ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Immigration Daily: the news source for legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers

Home Page

Advanced search


Immigration Daily

Archives

Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board

Resources

Blogs

Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation

Attorney2Attorney

CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network

EB-5

Chinese Immig. Daily

About ILW.COM

Connect to us

Make us Homepage

Questions/Comments


SUBSCRIBE

Immigration Daily

 

Chinese Immig. Daily



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free
information!

Copyright
©1995-
ILW.COM,
American
Immigration LLC.

Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here:



< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

< Go back to Immigration Daily

[Congressional Record: September 19, 2000 (House)]
[Page H7765-H7770]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr19se00-105]                         



 
ESTABLISHING THE ELIGIBILITY OF ALIENS ADMITTED FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 5062) to establish the eligibility of certain aliens lawfully 
admitted for permanent residence for cancellation of removal under 
section 240A of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 5062

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. LIMITING DISQUALIFICATION FROM CANCELLATION OF 
                   REMOVAL FOR CERTAIN PERMANENT RESIDENT ALIENS.

       (a) Termination of Period of Continuous Residence.--

[[Page H7766]]

       (1) In general.--Section 240A(d)(1) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1229b(d)(1)) is amended by adding 
     at the end the following:
     ``Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, in determining 
     under such sentence whether a period of continuous residence 
     described in subsection (a)(2) has ended, any offense 
     committed on or before September 30, 1996, shall be 
     disregarded.''.
       (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall take effect as if included in the enactment of section 
     304 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-587).
       (b) Treatment of Particular Crimes as Aggravated 
     Felonies.--
       (1) In general.--Section 304 of the Illegal Immigration 
     Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (as contained 
     in title III of division C of Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-587) is amended by adding at the end the following:
       ``(d) Transition Rule for Cancellation of Removal for 
     Certain Permanent Residents.--
       ``(1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph (2), 
     notwithstanding section 321 or 322 of this Act, section 440 
     of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 
     (8 U.S.C. 1101 note), or any other provision of law 
     (including any effective date), in applying section 
     240A(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1229b(a)(3)) to a criminal offense committed on or before 
     September 30, 1996, the term `aggravated felony' shall not be 
     construed to include the offense if the offense--
       ``(A) was not considered to be within the meaning of that 
     term (as defined in section 101(a) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)) on the date on which the 
     offense was committed; and
       ``(B) is considered to be within the meaning of that term 
     (as so defined) by reason of the enactment of--
       ``(i) this Act, in the case of an offense committed during 
     the period beginning on April 25, 1996, and ending on 
     September 30, 1996; or
       ``(ii) this Act or the Antiterrorism and Effective Death 
     Penalty Act of 1996, in the case of an offense committed on 
     or before April 24, 1996.
       ``(2) Exception.--Paragraph (1) shall not apply to an 
     offense of rape or sexual abuse of a minor. The amendment 
     made by section 321(a)(1) of this Act shall not be affected 
     by such paragraph.
       ``(3) Course of conduct.--In the case in which a course of 
     conduct is an element of a criminal offense, for purposes of 
     paragraph (1), the date on which the last act or omission of 
     that course of conduct occurs shall be considered to be the 
     date on which the offense is committed.''.
       (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall take effect as if included in the enactment of section 
     304 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
     Responsibility Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-208; 110 Stat. 
     3009-587).

     SEC. 2. POST-PROCEEDING RELIEF FOR AFFECTED ALIENS.

       (a) In General.--Notwithstanding section 240(c)(6) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1229a(c)(6)) or any 
     other limitation imposed by law on motions to reopen removal 
     proceedings, the Attorney General shall establish a process 
     (whether through permitting the reopening of a removal 
     proceeding or otherwise) under which an alien--
       (1) who is (or was) in removal proceedings before the date 
     of the enactment of this Act (whether or not the alien has 
     been removed as of such date); and
       (2) whose eligibility for cancellation of removal has been 
     established by section 1 of this Act;
     may apply (or reapply) for cancellation of removal under 
     section 240A(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1229b(a)) as a beneficiary of the relief provided 
     under section 1 of this Act.
       (b) Parole.--The Attorney General should exercise the 
     parole authority under section 212(d)(5)(A) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)(A)) for 
     the purpose of permitting aliens removed from the United 
     States to participate in the process established under 
     subsection (a).

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Hyde) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Berman) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde).


                             General Leave

  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on H.R. 5062, the bill under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant 
Responsibility Act of 1996 made long-needed reforms to our laws 
governing the deportation of criminal aliens. The act put an end to 
criminal aliens' indefinitely delaying their deportations through 
endless appeals and put an end to serious criminals such as rapists 
being granted relief from deportation. The results are clear and 
gratifying. The number of criminal aliens deported by the INS has gone 
up dramatically since enactment of the act. Our neighborhoods are 
safer, especially immigrant neighborhoods, which have always borne the 
brunt of crime committed by aliens.
  One aspect of the 1996 act has, however, led to a number of 
deportations that strike many, including myself, as unfair. The act 
broadened the definition of crimes which are considered aggravated 
felonies for which no relief from deportation is available. The 
hardship has come about because this change was made retroactively. The 
new definition of aggravated felony applies to crimes whenever 
committed. Thus, aliens who committed crimes years before enactment of 
the 1996 act, crimes not considered aggravated felonies when committed, 
have become deportable as aggravated felons.
  Now, retroactive application of the law is the exception and not the 
rule, in the Committee on the Judiciary, for obvious reasons of notice 
and fairness. In addition, in some cases aliens have clearly 
rehabilitated themselves in the intervening years since committing 
their crimes, are no longer a threat to society and have started 
families. In these cases deportation seems an extreme remedy. Now, 
these hardship cases, in my opinion, could have been resolved if the 
INS had utilized its inherent power of prosecutorial discretion. The 
INS could have decided not to pursue deportation where the facts called 
out for forbearance. However, the INS has failed to do so. In fact, 
until recently the agency refused to admit it even had prosecutorial 
discretion.
  Given this reality, it seems wise for Congress to step in and take 
action. H.R. 5062, introduced by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
McCollum) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), does so in 
a prudent and responsible manner. Under current law, legal permanent 
residents may apply for cancellation of removal if they have committed 
deportable acts. To ask for such relief, they must have been legal 
permanent residents for 5 years, have continuously resided in the U.S. 
for 7 years and not have committed any offense classified as an 
aggravated felony.
  H.R. 5062 provides that offenses committed before 1996 that became 
classified as aggravated felonies in 1996, except for rape or sexual 
abuse of a minor, would not bar cancellation of removal. Under the 
bill, legal permanent residents already removed because of such 
offenses could reopen their removal proceedings to apply for 
cancellation of removal. It is in the Attorney General's sole and 
unreviewable discretion whether to grant cancellation of removal in 
particular cases.
  H.R. 5062 makes one more change in the law to carry out our intent. 
For the purpose of qualifying for cancellation of removal, the 1996 
reforms terminated periods of continuous residence as of the date of 
commission of a deportable offense. Legal permanent residents who have 
been here for many years thus could not benefit from cancellation of 
removal, even if it was otherwise available to them, because deportable 
offenses they committed in past years now prevent them from 
accumulating the required residence time.
  H.R. 5062 provides that deportable offenses committed before the 1996 
reforms no longer terminate periods of continuous residence for legal 
permanent residents. Legal permanent residents already removed because 
of retroactive application of the stop time rule could reopen their 
removal proceedings to apply for cancellation of removal. I urge my 
colleagues to vote for H.R. 5062. Enactment of this bill will make a 
meritorious correction without endangering the success of the 1996 
bill's thrust against crime.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, if one can imagine this scenario, a contributing member 
of this community, it could be in Massachusetts or the State of Texas 
or in New York, a young man, newly married with a young family, 
working,

[[Page H7767]]

contributing, and legislation then rises up and ensnares him into a net 
dealing with the whole question of a potential or a juvenile offense 
that might have occurred that did not even result in jail time. Either 
that individual is deported or the individual finds himself or herself 
at home in their country burying a loved one and cannot get back into 
the country. Their family is separated. All that they have is lost: 
homes, apartments, cars. This is the reason for H.R. 5062.
  I want to commend the chairman, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. 
Hyde); and ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers); 
my chairman, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), for working through 
this; the gentleman from Florida (Mr. McCollum) and the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Frank); the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Frost), and 
his leadership; the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Diaz-Balart); the 
gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen); the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Filner); the gentleman from California (Mr. Bilbray); 
the gentleman from California (Mr. Rogan); and the gentleman from 
California (Mr. Ose) for working with us on a very important piece of 
legislation.

                              {time}  1300

  It is by nature a technical bill, but it will eliminate the technical 
obstacles to applying for cancellation of removal under section 240(a) 
of the Immigration Nationality Act.
  The effects of the bill, however, are not just technical in nature, 
and I have given my colleagues a scenario of a divided family, 
painfulness, the spouse now detained because of some minor offense that 
some judge early in their life felt that they were not even warranted 
jail time. It will have very real consequences in the lives of many 
longtime lawful, permanent residents of the United States who have been 
unfairly deprived of relief by the retroactive changes of the 1996 
immigration bill.
  First, it will eliminate retroactive application of the so-called 
stop-time rule by which an alien's lawful permanent resident status is 
taken away for eligibility purposes when proceedings are instituted by 
the issuance of a notice of to appear. No crime committed before 
September 30, 1996 would bar an immigrant from accruing the period of 
residency required for cancellation of removal.
  It would also address the injustice caused by declaring longtime, 
permanent residents ineligible for relief, residents with families and 
roots in the community, on the basis of a retroactive change in the 
definition of an aggravated felony. The 1996 immigration law made 
people ineligible for cancellation of removal as aggravated felons on 
the basis of criminal offenses that were not aggravated felonies when 
they were committed.
  For example, prior to 1996, a theft offense was treated as an 
aggravated felony only if a sentence of 5 years or more was imposed. 
Say, for example, Mr. X entered the U.S. as a lawful, permanent 
resident in 1970. He was convicted of shoplifting and sentenced to a 1-
year suspended sentence in 1985. The harsh provision of the 1996 law 
made Mr. X statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal despite 
the fact that he did not commit a serious crime and never again in life 
ever committed a serious crime. The judge who presided over that case 
did not think that the offense warranted even a single day of 
incarceration. But under H.R. 5062, Mr. X would no longer be barred 
from applying for cancellation of removal.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5062 requires the Attorney General to establish a 
process of reopening removal proceedings for aliens who were in removal 
proceedings before the enactment date of H.R. 5062 and who will now be 
eligible for cancellation of removal because of H.R. 5062. This will 
allow these aliens to reapply for cancellation relief. The bill 
specifies that the Attorney General should parole such aliens into the 
United States, give them an opportunity to apply to regain their lawful 
permanent residence status, and will cover those individuals who are 
left wandering and in a complete state of confusion, having gone to 
bury a loved one or attend to a sick loved one and cannot now restore 
their status in the United States to seek reunification with their 
families.
  Mr. Speaker, these changes will permit long-term, lawful permanent 
residents who have been affected by the retroactive changes unfairly in 
the law to have their day in court, families will be reunited, children 
will have fathers, children will have mothers, and I believe it is the 
right thing. I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in favor of H.R. 5062. It is by 
nature a very technical bill. It will eliminate technical obstacles to 
applying for cancellation of removal under section 240A of the 
Immigration and Nationality Act. The effects of the bill, however, are 
not just technical in nature. It will have very real consequences in 
the lives of many long-time, lawful permanent residents of the United 
States who have been unfairly deprived of relief by the retroactive 
changes of the 1996 Immigration bill.
  First, it will eliminate retroactive application of the so called 
``stop-time rule'' by which an alien's lawful permanent resident status 
is taken away from eligibility purposes when proceedings are instituted 
by the issuance of a ``notice to appear.'' No crime committed before 
September 30, 1996, would bar an immigrant from accruing the period of 
residency required for cancellation of removal.
  It also would also address the injustice caused by declaring long-
term permanent residents ineligible for relief on the basis of a 
retroactive change in the definition of an ``aggravated felony.'' The 
1996 Immigration law made people ineligible for cancellation of removal 
as aggravated felons on the basis of criminal offenses that were not 
aggravated felonies when they were committed.
  For example, prior to 1996, a theft offense was treated as an 
aggravated felon only if a sentence of 5 years or more was imposed. Mr. 
X entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident in 1970. He 
was convicted of shoplifting and sentenced to a 1-year suspended 
sentence in 1985. The harsh provisions of the 96 law make Mr. X 
statutorily ineligible for cancellation of removal despite the fact 
that he did not commit a serious crime. The judge who presided over the 
case did not think that the offense warranted even a single day of 
incarceration. Under H.R. 5062, Mr. X would no longer be barred from 
applying for cancellation of removal.
  H.R. 5062 requires the Attorney General to establish a process for 
reopening removal proceedings for aliens who were in removal 
proceedings before the enactment date of H.R. 5062 and who will now be 
eligible for cancellation of removal because of H.R. 5062. This will 
allow these aliens to apply for cancellation relief. the bill specifies 
that the Attorney General should parole such aliens into the United 
States go give them an opportunity to apply to regain their lawful 
permanent resident status.
  These changes will permit long-time lawful permanent residents who 
have been affected by retroactive changes in the law to have their day 
in court. I urge you to vote for this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, with great pleasure I yield such time as he 
may consume to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Smith), the very 
distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration of the House 
Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of the 
Committee on the Judiciary and my friend from Illinois for yielding me 
this time.
  Mr. Speaker, the 1996 immigration reforms improve public safety by 
facilitating deportation of dangerous criminals. Since 1996, the number 
of criminal aliens deported annually has almost doubled from 36,000 in 
1996 to 67,000 projected for this year. Increased deportations benefit 
public safety in the United States because the recidivism rate for 
criminal aliens is high. Justice Department statistics show that half 
of all criminal aliens released from prison are convicted of another 
serious offense within 3 years.
  Since 1996, cancellation of removal has been the primary relief from 
deportation available to aliens. Legal permanent residents are likely 
to receive cancellation of removal if they have continuously resided in 
the U.S. for 7 years and have not committed any crimes classified as 
aggravated felonies.
  Some hardship cases have arisen where deportation may not be 
appropriate. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have urged the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service to ensure that deportation 
proceedings are not prosecuted in inappropriate cases. However, the INS 
has been slow to respond.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5062, introduced by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
McCollum) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), makes two 
changes in existing law. The 1996 reforms expanded the aggravated 
felony

[[Page H7768]]

 definition and provided that aggravated felons are ineligible for 
cancellation of removal. The 1996 amendments that have resulted in 
hardship claims were added by Senate conferees late in the legislative 
process. While there is justification for deporting noncitizens 
convicted of serious crimes, applying a new standard retroactively 
arguably is unfair.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5062 provides that offenses committed before 1996 
that were not aggravated felonies when committed, except for rape or 
sexual abuse of a minor, would not bar cancellation of removal. Legal 
permanent residents already removed because of sexual offenses could 
reopen proceedings to apply for cancellation of removal.
  Second, the 1996 reforms terminated an alien's continuous residence 
on the date of commission of a deportable offense. For some legal 
permanent residents, offenses committed in past years now prevent them 
from accumulating the required residents time to apply for cancellation 
of removal.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5062 provides that deportable offenses committed 
before 1996 no longer terminate periods of continuous residence for 
legal permanent residents. Legal permanent residents already removed 
because of that provision could reopen their proceedings to apply for 
cancellation of removal.
  Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleagues will support H.R. 5062.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to yield 1 
minute to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the ranking member 
of the Committee on the Judiciary, and thank him for his assistance in 
this legislation.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, this bill is a product of the intense 
negotiations between the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank); the 
chairman of the committee, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde); the 
gentleman from Florida (Mr. McCollum); the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. 
Jackson-Lee), and is a product of how far we have been able to go with 
the Frank-Frost original legislation, the gentleman from Texas has been 
in this in a very important way.
  So we are proud of what we have been able to do in terms of 
deportable, minor offenses, which prior to the 1996 law, were pretty 
outrageous.
  Mr. Speaker, I think we have come a great distance. We have another 
larger bill on this list waiting to be dealt with, the Fix 96 bill, so 
I am hopeful that spirit of the negotiations that brought us to this 
point on H.R. 5062 will move forward.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to yield 
such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. 
Frank), a major guiding force of this legislation who has worked in a 
determined and persistent and conciliatory manner to bring this 
legislation to the floor of the House, and a distinguished member of 
the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
her helpful efforts in bringing this bill to the floor.
  I want to thank a number of members of the committee on both sides of 
the aisle, particularly the chairman of the full committee who put a 
lot into mediating this. It is an important step forward.
  I want to say at the outset, I intend, if I am back here next year, 
and the early polls are good, to push for more changes than we now 
have. But this represents what we were able to agree on this late in 
this session, and while it is not everything I would like to see, it is 
a very significant improvement very worth passing. I hope that this 
bill does become law and that we are able to work with the other body 
and with the administration to put these provisions into law.
  Some people have been puzzled and have asked me, well, how come there 
was retroactivity they thought constitutionally we could not do that, 
and I think it is an important point for people to understand. One 
cannot, under our Constitution, pass what the Constitution calls an ex 
post facto law if one is increasing the criminal penalty. But the right 
of a noncitizen with regard to deportation is not of the same 
constitutional order. So this is a policy judgment by the Congress to 
say that with regard to deportation, there should not be a difference, 
even though it would be constitutionally permissible of a retroactive 
sort. This leaves the effect of this bill on people who committed 
crimes on or after the date of enactment. That is one of the subjects 
that I hope we will address next year.
  However, what this bill says that if one committed an offense on or 
before the date of the enactment of this bill, essentially one will now 
be treated as if the old law was in effect and there will be no element 
of retroactivity.
  One of the things we should stress is, none of the offenses here 
affected now become nondeportable. We are not talking about people not 
being subject to deportation if, in a particular case, they ought to be 
deported. It increases the amount of discretion. It reduces the extent 
to which there was kind of an automaticity, but it does not say that 
people cannot be deported.

  Not every offense is covered. I will be urging the Immigration 
Service, if we pass this, to read the intent of Congress here and in 
the discretion which they have and Members of this body had to recall 
to them the fact that no matter what, there is still prosecutorial 
discretion, that they will be guided by the spirit here of 
nonretroactivity in their administration of the bill and, in fact, 
focus on people who are genuinely dangerous and a threat to the 
community as they have the authority to do. But fundamentally, this is 
a time to feel good about making something better.
  There are just two other points I want to make. One, I do want to 
stress, and I appreciate the gentleman from Texas including this and 
the gentleman from Illinois and others on the majority side; this is 
retroactively doing away with retroactivity, to some extent. That is, 
there are people who are already deported. Under this bill, people who 
are already deported will be able, because we instruct the Immigration 
Service to set up a procedure whereby they can apply to come back. The 
criteria I assume would be, to the extent that it can be reconstructed, 
if they would not have been deported in the first place, they should 
not be deported. It does not mean that everybody who is deported 
automatically comes back. There is a process, and they will have to 
show that if it was not for this change in the law, they would not have 
been deported.
  The last point I want to make is this, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the 
indulgence of my colleagues. It is a general point, not about this 
bill. We hear much too much today from people who are critics of our 
political system who tell us that only big money dominates politics, 
who tell us that we cannot get anything done in Congress unless there 
are huge campaign contributions.
  Is this a very significant piece of legislation. This is an 
acknowledgment that a piece of legislation in 1996 had some flaws, it 
is a correction of those flaws. It will mean a great deal to many 
people; and to my knowledge, there are not a lot of campaign 
contributors among them. The people who have been victimized by this 
who, on the whole, have been people of limited economic circumstances.
  So for those who are quick to kind of argue that political 
participation by citizens is worthless, that only big money counts, I 
would ask them to look at the example of this bill. This is a bill that 
has come to the floor today because of broad support by average 
citizens, most of whom, as I said, are not people of enormous economic 
wealth. No campaign contributions brought this bill to the floor. This 
bill was lobbied by citizens all across the country. Members from 
Sacramento and San Diego and Texas and Massachusetts and Florida, all 
over the country came together, because we all had constituents who 
were caught in a device that maybe nobody intended, maybe they did, but 
it was clearly working out more harshly than we thought appropriate. So 
I am very grateful to the majority for bringing this bill forward. I do 
want to stress again, this is an example of how citizens can get 
together and use their rights as citizens to get legislation changed.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) for his words. It is a broad-based effort, 
and we are delighted that the effort was led by the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr.

[[Page H7769]]

Frost), the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, a member of the 
Committee on Rules. He is an original cosponsor of this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Frost), and I thank him for his leadership on this matter.
  Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support legislation that restores some 
sanity and common sense to our Nation's immigration policy. Many of us 
in Congress never intended for the 1996 immigration reforms to lead to 
the senseless deportation of those who have paid for their minor crimes 
and are now productive members of society. I have personally met with 
many families in my district that are now dealing with the trauma of 
the unwarranted deportation of a family member. These families will 
stay in America, but are often reliant on the care and financial 
support of the person facing deportation. These families may be forced 
to go on welfare or their children may be put into foster homes. 
Clearly, our communities are not made safer by breaking up these 
families.
  With this legislation, Congress is beginning to address those 
provisions in the 1996 law that went too far. H.R. 5062 is the first 
step in the right direction of fixing the 1996 immigration legislation.

                              {time}  1315

  Under current law, many legal residents can be deported for minor 
offenses that were not deportable offenses when they pled guilty to 
them. The bill will bring sensible relief to those who have paid for 
past infractions and will give people a chance to remain in the 
country. In addition, people who have already been deported under the 
retroactive provision of this law will be allowed to apply for 
readmission to the United States. This will allow families who were 
previously torn apart to reunite and regain the opportunity of the 
American Dream.
  The bill does not fix all of the harsh provisions of the 1996 
immigration legislation but it will bring some relief to those who have 
dealt with the tragedy of a deported family member.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume just to add to the importance of this legislation the 
bipartisanship that is evident. In addition to a lack of campaign 
contributions, many of these individuals who will ultimately seek 
citizenship are not voters as well. I think the fairness of this issue 
has risen so high that we can see this bipartisan effort today.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Massachusetts 
(Mr. McGovern).
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 5062, and 
I want to thank the chairman and ranking members of the Committee on 
the Judiciary, and especially my colleague, the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) for all their work in bringing this bill 
before the House.
  In 1996, the Congress enacted the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Responsibility Act. Now, nearly 4 years later, this Nation, built by 
immigrants, has witnessed broken families, devastated U.S. citizens, 
and people unjustly deported and jailed because of unjust provisions 
included in this bill.
  In the Third Congressional District of Massachusetts, which I 
represent, there are large concentrations of immigrant families; from 
Portugal, especially the Azores, Cambodia, Cape Verde, and other 
regions. I have listened to the anguished stories of these families. 
Some families have members facing deportation for felony convictions 
committed years ago, and the person responsible has served time and 
made restitution to this community.
  H.R. 5062 gives new hope to these desperate families. It does not fix 
all the problems, but it is an important step in the right direction.
  Again, I want to thank all those involved for bringing it to the 
floor. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 5062.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, may I inquire of the Chair the 
amount of time remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Isakson). The gentlewoman from Texas 
(Ms. Jackson-Lee) has 6 minutes remaining.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Filner), a gentleman who has worked very 
hard on these issues, and these issues are particularly important to 
his constituents.
  Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this 
time, and I also rise in support of H.R. 5062.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from Florida (Mr. 
McCollum) for offering this legislation; the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Smith), the chairman of the subcommittee for bringing it to us; and the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde), the chairman of the full committee; 
and their counterparts, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), the 
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), and the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) for working so hard on this bill. All of them 
have graciously given me time to point out the situation that this has 
caused in San Diego, California, where we have hundreds of families 
affected by the legislation that was passed in 1996.
  Like my colleagues, I rise to say that we must stop deporting hard-
working legal immigrants only because they committed a minor infraction 
years or even decades ago. We must stop hauling parents away in the 
middle of the night in front of their children and denying these 
people, now in detention, the most basic constitutional rights that we 
in America believe everyone should have.
  That is exactly what the 1996 law did. It redefined the term 
aggravated felony to cover virtually every crime ever committed. It was 
retroactive, covering misdemeanor crimes decades ago, and denied basic 
constitutional protections, such as bail and visitation rights. I 
repeat, we are talking about legal immigrants, immigrants residing in 
this country in legal fashion, who have paid their debt, if 
appropriate, to our society.
  So we are now rolling back several of the provisions of the 1996 law 
and allowing those who have been deported to appeal to return to the 
United States. This is a great and positive step. It will mean much to 
hundreds and hundreds of families in San Diego, California, and it 
means a lot to all Americans that we are restoring liberty and justice 
for all.
  I urge everyone to support this legislation.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the 
gentlewoman from Chicago, Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky). We have worked 
together on battered immigrant legislation, and I appreciate her work 
on these matters.
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me 
this time.
  I represent a district, and I am proud to, that is probably one of 
the most diverse in the Nation. It is really a gateway to the United 
States for people from every part of the globe. They embrace our 
country in a way that demonstrates their willingness to play by the 
rules.
  We are talking about people affected by this bill who are legally in 
the United States and, in the case of those people who have been 
impacted specifically by the provisions of the 1996 law, if they have 
committed some sort of infraction, have paid for that. They have 
already done that.
  What this bill has done is cause pain to so many families because the 
rules have been changed, which in some ways is not really a very 
American idea, saying that now, even though they have paid the price, 
they are going to be deported because we have redefined that infraction 
that they have committed and they are going to be out. It means that 
they have to leave their families, and the pain that it has caused can 
be corrected by supporting H.R. 5062.
  I urge that support, Mr. Speaker.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume to once again ask for support of this legislation. I would 
hope that this is painless so that we can rid the pain to others.
  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 was touted as legislation that 
would control illegal immigration. It actually has many provisions that 
significantly affect American families, legal immigration and others 
seeking to enter the United States legally. Among other things, the 
1996 law subjects

[[Page H7770]]

long-time lawful permanent residents to deportation for minor offenses 
committed prior to the enactment of the 1996 law.
  H.R. 5062 is the product of negotiations between Representative 
Barney Frank, Henry Hyde and Bill McCollum:
  It applies only to eliminating mandatory deportation of legal 
permanent residents who committed offenses that were not deportable 
prior to enactment of the 1996 law.
  Mandatory deportation will not be required for persons who were 
convicted prior to September 30, 1996, of ``aggravated felonies'' that 
were not deportable offenses at the time of the conviction. Such 
persons will be eligible to apply for cancellation of removal.
  People who have already been deported under the retroactive 
provisions of this law will be allowed to apply for readmission to this 
country, thus providing an avenue for the reunification of families 
that were split apart by the retroactive impact of the 1996 law.
  A technical provision known as the ``stop-time rule'' also will be 
eliminated for those offenses committed on or before enactment of the 
1996 law. This provision enables persons to take advantage of 
cancellation of removal.
  This bill is only a modest bill--merely a first step toward the 
reforms needed to address the injustices of the overly harsh 1996 law. 
With regard to retroactivity, persons who are deportable under the 1996 
law remain deportable. Though they can apply for cancellation of 
removal, they may be ineligible for other benefits such as 
naturalization. Moreover, the bill applies only to convictions--rather 
than offenses--that occurred prior to the 1996 law.
  More broadly, the harshness of the 1996 immigration law must be 
mitigated in future bills as seen in Representative John Conyers' H.R. 
4966 (Fix '96 bill). The 1996 law must be changed to restore judicial 
review and discretion to the Attorney General and the courts, eliminate 
mandatory detention, and revoke retroactive enforcement of the 1996 law 
on a more comprehensive basis.
  Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5062 and 
urge my colleagues to vote for this important legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill corrects an injustice in our laws. In 1996, 
Congress made several modifications to the nation's immigration law 
that had a harsh and unintended impact on many permanent resident 
aliens who live in the United States. Under these modifications, legal 
aliens who had lived in the United States for many years, and who may 
have entered a plea for a burglary or simple assault years ago, 
suddenly were subject to automatic deportation with no right to seek a 
waiver from the Attorney General, as had been the law. This retroactive 
feature was a creation of the other body and was something I opposed in 
1996. It is wrong and bad law.
  The House intention under the 1996 act was to deport those immigrants 
who were guilty of a dangerous aggravated felony. However, a House/
Senate Conference significantly expanded the definition of such 
felonies to include relatively minor crimes, and then applied the law 
retroactively. As a consequence, individuals who had committed 
comparatively minor crimes would be deported, even if the crime was 
committed 30 or 40 years ago.
  The result, Mr. Speaker, was a manifest injustice.
  I will cite one example: Olufoake Olaleye, a legal permanent 
immigrant originally from Nigeria and mother to two American born 
children had lived in the United States for a number of years and had 
supported her family without ever having taken a nickel of public 
assistance. She was hard working, dedicated to her family, and in 1993 
she was charged with shoplifting $14.99 worth of baby clothes after she 
attempted to return several items to an Atlanta clothing store without 
a receipt.
  Olufoake, not unreasonably, wanted the matter resolved quickly and so 
appeared in court with a lawyer where she pled guilty, paid a fine, and 
was given a 12 month suspended sentence. There the matter would have 
rested. Unfortunately, under the 1996 law, her crime was considered an 
aggravated felony, and because the '96 bill included retroactivity 
provisions, the I.N.S. reopened her case and ordered her deported.
  Mr. Speaker, it is wrong to retroactively deport a hard working 
immigrant for stealing $14.99 worth of baby clothes and to equate 
shoplifting with murder, rape and armed robbery. This Congress, with 
the best of intentions, went too far. H.R. 5062 will go a long way 
towards correcting this by eliminating retroactivity.
  Mr. Speaker, we are a just and fair nation and must strike a just and 
fair balance in our immigration codes. H.R. 5062 does just that and I 
urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for 
time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. HYDE. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Hyde) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 5062.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________





Immigration Daily: the news source for
legal professionals. Free! Join 35000+ readers
Enter your email address here: