Media Contact: Heather Wong, 202.225.3072
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) today offered the following statement before the House Select Committee on Homeland Security Hearing’s hearing on the 9/11 Commission’s findings:
“Chairman Cox and Ranking Member Turner, thank you for taking the lead in calling this Committee back to Washington during the August recess to analyze the findings made by the 9/11 Commission. It is critical that the Congress immediately address this report. I hope that Speaker Hastert will follow your lead and call on the full House to do the same before Labor Day.
“I would also like to thank our distinguished witnesses, the Honorable Thomas H. Kean and the Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, for all their work and contributions to understanding what happened on 9/11, for identifying the weaknesses in our homeland security, and for presenting recommendations for preventing a future 9/11. Your work will certainly provide a strong basis for Congress to draft legislation to fix the problems we face in protecting our nation from terrorism. I strongly support Leader Pelosi’s current effort to draft and pass legislation implementing your recommendations.
“You have made essential recommendations that address a wide range of issues in homeland security, from global defense strategies to domestic intelligence reforms. I would like to address your findings regarding immigration and border security.
“For almost 10 years in Congress, I have been avidly working to improve our immigration and border security as a member of the Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, I continuously run into the same obstacle every time I make a recommendation to bring our immigration system into the modern world – an agency that refuses to think outside the box and understand the far-reaching implications of their immigration and border security decisions. First it was with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Now it is with the Department of Homeland Security that inherited the non-innovative culture and broken system that existed in the former INS.
“Frankly, I am frustrated with making recommendations to an agency that seems to fail to see the value in instituting cutting-edge, effective technology. This is why I have recently begun formulating legislative mandates to direct the Department of Homeland to institute technological reform in immigration and border security. Before 9/11, improving technology in immigration was seen as an optional improvement in services for immigrants. Now, however, everyone sees such reform can make the difference between a secure homeland and terrorism.
“This is why I sincerely welcome the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission on immigration. I agree that, as the 9/11 Commission report states, “A modern border and immigration system should combine a biometric entry-exit system with accessible files on visitors and immigrants, . . . .” and that “[a]ll points in the border system—from consular offices to immigration services offices—will need appropriate electronic access to an individual’s file.” It is odd, as stated in the 9/11 Commission Report, “No one can hide his or her debt by acquiring a credit card with a slightly different name. Yet today, a terrorist can defeat the link to electronic records by tossing away an old passport and slightly altering the name in the new one.”
“These problems in our immigration system can be addressed through effective use of modern technology, including the comprehensive use of biometric identifiers on all forms used by immigrants, electronic immigration files, and fully automated entry and exit monitoring. These are just some solutions I am developing to many problems already identified and others that need further study. I look forward to working with the 9/11 Commission to finally implement the change we need to secure our homeland through effective immigration and border security technology and reform.”