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Bush OKs New Law to Shore Up Border Security

President Bush has signed legislation into law that is designed to toughen U.S. border security and visa laws. It is part of an ongoing effort to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.

The president says this legislation is full of common sense measures that will make America's borders more secure while promoting trade and commerce.

He says about 500 million people enter the United States each year, and only half that number are American citizens returning from abroad. He says America welcomes guests but needs to know why they are coming, and what they are doing while in the country.

"That is important for us to know," emphasized Mr. Bush. "It is knowledge necessary to make our homeland more secure."

Mr. Bush stresses that America is not a fortress and will always welcome law-abiding citizens. But he adds additional steps must be taken to shore up border security.

"We must use technology and be wise about how we use technology to speed the flow of commerce across our borders and to identify frequent travelers who pose no risk," he said.

Under this bill, foreign visitors must carry passports and visas that are tamper-resistant. They will also be required to carry documents that identify the bearer with biometrics, a fingerprint, or facial recognition technology.

The legislation orders federal agencies to better coordinate information, while providing for hundreds more immigration service inspectors and investigators.

In addition, the bill includes specific measures designed to keep closer watch on foreigners who enter the United States on student visas - the main avenue used by several of the men involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The INS will set up a foreign student tracking system, and schools must report enrollees on student visas who do not show up for class.