Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) announced today Congress overwhelmingly passed the FY 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill to fund border security initiatives. Congressman Poe voted to support this appropriations bill with a watchful eye on the provision that allows for an extension to the original January 1, 2008 deadline to require international travelers coming to the United States to have a passport or passport equivalent.

This bill contains some very good legislation to fund security initiatives along our borders, but it also contains a provision to delay the implementation of a Passport Only policy for entering our country that is critical to the security and safety of the United States. I am disappointed that this language was added by the Senate and I fought hard to remove it from the final Conference agreement. However, I plan to hold the Department of Homeland Security to their word and push to have this policy in place well before the June 2009 extension. Congress must aggressively follow this issue and demand periodic updates from DHS on the status. Without quickly addressing our flawed entry policy, we leave the back door wide open for illegals to continue to violate our laws.

The bill allows for an extension to the original January 1, 2008 deadline to June 1, 2009 to require international travelers coming to the United States to have a passport or passport equivalent. The extension will allow the continuation of more than 8000 types of identification to be used at our points of entry for those entering the United States from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean Islands. It is the strong recommendation of the 9/11 Commission that passports be used for everyone entering the United States and Immigration and Customs agents at the border point out the impossibilities of authenticating thousands of documents at our points of entry.

The objective is to force people to use the legal points of entry to come to our country, but we must put an end to the anything goes identification policy, said Poe. My legislation, the Passport for All Act, will do just that by requiring anyone entering the United States to have a passport. I am a strong supporter of shutting down our open borders and I fully intend to see this loop hole eliminated without any further delay.

Among many provisions in the $34.8 billion Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, $2.27 billion will be designated for additional border patrol; $1.2 billion for technology, infrastructure, fencing and barriers in designated areas along the southern border; $4.2 billion for Immigration and Customs (ICE); $1.38 billion for ICE detention operations; and $28.2 million to assist state and local efforts in enforcing immigration laws.

For more information on the Passport for All Act, please visit our website, www.house.gov/poe. For additional measures included in the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, http://appropriations.house.gov/.

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