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[Congressional Record: June 26, 2000 (House)]
[Page H5146-H5162]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

          Amendment No. 25 Offered by Ms. Jackson-Lee of Texas

  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
  The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Amendment No. 25 offered by Ms. Jackson-Lee of Texas:
       Page 107, after line 21, insert the following:


       Sec. 801. (a) Section 249 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1259) is amended--
       (1) in the section heading, by striking ``1972'' and 
     inserting ``1986''; and
       (2) in subsection (a), by striking ``1972;'' and inserting 
       (b) The table of sections for such Act is amended in the 
     item relating to section 249 by striking ``1972'' and 
     inserting ``1986''.

  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order.
  The CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of Friday, June 23, 
2000, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), and a Member 
opposed will each control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Chairman, I wish I did not have to rise to the floor on this 
issue, because I know if my colleagues understood this issue 
completely, they would immediately move to waive the point of order and 
allow us to proceed to vote on this and pass this amendment.
  In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act authorized the 
legalization of undocumented immigrants, in essence to grante late 
amnesty. This is a nation of immigrants and laws. But, unfortunately, 
the INS promulgated a rule that denied such legalization to the 
immigrants in this group who had briefly left the country to bury a 
loved one or take care of a child, or handle other matters.
  We find that these individuals now live in our country having lived 
18, 20 years, they have mortgages, car payments, and are hard-working 
individuals with young adult children now trying to seek an educational 
opportunity. But yet because of an incorrect interpretation by the INS 
of a regulation, the situation now exists that these individuals, 
hardworking, taxpaying families are not able to adjust their status and 
become citizens or apply for such.
  Mr. Chairman, I believe that this amendment resolves this in a fair 
and adequate manner so much so that the AFL-CIO has offered a 
resolution in support of legal amnesty, and at the appropriate time I 
will submit their statement for inclusion in the Record.
  I offer another amendment, Mr. Chairman, that would bring an end to a 
long problem. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act 
authorized the legalization of undocumented immigrants who could prove 
that they had been living in the United States since January 1, 1982.
  Unfortunately, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (``INS'') 
promulgated a rule that denied legalization to the immigrants in this 
group who had briefly left the country. INS then refused to accept 
applications from people who had violated this rule.
  But by the time the INS had agreed to modify the rule, the 12-month 
application period had ended and hundreds of thousands of people who 
could have established eligibility for legalization had been turned 
  This amendment would update a provision of the immigration law known 
as ``registry'' by which our government recognizes that it makes sense 
to allow long-time residents, deeply rooted immigrants who are 

[[Page H5148]]

to our economy to remain here permanently. This amendment would get 
these immigrants out of ``legal limbo.''
  My bill H.R. 4172 ``The Legal Amnesty Restoration Act of 1999'' also 
fixes this problem, however the devastation that these families are 
facing because of our inability to seek legal status warrants our 
acting today to correct this injustice. Thank you.


       The AFL-CIO proudly stands on the side of immigrant 
     workers. Throughout the history of this country, immigrants 
     have played an important role in building our nation and its 
     democratic institutions. New arrivals from every continent 
     have contributed their energy, talent, and commitment to 
     making the United States richer and stronger. Likewise, the 
     American union movement has been enriched by the 
     contributions and courage of immigrant workers. Newly 
     arriving workers continue to make indispensable contributions 
     to the strength and growth of our unions. These efforts have 
     created new unions and strengthened and revived others, 
     benefitting all workers, immigrant and native-born alike. It 
     is increasingly clear that if the United States is to have an 
     immigration system that really works, it must be 
     simultaneously orderly, responsible and fair. The policies of 
     both the AFL-CIO and our country must reflect those goals.
       The United States is a nation of laws. This means that the 
     federal government has the sovereign authority and 
     constitutional responsibility to set and enforce limits on 
     immigration. It also means that our government has the 
     obligation to enact and enforce laws in ways that respect due 
     process and civil liberties, safeguard public health and 
     safety, and protect the rights and opportunities of workers.
       The AFL-CIO believes the current system of immigration 
     enforcement in the United States is broken and needs to be 
     fixed. Our starting points are simple.
       Undocumented workers and their families make enormous 
     contributions to their communities and workplaces and should 
     be provided permanent legal status through a new amnesty 
       Regulated legal immigration is better than unregulated 
     illegal immigration.
       Immigrant workers should have full workplace rights in 
     order to protect their own interests as well as the labor 
     rights of all American workers.
       Labor and business should work together to design 
     cooperative mechanisms that allow law-abiding employers to 
     satisfy legitimate needs for new workers in a timely manner 
     without compromising the rights and opportunities of workers 
     already here.
       Labor and business should cooperate to undertake expanded 
     efforts to educate and train American workers in order to 
     upgrade their skill levels in ways that enhance our shared 
     economic prosperity.
       Criminal penalties should be established to punish 
     employers who recruit undocumented workers from abroad for 
     the purpose of exploiting workers for economic gain.
       Current efforts to improve immigration enforcement, while 
     failing to stop the flow of undocumented people into the 
     United States, have resulted in a system that causes 
     discrimination and leaves unpunished unscrupulous employers 
     who exploit undocumented workers, thus denying labor rights 
     for all workers.
       The combination of a poorly constructed and ineffectively 
     enforced system that results in penalties for only a few of 
     the employers who violate immigration laws has had especially 
     detrimental impacts on efforts to organize and adequately 
     represent workers. Unscrupulous employers have systematically 
     used the I-9 process in their efforts to retaliate against 
     workers who seek to join unions, improve their working 
     conditions, and otherwise assert their rights.
       Therefore, the AFL-CIO calls for replacing the current I-9 
     system as a tool of workplace immigration enforcement. We 
     should substitute a system of immigration enforcement 
     strategies that focuses on the criminalization of employer 
     behavior, targeting those employers who recruit undocumented 
     workers from abroad, either directly or indirectly. It should 
     be supplemented with strong penalties against employers who 
     abuse workers' immigration status to suppress their rights 
     and labor protections. The federal government should 
     aggressively investigate, and criminally prosecute, those 
     employers who knowingly exploit a worker's undocumented 
     status in order to prevent enforcement of workplace 
     protection laws.
       We strongly believe employer sanctions, as a nationwide 
     policy applied to all workplaces, has failed and should be 
     eliminated. It should be replaced with an alternative policy 
     to reduce undocumented immigration and prevent employer 
     abuse. Any new policy must meet the following principles: (1) 
     it must seek to prevent employer discrimination against 
     people who look or sound foreign; (2) it must allow workers 
     to pursue legal remedies, including supporting a union, 
     regardless of immigration status; and (3) it must avoid 
     unfairly targeting immigrant workers of a particular 
       There is a long tradition in the United States of 
     protecting those who risk their financial and physical well-
     being to come forward to report violations of laws that were 
     enacted for the public good. Courageous undocumented workers 
     who come forward to assert their rights should not be faced 
     with deportation as a result of their actions. The recent 
     situation at the Holiday Inn Express in Minneapolis 
     highlights the perversity of the current situation. 
     Therefore, the AFL-CIO calls for the enactment of 
     whistleblower protections providing protected immigration 
     status for undocumented workers who report violations of 
     worker protection laws or cooperate with federal agencies 
     during investigations of employment, labor and discrimination 
     violations. Such workers should be accorded full remedies, 
     including reinstatement and back pay. Further, undocumented 
     workers who exercise their rights to organize and bargain 
     collectively should also be provided protected immigration 
       Millions of hard-working people who make enormous 
     contributions to their communities and workplace are denied 
     basic human rights because of their undocumented status. Many 
     of these men and women are the parents of children who are 
     birthright U.S. citizens. The AFL-CIO supports a new amnesty 
     program that would allow these members of local communities 
     to adjust their status to permanent resident and become 
     eligible for naturalization. The AFL-CIO also calls on the 
     Immigration and Naturalization Service to address the 
     shameful delays facing those seeking to adjust their status 
     as a result of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.
       Immediate steps should include legalization for three 
     distinct groups of established residents: (1) Approximately 
     half-a-million Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and 
     Haitians, who fled civil war and civil strife during the 
     1980s and early 1990s and were unfairly denied refugee 
     status, and have lived under various forms of temporary legal 
     status; (2) approximately 350,000 long-resident immigrants 
     who were unfairly denied legalization due to illegal behavior 
     by the INS during the amnesty program enacted in the late 
     1980s; and (3) approximately 10,000 Liberians who fled their 
     homeland's brutal civil war and have lived in the United 
     States for years under temporary legal status.
       Guestworker programs too often are used to discriminate 
     against U.S. workers, depress wages and distort labor 
     markets. For these reasons, the AFL-CIO has long been 
     troubled by the operation of such programs. The proliferation 
     of guestworker programs has resulted in the creation of a 
     class of easily exploited workers, who find themselves in a 
     situation very similar to that faced by undocumented workers. 
     The AFL-CIO renews our call for the halt to the expansion of 
     guestworker programs. Moreover, these programs should be 
     reformed to include more rigorous labor market tests and the 
     involvement of labor unions in the labor certification 
     process. All temporary guestworkers should be afforded the 
     same workplace protections available to all workers.
       The rights and dignity of all workers can best be ensured 
     when immigrant and non-immigrant workers are fully informed 
     about the contributions of immigrants to our society and our 
     unions, and about the rights of immigrants under current 
     labor, discrimination, naturalization, and other laws. Labor 
     unions have led the way in developing model programs that 
     should be widely emulated. The AFL-CIO therefore supports the 
     creation of education programs and centers to educate workers 
     about immigration issues and to assist workers in exercising 
     their rights.
       Far too many workers lack access to training programs. Like 
     all other workers, new immigrants want to improve their lives 
     and those of their families by participating in job training. 
     The AFL-CIO supports the expansion of job training programs 
     to better serve immigrant populations. These programs are 
     essential to the ability of immigrants to seize opportunities 
     to compete in the new economy.
       Immigrant workers make enormous contributions to our 
     economy and society, and deserve the basic safety net 
     protections that all other workers enjoy. The AFL-CIO 
     continues to support the full restoration of benefits that 
     were unfairly taken away through Federal legislation in 1996, 
     causing tremendous harm to immigrant families.

  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  The CHAIRMAN. Who seeks time in opposition?
  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition, and 
continue to reserve my point of order.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, how much time do I have 
  The CHAIRMAN. The gentlewoman has 3\1/2\ minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the 
distinguished gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking member 
on the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from Texas for 
raising this very important point, and we in the Committee on the 
Judiciary have worked hard to correct it. I cannot understand why it 
has only 5 minutes on each side. But we are trying to make an 
improvement on the registry by which the government recognizes that it 
makes sense to allow a long-time resident, deeply rooted immigrant who 
is here contributing to our economy to remain here permanently.
  So we have this correction for people that have come to the country, 

[[Page H5149]]

well, raised families, have created no problem, are otherwise good 
citizens and we are modifying a rule that INS is not able to do without 
this legislation. I think this is an excellent amendment, and I hope 
that all the members in the Committee will agree to it.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the ranking member 
very much, and I thank him also for his leadership on this issue.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentlewoman from 
Florida (Mrs. Meek) who has been a long-standing fighter on this issue.
  Mrs. MEEK of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman from 
Texas for yielding me this time. This is an extremely important issue 
which we have fought from the early times of the 1990s up to now. It 
just does not make good sense from an economic standpoint or political 
standpoint or a moral standpoint for the United States not to recognize 
that these Salvadorans, Haitians, Guatemalans all of them are here now, 
they have lived good lives and paid taxes. There is no reason for us 
now not to approve the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from Texas 
(Ms. Jackson-Lee).
  It is an important amendment. If we allow these people who have been 
here a long time, paying their taxes, not breaking our rules, this will 
get them out of legal limbo.
  Mr. Chairman, some of us come from areas where there are inordinate 
amounts of people in this category. They are living in this country 
doing well, pay taxes; and this amendment will get them out of the 
legal quagmire which we put them in. It is not their fault that they 
were put in this situation. This was a mistake or misconception by INS.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 30 seconds to the 
distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Delahunt), a member of 
the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. DELAHUNT. Mr. Chairman, let me suggest that this is about 
fairness. It is that simple. And it is time.
  Mr. Chairman, we have discussed this in the committee before. It is 
time to address it. I think each and every Member in this body has 
dealt with a family that finds itself in limbo waiting for a loved one 
to come back.
  I congratulate the gentlewoman from Texas for bringing it forward, 
and I would hope that the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Latham) would recede 
on the point of order.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield 15 seconds to the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Serrano), the ranking member of the 
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Appropriations.
  Mr. SERRANO. Mr. Chairman, that is all I need just to rise in strong 
support of this amendment. I think it speaks to an extremely important 
issue; one that we have to continue to work on. I support the 
gentlewoman wholeheartedly.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of 
my time. I will also offer to speak on the point of order, subsequent 
to the distinguished gentleman continuing to raise it.
  Mr. Chairman, I note even on page 37 that this bill legislated on an 
appropriations bill. But I think this is a human factor here. We are 
talking about families who have been separated from each other. We are 
talking about families who remain divided because they, for very 
important family reasons, had to leave the country to go and take care 
of family matters.
  But we are also talking about contributing individuals who have 
contributed to the economy of this country. All they want, Mr. 
Chairman, is the ability to adjust their status to legal status. The 
same right allowed to other immigrants in their same category. However 
because the INS misinterpreted the rule, and the courts have affirmed 
that the INS misinterpreted the rule, we have this injustice.
  I hope that this amendment can be passed and I thank the Chairman for 
the time.

                             Point of Order

  The CHAIRMAN. Does the gentleman from Iowa (Mr. Latham) insist on his 
point of order?
  Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, yes. Again, I will restate, the gentlewoman 
from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) clearly is aware of the fact that despite 
any merits, this amendment does not belong on this bill. Therefore, Mr. 
Chairman, I make a point of order against the amendment, because it 
proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation on an 
appropriation bill and, therefore, violates clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The rule states in the pertinent part: An amendment to a general 
appropriation bill shall not be in order if it directly amends existing 
  Mr. Chairman, I ask for a ruling of the Chair.
  The CHAIRMAN. Does the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) wish 
to be heard on the point of order offered by the gentleman from Iowa 
(Mr. Latham)?
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, yes, I do.
  The CHAIRMAN. The gentlewoman from Texas is recognized.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, let me refer the Chairman to 
page 37 of this bill which, in fact, under section 112 there is the 
implementation of a genealogy fee, which as far as I am concerned is 
legislating on an appropriations bill.
  This is such a crucial bill, if there is precedent that we have 
legislated on an appropriations bill, then I would ask that the point 
of order be waived and that this amendment be allowed to go forward.
  The CHAIRMAN. The Chair is prepared to rule. The Chair finds that the 
amendment proposes a direct amendment to existing law. As such, it 
constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2(c) of rule XXI. The 
point of order is sustained, and the Chair would advise Members that 
other provisions in the bill that may be legislation were subject to 
waivers of points of order.

  Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word for the 
purpose of yielding to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Deal) for the 
purpose of engaging in a colloquy.
  Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for 
  Mr. Chairman, as the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Rogers) knows, 
illegal immigration into the ninth district of Georgia has skyrocketed 
in recent years. North Georgia has quickly become a destination for 
people entering this country illegally. Word has spread throughout the 
communities that jobs are plentiful in our labor-intensive industries.
  What once might have been called a trickle of illegal aliens into 
North Georgia has turned into an outright flood. A recent study 
completed by Georgia State University concludes that in Hall County, 
Georgia, where I live, there could be an illegal immigration population 
of over 65,000.
  This is especially alarming because of the overall population of the 
country is only 120,000. The schools, health care, delivery system, and 
judicial system have all seen a dramatic influx of residents who do not 
have legal status in our country. This has had a drastic and 
debilitating impact on the social services that our community is able 
to provide.

                              {time}  2215

  But despite the growing problem of illegal immigration in my 
district, I am happy to report renewed optimism. The Quick Response 
Teams, or QRTs which the gentleman and his subcommittee have developed, 
have proved to be a tremendous success where fully implemented. The 
city of Dalton, Georgia, which is one of the cities most affected by 
illegal immigration in my district, has benefited greatly from the 
presence of a QRT team.
  These teams of INS agents work with State and local law enforcement 
to identify, apprehend, and remove criminal and illegal aliens. I thank 
the gentleman for his leadership on the interior enforcement of our 
immigration laws. Too few Members have had the courage to substantively 
address this issue. It is my hope that we can expand these successful 
QRTs to other communities that are dealing with this problem such as 
Hall County, Georgia. I would simply ask for the gentleman's commitment 
and for his continued support of interior enforcement of our 
immigration laws and especially the Quick Response Teams.
  Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, I thank the gentleman 
for reminding us of this enormous problem in his district. I know of 
few districts that are impacted as significantly as the gentleman's 
district in Georgia. In fact, we included an additional $11 million in 
the bill which was not requested by the administration to expand this 
QRT program around the country. In fact, I want to tell the gentleman 
that he is the inspiration for the QRT program, and I appreciate the 
problem he is facing in his home area, as well as other areas of the 
country; and I assure the gentleman that we will be happy to work with 
him as we proceed to address the problem.
  Mr. DEAL of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman.