WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, made the following opening statement at today’s markup of H.R. 2214.
Below are the remarks as prepared.
Ranking Member Collins: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Once again, our president has taken decisive action to help ensure the safety and security of our country, and, once again, my Democrat colleagues are so unhinged, they’re attempting to block the president’s action and even threatening to take away the president’s power.
The Department of Homeland Security has identified several types of information that it needs in order to make a reliable decision regarding the admissibility of a foreign country’s nationals seeking entry to the United States. This includes things like: Does the country report lost or stolen identity documents — including passports — to Interpol and how often do they do so; does the country share information about their known or suspected terrorists or about their criminals with us; and does the country issue modern electronic passports.
Who wouldn’t think that these are important things to know when determining whether to let a foreign national into our country? Apparently, our Democrat colleagues.
Instead of expressing appreciation for what this president has been able to accomplish with regard to security, my colleagues have decided to markup H.R. 2214, the NO BAN Act — which effectively eviscerates the ability of the administration to take quick and decisive action to protect our homeland when concerns arise.
Until the president signed the first travel executive order in January of 2017, very few had ever heard of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s section 212(f) authority.
This act provides the president broad latitude to impose restrictions on the entry of aliens or classes of aliens to the United States when such entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States . . . ” And it has been used successfully by Presidents Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and others.
Pursuant to the travel executive order, the president required the Secretary of DHS and Secretary of State, along with the Director of National Intelligence, to determine what countries fail to meet international standards of information sharing or identity management, or were at a high risk of terrorism or public safety concern, and to report their findings to him.
Based on that assessment and the recommendations of the secretaries, the president placed travel restrictions on seven countries. Pursuant to the continued review of countries and an updated report, last month, the president issued a proclamation imposing narrowly tailored travel restrictions on six additional countries — Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.
It’s important to understand that such restrictions are not permanent. When a country comes into compliance with the information sharing and other requirements, they can be removed from the list of restricted countries. That happened for Chad in 2018, and press reports have already noted that the government of Nigeria is working to come into compliance.
There is no doubt that this president’s use of 212(f) authority has helped improve our security and the vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry to the U.S. As the DHS Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security Policy testified last September, “one country reinstituted a dormant program to help identify convicted criminals . . . Three countries have adopted more secure e passports. Two countries obtained access to Interpol databases for the first time, and eight countries began reporting lost and stolen passports to Interpol for the first time, or improved the regularity of that reporting.” These are not insignificant improvements to the world’s security.
H.R. 2214 would take 212(f) authority from the president’s and give it to a subordinate. Under this bill, only the secretary of state can determine that the entry of aliens is a threat to the U.S. This is problematic in instances where other cabinet officials should be involved. The bill is a trial lawyer’s dream since it interjects undefined and broad terms like “least restrictive means” and the notion of “harm” that are ripe for litigation — especially considering the bill’s expansive judicial review provision and explicit class action allowance.
H.R. 2214 also contains onerous reporting requirements, consultation with Congress before the president can act, and Federal Register publication of information about the action taken and the circumstances necessitating the action. Of course, it makes no sense for the U.S. government to broadcast to the public the deficiencies they have identified, since those would then be exploited by bad actors seeking to harm those foreign countries or the United States.
Perhaps the most ridiculous of the bill’s provisions is section 4 — which not only terminates the travel executive orders in place but incredibly ceases “all actions taken pursuant to any proclamation or executive order terminated” by the bill. This means that the information sharing — on terrorists, criminals, and other security threats — that has derived between the U.S. and other countries with travel restrictions would stop. How does that even sound like a solid policy? It makes no sense what-so-ever.
This bill is another knee-jerk response by my Democrat colleagues to their hatred of President Trump. And it would undermine the safety and security of Americans.
I urge my colleagues to oppose H.R. 2214 and I yield back the balance of my time.