TERRORIST EXCLUSION ACT, H.R. 650 -- H.R. 650 (Extension of Remarks - January 24, 1995)
HON. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN
in the House of Representatives
TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 1995
- Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to reintroduce a bill I originally cosponsored and helped author in the 103d Congress under the leadership and efforts of our former colleague now in the other body, Ms. Snowe. That bill, H.R. 2730, excluded from the United States any individual on the basis of mere membership in a terrorist organization, as such a group is defined by the Attorney General in consultation with the Secretary of State.
- The bill I am reintroducing today, H.R. 650, is identical to H.R. 2730 from the last session of Congress. It will end the ridiculous situation we now have where we often have our State Department officials wringing their hands and spending countless hours trying to determine the nature of the visa applicant's membership and level of activity within a terrorist organization or group.
- Similar provisions as were in H.R. 2730 passed the other body under the leadership of Senator Hank Brown during the 103d Congress. However, unfortunately, they did not become law; nor did the House get an opportunity to act to close this glaring loophole in the immigration laws and the State Department's interpretation of those laws today.
- Today we often see time-consuming State Department analysis made to determine whether to deny a visa to an individual who is a mere member of a terrorist group, but hasn't yet been convicted of an act of terrorism in an appropriate court of law and with some consular officer's view of appropriate due process.
- Under our State Department's view of current law, mere membership alone doesn't automatically create a presumptive basis for denial of a visa, therefor the protracted analysis and soul searching I mentioned, often follows.
- The bill I introduce today shifts the burden of proof and makes the denial of the visa presumptive based upon mere membership by the visa applicant in a terrorist organization alone, as defined by the Attorney General and the Secretary of State based upon available. data.
- The visa applicant, not the State Department consular officer, must make the case for his or her right to travel to the United States.
- The Secretary of State in a recent JFK School of Government speech said that the State Department was going to get tough on international terrorism and international criminals. In fact, as part of the administration's plan of action, the Secretary said `* * * we will toughen standards for obtaining visas for international criminals to gain entry to this country.'
- Surely, to the average American, those who are members of overseas terrorist groups, as such groups are determined by the Attorney General and the Secretary of State under by bill, would clearly fit the category of international criminals.
- International criminals, whether yet formally convicted or not of terrorism, or who we may or may not know want to travel to the United States to engage in possible terrorist acts ought not get U.S. entry visas. It is as simple as that, and my bill will bring that about.
- The public would demand our State Department exercise the visa issuance discretionary function and authority in the best interests of the United States, and denial should be in order in such membership cases, one would hope. The benefit of the doubt should go to the U.S. interests. However, let us not rely on hope or ambiguity; my bill gives the State Department clear authority, the ability, and the direction to deny visas in the case of mere membership in these overseas terrorist organizations, as determined by the Attorney General along with the Secretary of State.
- The administration, which has wisely stepped up the activity and rhetoric against terrorism, should also ensure that the rhetoric it uses on international crime, terrorism, and efforts to protect U.S. interests, fully matches their actions. My bill, which I introduce today, gives them a chance to support additional and needed real reform to thwart a growing and dangerous new terrorist threat aimed at America's interests and security, here at home.
- I ask that the full text of the bill be printed here at this point in the Record.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. MEMBERSHIP IN A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION AS A BASIS FOR EXCLUSION FROM THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT.
Section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B)) is amended--
(1) in clause (i)(II) by inserting `or' at the end;
(2) by adding after clause (i)(II) the following:
`(III) is a member of an organization that engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity or who actively supports or advocates terrorist activity,'; and
(3) by adding after clause (iii) the following:
`(iv) Terrorist organization defined: As used in this Act, the term `terrorist organization' means an organization which commits terrorist activity as determined by the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of State.'.