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September 30, 2006

House Continues to Secure the Homeland

COLUMBUS , OH – Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Columbus) today submitted the following editorial:

As we sit today, five years removed from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we are unquestionably a safer nation. We have created the Department of Homeland Security and placed terrorist-fighting agencies under one roof. We have removed illogical barriers that prevented federal law enforcement agencies from sharing information with intelligence agencies, and invested billions to fortify the security of our sea ports and airports. And all the while, our armed forces have aggressively and successfully prosecuted the War on Terror, dismantling terrorist operations in the Middle East before they can inflict harm here.

This week, the House passed legislation further adding to the security of our nation, helping to uncover terrorist plots before they can be waged, and bringing terrorists to justice. Over strong Democrat opposition, Congress passed legislation improving and modernizing law enforcement’s ability to monitor the communications between known terrorists in the U.S. and their overseas networks. Further, the bill removes excessive bureaucracy and increases congressional oversight to ensure that Americans’ civil liberties are protected. 

The House also approved the Military Commissions Act of 2006, legislation creating a new judicial system to prosecute terrorists. The legislation preserves the national security program for detaining and questioning terrorists and authorizes military tribunals to bring suspected terrorists to justice. The bill also ensures that suspected terrorists – including Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks – can be put on trial for their crimes against America.

This month, the House also passed three bills strengthening our homeland security by protecting our borders. Border security is the linchpin to national security and homeland security, and without it, terrorists will continue to live amongst us as they plan their next attack on America, and freely enter our nation to carry out their plots.

Included in our border security efforts was a measure expediting the process by which dangerous illegal immigrants and alien gang members can be deported from the country. We passed legislation ending the practice of “Catch and Release,” whereby illegal immigrants have been released back into the general population while they await deportation proceedings. Finally, the House cracked down on border tunneling by stiffening criminal penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for individuals who knowingly construct or finance the construction of an unauthorized tunnel across a U.S. international border. Anyone caught using such a tunnel to smuggle aliens, contraband, drugs, weapons, or terrorists are subject to twice the penalty that would have otherwise been imposed.

Also, this past week, the House passed legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security, providing $21.3 billion for border protection and immigration enforcement. The bill contains the funding necessary to help stem the flow of illegal immigration into our country, and among other things, provides $2.77 billion for the border patrol, adding 1,500 new Border Patrol agents, and $1.2 billion for border fencing, vehicle barriers, technology and infrastructure.

As the terror plan thwarted last month in Britain clearly illustrates, al Qaeda and other terrorist networks are incessantly plotting and planning to kill Americans. Failure to understand this fact weakens our nation, and puts our people at risk.