Report from Rep. Mike Rogers: Socialism has no place in America; Issues statement at hearing on DHS’s use of biometric technologies; visits with Bobby and Connie Lake from Auburn


Special to the
Opelika Observer

The push for a socialist agenda is alive and well in Washington and it is causing major problems within the Democrat Party.
Members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are offering ideas like the Green New Deal which would cost American taxpayers more than $90 trillion over 10 years.
Many of you may have also seen during the televised Democratic presidential debates that every single candidate raised their hand when asked if their health care plan would include coverage for immigrants in this country illegally.
This same group wants to eliminate private health insurance. They want to offer debt free college. They want to change our way of life in America.
But while they put forth these radical notions, the real problems our country faces are not being dealt with.
The national security and humanitarian crisis that has dragged on at the Southwest border is real. And although Democrats were supportive of building a border wall in the past, now they are completely opposed because President Trump is for it.
But that aside, the Trump Administration requested $4.5 billion to help with just the humanitarian crisis as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) runs out of money to take care of families and unaccompanied minors that illegally crossed into our country. That request for funding did not include a dime for building the wall, but strictly money for shelter, transportation, etc.
Republicans tried to bring the funding legislation to the Floor more than 80 times. The Democrats kept blocking it without offering solutions. It took weeks and weeks to finally get a bill passed. That would not have happened until the small group of moderate Democrats left in the House threatened to join Republicans there by forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to act.
Speaker Pelosi has had a heck of a time trying to rein her party in. It seems Democrats remain more interested in playing politics than taking care of the people’s business.
On top of all of this, there is still chatter of impeaching President Trump – even with nothing to base it on other than being sore losers.
I hope Democrats will stop playing games because Americans deserve better.
As always, I want to hear from you on this or any issue.
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Mike Rogers

Statement at Hearing on DHS’s Use of
Biometric Technologies
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), House Homeland Security Committee ranking member, delivered an opening statement at a hearing last week titled “About Face: Examining the Department of Homeland Security’s Use of Facial Recognition and Other Biometric Technologies.”
Biometric technologies have the potential to improve security, facilitate travel, and better enforce our immigration laws.
These technologies range from facial recognition, to fingerprints, to DNA.
Each of these methods presents unique privacy considerations, but also clear security benefits.
Not only does federal law authorize DHS to use biometrics to verify identities, it requires CBP to collect biometric entry and exit data for all foreign nationals. This requirement has been a long-standing bipartisan mandate. Recent technological advancements have finally made it possible.
DHS’ primary focus is facial recognition at TSA and CBP checkpoints, where travelers are already providing IDs to government employees.
TSOs and CBP Agents can review several hundred IDs in a single shift.
As a result, fatigue and human error allow people with fake IDs to slip into our country every day.
Automating this process with biometric technology will improve transportation security.
CBP and TSA have done their homework on these checkpoint pilots and are working to build accurate, effective, and secure systems.
DHS should continue to collaborate with experts at NIST to ensure they are using accurate algorithms to power these systems.
Biometric systems advance DHS’ mission beyond transportation security.
ICE recently conducted a Rapid DNA pilot program to verify family ties on the southwest border.
A 90-minute test can replace hours of interviews and document review.
This short pilot found a disturbing number of cases where men, who claimed to be the biological parent of a child, quickly changed their story when asked to submit DNA.
The technology does not store DNA in a central database and each machine can be purged daily.
Amid the humanitarian crisis on our border we should be looking to things like Rapid DNA to protect children from abuse by smugglers who rent them as a ticket into our country.
Additionally, we should be using biometrics to enforce our immigration laws.
Recent reports have emphasized ICE and the FBI’s use of state DMV photos to identify criminals.
I do not believe that anyone has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a government ID photo. Period
Police have long relied on photo books and manual photo review to identify suspects and known fugitives.
Effective facial recognition technologies can improve law enforcement by ridding this process of bias and human error.
Each of these examples uses biometrics as one part of a process.
Technology cannot and should not replace an officer’s final judgment. But it can speed up identity verification for millions of people every year.
Halting all government biometric programs, as some of my colleagues suggest, is an easy way to avoid hard questions.
Taking the easy way out of this issue will only increase the gap between technology and our ability to understand it.
DHS should continue to consult with experts at NIST to develop clear public standards for government biometric systems.
DHS leadership should ensure that its biometric databases are secure and have clear privacy guidelines.
And Congress should continue to educate itself, as we are today, about the way we can employ this technology responsibly.


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