about 2 years. I think that we had followed the 9/11 Commission with the enhancement of the Border Patrol at both borders, today, 2006, we would be far better off than where we were.
So I thank you for your leadership on these issues.
I would offer to say that there is some Achilles heel to the Real I.D. Act or the idea of a national identity card, because in both Canada and the United States, I would offer to say, that if these individuals were citizens who were perpetrating terrorist acts, the card or any kind of situation like that would not be relevant, because they would have identification and they would already be here in the country.
So I think that intelligence has to be the key. We know that the recent fall in terrorists, if you will, that has brought great appreciation to the United States military today, Mr. Chairman, came about through absolute precise intelligence that I think is key to our war on terror.
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So I ask that, Mr. Harris, let me pose this question to you about a moratorium on immigration refugee intake until Canada gets a handle on its policies. Of course, you mentioned about funding from Saudi Arabia, I guess of mosques inside of Canada. I don't see where those elements have to do with providing secure documents for travel back and forth, but I would welcome your discourse on that issue.
I do think, again, that we have the obligation, as Mr. Rosenzweig has said, to have the best documents we possibly can have, and we will be scrutinizing any contractors that are falling down on the job. But I would be interested in your comments on that.
I would like to follow up with Mr. Dow, in particular, to give me his assessment on the pass cards as the right model for meeting the WHTI requirements and what we can do to ensure that that card works and, to Mr. Rosenzweig, again, we coming back, but if we gave you an extension, would you welcome it and be able to utilize it in an effective way.
Let me go to Mr. Harris.
Mr. HARRIS. Thank you very much, Congresswoman Jackson Lee. I suppose there are a number of questions implicated in this.
First of all, the issue of a possible immigration and refugee moratorium, One of the most useful things I might do is point to a masterwork on the issue of security inadequacies in Canada, produced by former Canadian ambassador Martin Collacott at the Fraser Institute in British Columbia, Canada. He has done considerable work tying the immigration and refugee and related questions into the larger concern about national security.
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I would say that the immigration side presents us with two fundamental and pressing challenges. First of all, the numbers involved, 230,000 people being welcomed by 31 million people each year, and then a refugee that has seen increases from 1977, when there were 500 refugee claimants, to the tens of thousands we welcome each year, these days presents us with some filtering problems that may be insuperable and are very definitely compelling as issues.
Deriving from this is the sheer question of absorptive capacity of the Canadian context. Can weare we in a position, if not economically, then in broader terms, able to welcome people as they should be welcomed, with full integration?
And this has become difficult, in some respects, because there are, of course, some strains of newcomers from certain parts of the world, narrow strains to be sure, who are not familiar with the liberal, pluralist, tolerant, democratic context that we expect from our country.
And we like to consider ourselves somewhat progressive. Perhaps we have flattered ourselves in that sort of respect. But we would like to keep it that way, if we can, and what we have increasingly seen is that with considerable numbers of people, who may include those who are somewhat radical and intolerant, it is very difficult then to dilute some of those tendencies.
Rather, the opposite can occur. We can see enclaves develop and so on. So there is a risk to the tolerance of Canada, broadly speaking.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JACKSON LEE. But you don't want to close your doors to legitimate refugees who you have been so gracious in welcoming as they have been fleeing enormous persecution.
Mr. HARRIS. And that isI am terribly sorry. That is indeed one of the issues, and as Ambassador Collacott has pointed out, that is precisely what we are doing now in the form of absurdly loose interpretations of what a convention refugee is.
Our interpretation in operational terms is so incredibly broad it has virtually nothing to do with what the United States, Britain, France, any number of Western countries would consider a refugee. And, therefore, the tremendous mass and backlog of refugee applicants, claimantsasylum seekers, as we would say in the United Statesis quite literally preventing those people in genuine danger, who would genuinely qualify as convention refugees, from making application and getting in.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentelady's time has expired.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. May I just have the two gentlemen answer the two questions quickly?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. We will go to another round of questions, but if we could move on to another question from another questioner, but we will come back and I will have a question myself.
So, the chair recognizes the gentleman from California for purposes of questions.
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Mr. LUNGREN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
This is an important issue, and my previous absence does not reflect a lack of interest in it. It is just we have competing requirements in this House.
Mr. Dow, as I read the testimony, the organizations continue to support the program we are talking about, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, despite what appear to be failures by DHS to prepare for implementation.
What advice would you give or what do you think that Secretary Chertoff should do at this point to get this moving to implementation?
Mr. DOW. Well, you are absolutely right. We totally support this initiative. It is just a matter of the advice we would give is to issue clear timetables that will not change when we can deliver. That is why we support what Senator Stevens and Leahy have put as a date of June 1st, 2009. We believe that is doable and we think we should do it right.
So I think it is let us get the clarity. Let us get State and Homeland Security to agree on technology and let us put it in with the proper communications, and we think it is the right way to go.
Mr. LUNGREN. I don't want to pick on any particular country, but do you think that the events that we have seen unfold in Canada over the last 10 days would change what you have just said about the date?
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Mr. DOW. No, I don't, because the concerns that we have about the date are the reality of getting it done. As was said earlier, this has been legislation for 2 years. We are presently still talking about the technology, about the vendor, about the procurement, and it is the reality.
Mr. LUNGREN. I hate to ask you this question, but my late father, 62 years ago on this date, was preparing to enter Normandy, and as a front-line medical officer later earned a Purple Heart because his medical aid station was so close to the front lines. And I always recall that it took a shorter period of time for us to land on the beaches of Normandy and get to Berlin than it does for us to do a pilot project.
What makes you think that Department of Homeland Security is going to be ready on that date in 2009?
Mr. DOW. I do not know. We believe they will. We have been watching their operations, their intentions, we have just been watching the progress and are putting the reality of the date. I think December 2009 is a reasonable and rational date, and that is what we are asking for, is for some rationale here.
Mr. LUNGREN. I just hope the terrorists decide to wait until that date as well.
Mr. Harris, you have talked about the fact that Canada is now the target of terrorism, a view supported by public statements by Canadian security officials. Are you satisfied Canada has done what it needs to do to increase security measures. In the past, it appeared that many Canadian politicians were opposed to the improved document security required by this program we are talking about there today.
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In the aftermath of this most recent plot uncovered in Canada, do you believe that we are going to see an improvement in Canada's homeland security?
Mr. HARRIS. It is an impossibly difficult question to respond to, Congressman, because even as we have seen some gradual improvementwe have seen some money put into the challenge over the last few years since 9/11, to be sure. We seem to see promise of further. We have the new Anti-Terrorism Act brought in and so on.
The problem is that we appear to be presenting ourselves with a near-insuperable challenge in the form of the immigration and refugee situation, which, as I have indicated, now seems to be spinning into home-grown and extended threats.
We are a very, very open country on a number of levels, including psychologically, so we have not been on the alert and we have not been an effective constituency as a national public for the very kinds of priorities that we should be pursuing.
So, the short answer is, a good deal has been done but it is far from clear that we are anywhere reassuring in the safety we offer our people.
Mr. LUNGREN. I am sorry I wasn't here to hear your testimony earlier, Mr. Rosenzweig, but where are we in DHS with this? I mean, you may have answered this, but just for me, could you tell me where we are?
I am happy with a lot of things that have been done, but I am dissatisfied, as I observe the Congress and the Administration, with the lack of urgency I have seen in the 16 or 17 months or 18 months since I returned to the Congress about really getting serious about some of this stuff.
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This was a specific congressionally mandated program, one we think has a basis in fact for creating it, and now we are up against the criticisms of it not being implemented for all these reasons. And so we are in the conundrum of do we give up and say, ''Oh, my God, we cannot put this tremendous obstacle to the kind of commerce we want and the travel we want?''
We are not looking to punish those folks, but at the same time, do we just give up and say, well, that was a great idea, Congress, but it is just too tough for us to be able to implement it, so with a lot of your other good ideas, we just put them on the shelf or we postpone them to 2009, or maybe 2010, or 2011 or 2012. What do we do?
Mr. ROSENZWEIG. I share your urgency. Indeed, every day of delay is a dangerous day. I know that some members of the staff have received a classified briefing that can elaborate on that in far greater detail. It is far too early to declare defeat.
I have every expectation that we will hit the deadlines, notwithstanding Mr. Dow's skepticism. We began this process with an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that was out last year precisely because we understood that it was a complex process, also because we wanted to provide the people who travel and who are going to have to adjust their behaviors the greatest degree of advanced notice of likely changes that will be coming down the pike.
So that is an unusual step, but we took that precisely because it was a complex decision and we achieved that. We will have a decision on precisely which technologies we are going to be deploying within a matter of weeks, I anticipate. We are going to then be in a position to go forward with the procurements that are necessary.
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We are going to have fielded a notice of proposed rulemaking on the air and sea portions of this, as we have discussed, in more than enough time to have the final rule issued before the currently scheduled implementation date of January 1, 2007.
We are going to then turn to the more interesting and difficult and, candidly, challenging, problem of defining exactly what requirements we are going to have to put in place on the land borders, where more than a million people transit each day. And we are going to hit that mark as well.
I said earlier that a good checkup in 6 months or a year from now, or both, would I think verify that. And if we don't hit those marks, you will rightly be in a position to look at us and ask us if we really can make the great. But, at this point, 19 months in advance of the statutory implementation date, to say that we can't go from where we are, which is a great deal of the way, to the final resolution in that time frame, is just a premature declaration of inadequacy.
Mr. LUNGREN. I thank the Chairman for his indulgence.
I would just say that I would much rather have a hearing 19 months prior than what we have often done with some of the marks on DHS, which is 19 months after and being told that we still can't hit that mark.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank the gentleman. Point well taken.
I have just one more question.
Mr. Harris, our 5-minute requirement for opening statements, I cut you short, and I noticed at the conclusion of your written testimony, you offer some solutions with regard to the Canadian government to deal with this issue that we are talking about in general, and terrorism and its effect on Canada and its neighbors.
Would you take the time to elaborate on those recommendations?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, thank you, Chairman Hostettler.
I said that, in my own view, if the new Conservative government is promising, as it does appear to be, is sincere in coming to grips with the dire problem we now have in Canada, it will do several of the following. First of all, consider a moratorium on immigration and refugee intake until we get a handle on our policies and processes for mitigating related security risks.
Second, provide appropriate resources and training to the police and security and intelligence community, including reliable travel document and other identification systems. And, third, develop the wherewithal to effectively eliminate the risk of Islamic extremists and their sympathizers surfacing in strategic positions within the machinery of the government of Canada and within our police, security and intelligence forces.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Also, bring an end to government and especially police and security organizations' outreach with Canadian Arab or Islamic representative groups where there is an inappropriate refusal on their part to condemn by name Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and similar supremacist terrorist organizations.
I would also call, fifth, for the elimination of Saudi Arabian funding of mosques, academic and other institutions. And then finally, without fear or favor, the government should, without political correctness, either, tell it like it is to Canadians about terrorism and its sources. If the government can meet these requirements of a report card, if you will, I think we will be doing extremely well.
If I might just finish, Mr. Chairman, by saying that with regard to the possibilities of extension, as a Canadian, I am acutely aware of the potential damage that any kind of early imposition of some of the contemplated arrangements might make. Canadians rely quite desperately for trade with the U.S., naturally enough.
However, as they always told us in law school, you have got to go back to first principles. We are in a life and death struggle and we are in a race against time, as the evidence of recent arrests might suggest. I would therefore respectfully suggest that it is precipitous at this time to think too seriously about granting an extension.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Harris. Sound advice, not only for Canada, but to the extent that other nations have not taken your advice, we should do it as well.
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The chair recognizes the gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Rosenzweig, might I pointedly ask the question again, if we were give you a gift of an extension, would that help the Department of Homeland Security in making sure that the process and technology were hand in glove? Because, listening to Mr. Harris and the burdens that he believe Canada now faces, we should not ignore it.
I don't know whether we can entertain the reform of Canadian immigration laws in this committee, but I do expect being on notice of their concerns, we have to be diligent for the northern and southern border. And I might add that, again, I will agree with Ms. Kephart, and I am not asking you questions for any other reasons other than you have laid out, certainly, a very, very strong argument for bringing back the 9/11 Commission and having them be our continued partner.
But the time frame, would that be helpful to you?
And, Mr. Dow, you were going to comment on the pass document. And I don't consider you an immigration, if you will, specialist, but you do have travel and commerce on the northern border. You might comment on the concerns of Mr. Harris, just as you heard them here today, because I think it is important that the travel industry should not be labeled as not having concerns, but that you are looking for a way that we can facilitate our security with the slow ingress and egress of people and trade.
But, Mr. Rosenzweig, your willingness, if someone was to give an extension on this 2007, 2008 date?
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Mr. ROSENZWEIG. If Congress were to pass an extension, my goal would be not to use it. Every day of delay is a day of danger. That isn't a prediction, but Congress has in its wisdom moved to close this loophole very good and sufficient reasons, so well laid out by the 9/11 Commission, and we are working as fast as we can to close it as rapidly as possible. And our intention would be to promulgate rules and technology that close it on the first day we are capable of that.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I like that answer, because you have said keep the pressure on, if we provide that extension, it will be of absolute necessity and crisis.
Mr. Dow, quickly, as I understand the hearing is coming to a close. Mr. Dow, thank you very much for your testimony.
Mr. DOW. Well, thank you for your support of this industry. I know how important it is for Texas. I support just what this gentleman has said. We want to see this done correct and right and we believe the timing will be there.
We do support a pass card, an alternative, cheaper document that is secure and has all the parameters of what a passport would have. So we support that, we think it is the right thing to do. We just think the timing for the machinery that has to be put in place, the technology and the issuance and the distribution, if Mr. Rosenzweig delivers early, that is terrific, it gives us the time to get the communications out that are critical.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
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And, Mr. Harris, thank you.
I assume that you want to make sure that we are safe on both sides of the border, Mr. Dow, as we travel back and forth.
Mr. DOW. It goes without saying, one incident will destroy our industry.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you.
I yield back. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank the gentlelady.
I want to thank our panel of witnesses for appearing today, for enduring and your contribution to the record on this very important issue.
All Members will be given 5 legislative days to make additions to the record.
The business before the Subcommittee being completed, without objection, we are adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:40 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
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A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SHEILA JACKSON LEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS, AND RANKING MEMBER, SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires all U.S. citizens to bear a valid passport when entering and departing the United States, but it gives the President the authority to make exceptions. This authority has been used to waive the passport requirement for U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and any country, territory, or island adjacent thereto, in North, South, or Central America, excluding Cuba.
Exceptions also have been made to the INA passport requirements that apply to nonimmigrant aliens seeking temporary admission to the United States. For example, Canadian citizens, British subjects from Bermuda, Mexican citizens using Laser Visas, and certain aliens from other islands may enter the United States without presenting a passport.
The 9/11 Commission recommended eliminating the Western Hemisphere Exception for security reasons. I do not think it is necessary to eliminate the exception, but we do need to enhance the security of the documents that are used as alternatives to passports. This is illustrated by an oversight hearing we had three years ago on ''John Allen Muhammad, Document Fraud, and the Western Hemisphere Passport Exception.'' In addition to being a sniper, Muhammad made and sold fraudulent documents for entering the United States as a U.S. citizen. He was able to make U.S. drivers' licenses and corresponding birth certificates in his home with a computer, a scanner, a template for the driver's license and for the birth certificate, a photograph, and a laminating machine.
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The need for more secure alternatives to passports was addressed by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Section 7209 of this Act established the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of State (DOS), to develop and implement a plan to require a passport or other document, or combination of documents, deemed to be sufficient to establish identity and citizenship status for all travelers entering the United States. The deadline for fully implementing the WHTI is January 1, 2008.
On September 1, 2005, DHS and DOS submitted a proposal to implement section 7209 in two phases. On December 31, 2006, it will be applied to all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Then, on December 31, 2007, it will be extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.
Section 7209 also includes provisions to expedite the admission of frequent travelers by establishing a registered traveler program. On January 17, 2006, DHS and DOS announced plans to implement a new registered traveler program by the end of the year that will be known as the ''People Access Security Service'' (PASS) system. It will utilize a wallet-sized identification card known as the ''PASS-card'' that will have a biometric identifier.
I am concerned about whether the current WHTI deadlines of January 1, 2007, for air and sea travel, and December 31, 2007, for all other travel, provide DHS and DOS with enough time to implement the Initiative properly. Whatever technology is chosen, designing, developing, testing, and evaluating the card and reader system will take time. And, when a card and related equipment are deemed suitable, DHS and DOS will need to develop and implement operating procedures and policies to issue and inspect the cards.
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I also am concerned about the impact that the WHTI might have on tourism and trade in the United States. It is difficult to predict what that impact might be. Many frequent travelers already have passports, and no one knows how citizens without passports will react to the new requirements. DHS is in the early stages of studying costs and benefits, but much more work is needed.
It is apparent that permitting people to enter the United States as American citizens on the basis of drivers' licenses and birth certificates does not provide an acceptable level of security. WHTI would require and make available more secure documents, but this Initiative needs to be implemented properly, which includes taking care to secure the border without unduly delaying or discouraging people from traveling between the United States and the other Western Hemisphere countries.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LOUISE M. SLAUGHTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, I commend the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for holding an oversight hearing on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). WHTI is of critical concern to the district I represent, and is quickly surpassing softwood lumber as the top issue in U.S.-Canada relations.
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WHTI should not be viewed in a vacuum; it is essential that Congress understand the long-standing ties between the U.S. and Canada. The two countries are bound by shared values, culture, history, and geography. My constituents do not think of Canada as another country, but as one community closely intertwined. A constituent of mine likened it to crossing the Potomac River from D.C. into Northern Virginia.
More than a relationship of shared proximity and principles, the northern border represents a major component of our global economy. U.S.-Canada trade supports 5.2 million jobs and generates tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. Western New York includes five bi-national bridges, including the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, which is the nation's second busiest border crossing. $160 million in trade and 20,000 vehicles cross the Peace Bridge each day.
In addition to its importance to international trade, the Niagara frontier is a gateway for millions of tourists every year. Tourism is the fastest growing industry in Buffalo-Niagara. Our economy is heavily dependent on Canadian visits to our sporting events, cultural institutions, and local wineries. A loss of just a fraction of Canadian visitors to Buffalo-Niagara would cripple an already fragile Western New York economy.
Therefore, our border security policies must take into account that the northern border is a vital conduit for travel and trade. Let me make it clear that I support the intent of WHTI. In the post 9/11 world, it is imperative that we know that those entering our country are who they say they are, mean us no harm, and have the secure documents to prove it. But there are ways to implement WHTI that are smart and secure, and make certain that our border remains open for business.
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Regrettably, I am convinced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State's (State) proposed plans for WHTI will unintentionally close our borders and be economically disastrous for the U.S. economy.
While we still have more questions than answers at this point, it is clear that DHS and State's proposed WHTI regulations fail to appreciate the close cultural and economic ties between the U.S. and Canada. Further, the Bush administration's vision for WHTI ignores recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and key provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Consequently, WHTI does not effectively improve our border security and will severely curb legitimate trade and travel. The reasons are twofold: first, the documents DHS and State want to require cross-border travelers to carry are prohibitively expensive, take weeks to obtain, and do nothing to help Canadian visitors travel to the U.S.. Secondly, DHS and State are failing to improve programs that expedite low-risk travelers through the inspections processa cornerstone of the 9/11 Commission's border security recommendations.
I first will address the problems with the documents that DHS and State want travelers to carry. DHS and State continue to insist that U.S. travelers will need to show a passport or an alternative yet-to-be-defined travel carddubbed the People Access Security and Service (PASS) cardto re-enter the country from Canada. I understand from DHS and State that the development of the PASS card is an attempt to give travelers a low-cost alternative to a passport. However, the agencies expect that the card will still cost around $55 dollars and take 46 weeks to obtain.
My constituents have made it clear that $55 is too high a cost for travel into Canada. We cannot expect a family of four on a tight budget to spend over $200 to cross into Canada for a day-trip. In addition, we know that families decide to visit Niagara Falls, on average, 14 days before a trip. Yet the PASS card will still take 46 weeks to obtain, meaning that tourists and spontaneous travelers will stay home or vacation elsewhere.
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But do not take my word on it. According to a Zogby International poll commissioned by the Business for Economic Security, Tourism & Trade Coalition, only 30 percent of Americans are willing to pay more than $25 dollars for a card that will only be good for travel to Canada or Mexico. Put another way, 80 percent of U.S. northern border residents have signaled that they will not buy a new $55 dollar card to simply travel into Canada.
The PASS card is an unrealistic option for border residents and tourists because of its costs, limited utility, and long application process. While DHS continues to insist that the U.S. is working with Canada in unison to develop the PASS card, the Canadian government has publicly stated that they have no plans to reciprocate the card for their residents.
I was in Ottawa yesterday to testify on WHTI before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. I met with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, and a group of Canadian Senators and Members of Parliament. In each of these meetings, officials made it clear that they have no intention of creating a PASS card for their residents. In fact, Prime Minister Harper publicly declared last week that Canada will not reciprocate with a PASS card at this time.
I cannot blame Canada for its reluctance to join us in this endeavor because DHS and State continue to disagree on the technical specifications of the PASS card. DHS prefers that the PASS card be embedded with one type of radio-frequency technology (RFID), while State is pushing for the technology currently included in e-passports. Complicating matters is the fact that a subcommittee within DHS' Privacy Office just released a draft report critical of DHS' push to put RFID technology in the PASS card. The subcommittee writes, ''RFID appears to offer little benefit when compared to the consequences it brings for privacy and data integrity. Instead, it increases risks to personal privacy and security, with no commensurate benefit for performance or national security.'' The subcommittee concludes, ''. . . we recommend that RFID be disfavored for identifying and tracking human beings.'' These interagency disputes on the PASS card must be reconciled before we can credibly expect Canada to follow our lead by creating their own card.
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In sum, DHS and State are moving forward with two documentary optionsa passport and the PASS cardthat American and Canadian residents have made clear they will not purchase or cannot obtain. This should be a wake-up call to DHS, State and to Congress.
The 9/11 Commission and Congress certainly did not intend for new documentary requirements to bring international travel and commerce to a halt. In fact, their report noted that, ''[o]ur border screening system should check people efficiently and welcome friends. Admitting large numbers of students, scholars, businesspeople, and tourists fuels our economy, cultural vitality, and political reach.''
The 9/11 Commission understood the importance of border policies that improve both our homeland security and economic security. DHS and State need to follow suit by developing alternative documents that are low-cost, easily obtainable, and do so in formal consultation with the Canadian government.
However, documentation concerns are not the only problems with WHTI. DHS and State are also ignoring key provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 that were designed to expedite the border inspections process for low-risk and frequent travelers.
The 9/11 Commission urged Congress to improve programs for frequent travelers. They noted, ''[p]rograms to speed known travelers should be a higher priority, permitting inspectors to focus on greater risks. The daily commuter should not be subject to the same measures as first-time travelers. An individual shall be able to preenroll, with his or her identity verified in passage.''
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Accordingly, Congress included a number of provisions in the Intelligence Reform bill that stressed the importance of frequent traveler programs. Section 7208 (k) of the bill reads, in part, ''the process of expediting known travelers across the borders of the United States can permit inspectors to better focus on identifying terrorists attempting to enter the United State.''
Expansion of existing frequent traveler programs should be an easy and important step forward in ensuring that we have a smart and secure northern border. For example, the NEXUS and FAST programs are joint ventures between the U.S. and Canadian governments, and are designed to simplify border crossings for pre-approved, low-risk travelers and commercial truck drivers. Applicants undergo a federal background check more stringent than the checks for a passport, and must complete an in-person interview with a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer. Accepted travelers get access to expedited border crossing lanes, and do not have to stop to be inspected. The NEXUS and FAST programs help frequent travelers and truckers get across the border quickly, while allowing our border inspectors to use their limited resources to better inspect high-risk travelers.
While DHS continues to insist that the expansion of NEXUS and FAST is a priority, the fact remains that a number of problems have kept the programs from being effective.
First, NEXUS and FAST are only available at a small number of border crossings; 11 for the NEXUS program and 10 for the FAST program.
Secondly, NEXUS and FAST have a cumbersome application process. Applicants must travel to an enrollment center for an in-person interview with a CBP officer, but there are only a handful of enrollment centers spread out across the northern border. In Buffalo, an applicant must travel to Canada just to apply. The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission has offered space for a center, but CBP continues to resist opening more facilities. The application fee of $50, like the proposed PASS card fee, is prohibitively expensive for many applicants, and has been credited by my local Chambers of Commerce with keeping enrollment in the NEXUS and FAST programs unacceptably low.
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DHS has also been reluctant to market NEXUS in the U.S., and efforts by the private sector to market NEXUS have been met with resistance. For instance, the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority installed signs advising drivers to ask for a NEXUS application at the inspection booth, but the CBP agents would not hand them out.
Finally, the timeframe that NEXUS and FAST lanes are open needs to be extended. NEXUS lanes are not open 24 hours and in some instances are not available until 11 AM, making the NEXUS card all but useless for daily commuters.
DHS has yet to address any of these issues, and has not requested adequate funding in the FY 2007 budget to expand the programs. Further, DHS refuses to even acknowledge that NEXUS and FAST will be acceptable under WHTI. Not only has DHS declined my requests to confirm that these programs will be acceptable alternatives, they have also refused to give Canadian officials any assurances that NEXUS and FAST will continue to be viable options for their citizens as well.
According to the State Department, 48 percent of the annual northern border crossings are made by just 400,000 people. These are the frequent travelers that DHS and State need to get enrolled in frequent traveler programs. Yet NEXUS enrollment currently stands at just 75,000. Even worse, CBP expects to only enroll 50,000 more individuals in the NEXUS program through 2011.
Congress must insist that DHS follow through with the Intelligence Reform bill's mandate to expand the NEXUS and FAST programs. The barriers for entry must be reduced so that NEXUS and FAST are as synonymous with cross-border travel as E-ZPass is with thruway travel.
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Last year, the House accepted an amendment I offered to H.R. 1817, the Fiscal Year 2006 Homeland Security Authorization bill, that streamlined the NEXUS and FAST application process, merged the NEXUS highway and NEXUS Air programs, and encouraged greater public outreach for the programs. But more must be done if NEXUS and FAST are to reach their full potential imagined by the 9/11 Commission. For these reasons, I have introduced H.R. 5286, the Secure Traveler Improvement Act of 2006. My legislation breaks down the barriers of enrollment for frequent traveler programs, and expands NEXUS and FAST across the northern border. Key provisions include:
Sets the price of a NEXUS/FAST card at $20 and waives the first-time renewal fee.
Requires that NEXUS/FAST be acceptable documents under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, as well as acceptable for re-entry into the U.S. at any border crossing.
Requires NEXUS/FAST technology to be installed at additional crossings in North Dakota, Michigan, New York, Montana and Minnesota.
Establishes a minimum of six new enrollment centers across the northern border, and creates new mobile enrollment centers that will sign up applicants in low-participation areas.
Harmonizes the enrollment and security requirements for NEXUS and FAST.
Creates an online-application process and requires DHS to carry out a public awareness campaign.
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I hope that members of this Committee will support H.R. 5286. The bill was developed in close consultation with the CAN/AM Border Trade Alliance and has been endorsed by the American Society of Travel Agents and the Binational Tourism Alliance.
We are not alone in our calls for comprehensive changes to WHTI. Former 9/11 Commissioner, Senator Slade Gorton, denounced DHS and State's WHTI plans last week. In his testimony in front of the Senate International Relations' Subcommittee on International Operations and Terrorism, Senator Gorton concluded that, ''[u]ultimately both sides of the border stand to lose by current plans to implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.''
Senator Gorton also confirmed that DHS and State are not properly implementing the Intelligence bill's provisions and calls into question the security benefits of WHTI. He recommends that ''[g]reater emphasis [must] be placed on securing the Western Hemisphere perimeter and weeding out troublemakers . . . we cannot afford to inconvenience and deter innocent visitors to our country because we suffer from a case of mono-vision.''
A 9/11 Commissioner is not the only authoritative voice troubled with WHTI. At my request, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been tracking implementation of WHTI since January 2006. On 25 May they established in a letter to me that DHS and State face significant problems in developing a workable WHTI plan.
GAO wrote, ''[a]chieving the intended security benefits of the Travel Initiative by the statutory milestone date, without simply requiring all travelers to carry a passport, appears in jeopardy, given the volume of work that remains.'' GAO observes that DHS and State have made very few programmatic decisions and did not request WHTI-related funds in the FY 2007 budget. More alarming is that GAO believes DHS has yet to reach a common understanding of how WHTI links to the overall strategy of securing our borders.
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It should be of great concern to all of my colleagues that DHS and State are pursuing a deeply flawed WHTI plan. Congress must step-in and insist that DHS and State change course, otherwise our border security will remain weak and the U.S. economy will suffer the consequences.
The challenge becomes how best to secure our northern border while appreciating the important cultural and economic ties between the U.S. and Canada.
I have a few ideas that I think answer this challenge and improves WHTI. They are wrapped into legislation I introduced this week with Congressman John McHugh called the Protecting American Commerce and Travel Act (PACT Act).
The PACT Act has two parts. The first extends the WHTI deadline from January 2008 to September 2009. An extension will give the U.S. government the time necessary to implement smart and secure border policies. GAO has made clear that the 2008 deadline will not likely be met; it is now up to Congress to send DHS and State back to the drawing board with specific instructions. In that regard, the second part of the PACT Act is designed to ensure that any alternatives to a passport are secure, low-cost and easily obtainable, and that these alternatives are worked on together by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
First, the extension. As you are likely aware, the Senate adopted an amendment to their immigration bill that extends the deadline until June 2009. My bill echo's this extension but moves the deadline until September 2009. While the Senate agreed on June 2009, I do not think it makes a whole lot of sense to implement new crossing requirements in the middle of the summer tourist season.
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Just as importantly as an extension, I believe it is imperative that Congress gives DHS and State concrete expectations for the implementation of WHTI. An extended deadline does little on its own to get WHTI ''right.'' It could just be more time for the agencies to drag their feet as communities on both sides of the border guess about when and if WHTI will go into effect.
For these reasons, the PACT Act lays out a series of qualifications and benchmarks that DHS and State must meet in implementing WHTI. It also requires that DHS formally work with the Canadian government to develop alternatives suitable for residents of both countries.
First, the PACT Act requires DHS to evaluate existing documentssuch as driver's licensesand determine the feasibility of improving these documents so that they might work under WHTI. My bill conditions implementation of WHTI on DHS developing standards for securing driver's licenses with the necessary security features to be adequate to cross the border. We should not waste taxpayers money and create new cards if small fixes to a document most folks in the U.S. already havea driver's licensewill work just fine.
If DHS and State are serious about the PASS card, then they must understand that the card will only be an attractive option if it is inexpensive and easy to obtain. My legislation sets the cost of the PASS card at no more than $20 and requires that an applicant receive the card within 10 business days of mailing in their application.
This legislation also encompasses the provisions in my Secure Traveler Improvement Act. More broadly, NEXUS and FAST provide a model for how the U.S. and Canada can work together to achieve stronger security while facilitating low-risk trade and travel. With all that is at stake for our border economies, both governments should use the NEXUS and FAST programs as a blueprint for formally working together on WHTI.
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In addition, the PACT Act requires DHS and State to develop a plan to re-admit into the country U.S. travelers who do not possess a passport or an acceptable alternative document. This provision will allow a spontaneous travelersuch as Aunt Tilly from Kansasthe ability to drive over to Niagara Falls, Ontario for a couple of hours before heading back to Kansas, without having to go to the expense of purchasing a new document.
Finally, the PACT Act requires DHS and State to complete a cost-benefit analysis of their final WHTI plan before implementation. A cost-benefit analysis will help DHS evaluate secure and cost-effective options for implementing WHTI, while avoiding adverse effects on legitimate travel and trade with Canada. This analysis will have to prove that the benefits of WHTI outweigh the costs to commerce and travel. This is a high threshold for DHS and State to meet, but is an analysis that is required by Executive Order 12866.
These are just a few key features of the PACT Act. It is a bipartisan effort to bring common-sense solutions to this critical problem. I hope my legislation will be useful to this Committee in its evaluation of WHTI.
In closing, Congress faces a critical decision. We cannot allow the current WHTI proposal to unnecessarily destroy the economic and cultural ties between the U.S. and Canada. If we do not move to fix it, DHS and State will continue down this course that will be disastrous for both countries. We can simultaneously achieve both strong border security and economic security with Canada, but only if Congress acts soon.
Again, thank you Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member Jackson Lee for holding this hearing. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.
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LETTER FROM COREY P. SAYLOR, GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS (CAIR)
[Note: Image(s) not available in this format. See PDF version of this file for complete hearing record.]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BUSINESS FOR ECONOMIC SECURITY, TOURISM & TRADE (BESTT)
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE BRIAN HIGGINS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here today on behalf of my constituents in New York's 27th congressional district. I have the honor of representing New York's Erie and Chautauqua counties, which include Buffalo, New York and the Peace Bridge crossing into Canada.
The people of Western New York have had close relationships with our Canadian neighbors for hundreds of years. Our communities are woven together and our economies are interdependent. Seventy-eight years ago this cooperative spirit resulted in the construction of the Peace Bridge between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario. Our mutual investment in the Peace Bridge has paid dividends many times over, producing commercial and economic development that would never have been possible if citizens of each country did not have easy access to the other side of the border. In fact, the Peace Bridge and its easy flow of traffic to Canada is largely responsible for saving jobs as demonstrated recently by Ford, which spared the Buffalo Stamping Plant in its latest round of closings because of its proximity and collaboration with Ford's Assembly Plant in Oakville, Ontario.
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The Peace Bridge is the second busiest passenger vehicle crossing and the third busiest commercial crossing between the United States and Canada. The commerce facilitated by this bridge is absolutely critical to the vulnerable Western New York economy.
The easy flow of people over the border is equally as important as commerce. Many of the students in my district go to universities along the Canadian shoreline, and Canadian students comprise a major component of our local colleges. Canadians support Buffalo's arts and culturethey visit our zoo, shop our stores, and go to our local theaters; they are a large percentage of the fans in the seats at Bills, Sabres, and Bisons games. In Western New York, crossing the international border is no different that crossing the 14th Street Bridge here in Washington, DC to get to Virginiawe do it to go to church, to buy groceries, and to visit our families and neighbors.
In short, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative would decimate the economic viability and cultural and social fabric of my district. While I believe strongly that our first responsibility is protecting national security, I fail to see how requiring the use of one form of a passport or PASS card is more secure than the documents currently required for cross-border travel. It should be noted that the recent apprehension of a terror cell in Canada hinges on the fact a number of the suspects had previously been stopped and apprehended for gun-running on the northern borderunder current requirements, which do not require passports, these men were successfully stopped and apprehended.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security recently cut in half the funding due Buffalo under the Urban Area Security Initiative. That loss in federal funding will have to be absorbed by the city and county through local taxes. So citizens of Western New York will pay three times for the national security of the entire nation: they will pay their taxes for which New Yorkers receive less from the federal government than they put in, they will pay raised local taxes to supplant the loss in federal funds for this high threat city, and they will pay a border tax for simply living along our peaceful border with Canada. Why should citizens in border communities bear the economic burden of this policy; if this is truly a matter of ''national security'' then the entire cost for this program should be borne by the U.S. Treasury, not solely by border communities like ours.
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The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State argue that the WHTI is mandated in the Intelligence Reform bill, passed two Decembers ago. But the language in the bill directs DHS and State to ''develop and implement a plan as expeditiously as possible to require a passport or other document, or combination of documents, deemed by the Secretary of Homeland Security to be sufficient to denote identity and citizenship, for all travel into the United States.'' Additionally, DHS should conduct a cost-benefit analysis on a plan as significant as this in order to ensure that our community does not suffer from the strangling of legitimate trade and travel with Canada.
The most efficient and effective flow of traffic between the U.S. and Canada is of paramount importance for the national security, economic development and life quality of my district. The proposed passport requirement, as well as the PASS cards, will unnecessarily create delays that will stifle our local economy and place an undue burden on my constituents.
Given the hundreds of years of excellent cross border relations between the United States and Canada and the strong interdependence for commerce, culture, entertainment, universities and quality of life, I continue to believe that the WHTI should be waived until the establishment and enactment of a new form of identification that will prioritize faster and less expensive passage instead of the slower and cost-prohibitive proposal on the table today.
Thank you again, I look forward to working with all of you on this issue.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN CONYERS, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, AND RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
I am pleased that the Subcommittee is holding this important hearing on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This program has not been implemented yet, but already numerous problems and controversies have arisen regarding how, when and for whom new secure border crossing documents will be required crossing our borders.
Widespread concern has grown over the impact WHTI will have over trade and tourism, particularly as it affects trade and tourism on the U.S.-Canadian border. This border is one of the largest, most peaceful and profitable borders in the world. It is the conduit for $1.2 billion in trade every day, and it supports 5.2 million jobs. Canadians spend over $10 billion in the United States annually, with 75% of its tourists crossing land borders into the U.S. Border communities are not the only one's that stand to lose from Canadian tourismCalifornia, Florida and Nevada are the most popular spending destinations for Canadians.
However, it does appear that border communities could suffer acutely. As home to the two busiest border crossings in the country, my home state of Michigan relies heavily on Canadian tourism, travel, and trade. Each year 1 million Canadians travel to Michigan, with an impact on the state's economy to the tune of more than $166 million. Approximately 200,000 vehicles cross between the U.S. and Canada every day carrying tourists, manufacturing goods and farm products. The Ambassador Bridge alone supports 25 percent of U.S.-Canadian trade, and in 2004, U.S. automotive trade with Canada was $116 billion.
Michigan could lose more than $100 million in revenue if spontaneous travel to Canada is hindered by a complicated border crossing identification policy. The Detroit Regional Chamber estimates that the Detroit metropolitan area could lose $86 million annually due to reduced levels of Canadian travel into our city for shopping, sporting events, and to visit restaurants or cultural attractions. In light of the significant manufacturing job losses Michigan has suffered, we are obviously seriously concerned about any further blows to the economy.
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Many questions remain about this program: Is it cost efficient and practical to issue new border crossing cards for the Canadian border when modified driver's licenses under the enhanced REAL ID standards may serve the same purpose? Are passports the best option despite the high price and low percentage of Americans who hold passports? What is a realistic time frame for rolling out a new program given the complicated logistics of picking an identity document, its features, and manufacturer, and ensuring that readers can be identified and ready to use seamlessly? Most importantly, how can the federal government move forward with this program without understanding the true costs and economic impacts involved?
I believe that the Administration must move forward with conducting comprehensive cost-benefit analysis considering our state and national reliance on travel, tourism and trade with Canada. Given the current economic climate, this cost-benefit analysis would provide a thorough explanation as to how WHTI will impact the economy. In addition, such an analysis would provide an explanation of the cost of creating and obtaining new travel documents and equipping all ports of entry with new card readers. Overall, this analysis would provide further guidance to ensure that the implementation of the WHTI would have the most benefit and least detriment to our state's economy.
It is clear that Congress and the Administration must investigate these issues thoroughly to ensure that we can meet our homeland security objectives while protecting our economy from detrimental impacts in trade and tourism. I look forward to hearing the testimony of today's witnesses as we seek to achieve that goal.
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PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE TED POE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
I believe the WHTI is an unnecessary bureaucratic program and reduces our security at our borders.
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship documentation when entering the United States.
For many years U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere including Canadians, have not been required to present a passport or other specific forms of secure identification to enter the U.S. Instead, many were admitted by verbally stating they were from a country that didn't require documentation or by presenting a wide variety of less secure documentation.
The 9/11 Commission in their Report highlighted that terrorists will seek to exploit our vulnerabilities. Closing the loophole that allowed people to enter the U.S. without documentation of citizenship was one such vulnerability and I'm glad Congress took action on this issue. However, it seems as if we are going further and further away from the intent of this legislation due to the bureaucracy within the Department of Homeland Security and The State Department who are implementing this law through the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative continues to spend large amounts of time and taxpayer money to come up with all kinds of ''alternative documents'' to comply with this law. Congress also has held numerous hearings on this matter. The answer today is why? We already have a document that is being used today for the very reason of identifying citizenship and identity from those who travel to and from the United States from countries outside the Western Hemisphere. It is called a passport.
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The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State continue to say a passport is the ''gold standard'' of identity and citizenship documents because of its security features. Yet, these agencies continue to promote such acronyms as the PASS card, BCC, SENTRI, NEXUS or FASTall documents under consideration for acceptance into the travel initiative to satisfy a select constituency; mainly those traveling to and from Canada. At a time when we are already overburdening our border agents, why give them even more documents to inspect or run the risk for more fraud?
People will give a number of arguments against a passport only approach, some of the common ones are that it would cost too much. To that I say that having a passport costs less than $10 a year. Maybe it could cost even less if we weren't paying for a redundant bureaucracy trying to undermine its universal use. I also hear that it will stifle travel and commerce; leading to long lines at the border. Now I've been to the border numerous times and have seen the border agents presented with literally thousands of different documents. How does a policy of accepting one document slow commerce as opposed to a policy of accepting numerous documents? It doesn't. In recent testimony given before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Paul Rosenzweig, DHS' Acting Assistant Secretary for Policy Development said, ''Currently, there are thousands of different documents that a traveler can present to CBP officers when attempting to enter the United States, creating a tremendous potential for fraud. Standardized documents eliminate the time-consuming, manual process of reviewing and validating a host of distinct, and sometimes illegible and unverifiable, birth certificates and other identity documents.'' As we bring more documents into use, we have to train our border agents in them and we increase the chance of fraud associated with them.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Instead of spending precious resources creating discriminatory documents that only benefit one nation and its travelers, we should use our resources to expand passport use into the U.S. VISIT program by using its security features to enable automated reading and vetting of the information so we know who is entering and departing our country. With the recent arrests over the weekend of suspected terrorists operating in Canada, can we really afford to allow a program to continue that leaves our country more vulnerable to attack?
(Footnote 1 return)
9/11 Commission report p.384
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(Footnote 3 return)
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(Footnote 5 return)
''Borderline Insecure'' An Interim Report by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defense, June 2005. p.5 & 6
(Footnote 6 return)
''Borderline Insecure'' An Interim Report by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defense, June 2005. p.6