Deal reached on controversial U.S. border-crossing law

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 22, 2000) — Two U.S. lawmakers who opposed one another on a controversial law that would have created massive bottlenecks at border crossings have reached an accord.

Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, plan to reduce the impact of Section 110 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which would require border agents to question and keep track of every foreigner who travels in and out of the country. The provision, designed to stop visitors from staying in the United States longer than their visas allow, has yet to be enacted.

The deal reached by Abraham, who opposed the law, and Smith, a key supporter, would not require Immigration and Naturalization Service to collect any more information from foreigners than is currently collected by agents on pieces of paper, such as name, country of origin and date of birth. However, information that is collected would be kept in a computerized database for agents to access.

The 50 busiest land border crossings would be required to have the system installed by the end of 2004 and the rest of the crossings by the end of 2005.

Congressional and White House negotiators agreed in 1998 to delay the law’s original start until 2001, giving the INS time to come up with a plan it could implement.

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