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[Congressional Record: September 20, 2000 (House)]
[Page H7902]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Simpson). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) is recognized for 5 
  Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I want to announce that I have introduced 
H.R. 5032, which is the Caribbean Amnesty and Relief Act.
  The act originally applied to people from the English-speaking 
Caribbean nations, but we have now expanded it to apply to people from 
all nations in the Caribbean.
  Because of the close proximity of the Caribbean to the United States, 
there really is indeed a special relationship between our country and 
the Caribbean. And we have many, many people who have come to our 
shores and who want to come to our shores who immigrate to this country 
for the same reasons that my grandparents immigrated at the turn of the 
last century many, many years ago, wanting a better life for themselves 
and wanting a better life for their families; and, in doing so, they 
create a better life for all Americans.
  Let us look at the kind of American who immigrates to this country. 
It is not a lazy person. It is not someone who wants something for 
nothing. It is an industrious person, someone who leaves behind the old 
country, family, friends, culture, and comes to this country. It is a 
special person. Indeed we are by and large a nation of immigrants, and 
the reason why our country has grown and flourished and prospered is 
because of the industriousness of our immigrants.
  And so, I believe that immigration is a good thing for this country. 
Some may disagree. I think they are wrong. I think immigration is good 
for this country and it is certainly the right thing to do in terms of 
helping industrious people become new Americans.
  We have a problem, however. It is a problem in my district. It is a 
problem in other districts in that we have families who are stuck. Some 
of the families are stuck in the old country. Some of the families are 
in this country.
  What my bill, H.R. 5032, attempts to do is to have family 
reunification as its core. Mothers and fathers and sons and daughters 
and sisters and brothers ought to be able to live together.
  I can tell my colleagues that in my district I have heard horror 
stories where families are stuck in the Caribbean, some are in this 
country, and it is impossible to get them over here.
  Now, some may use the term ``illegal.'' And we have to have a 
cohesive policy with immigration. But I use the term ``undocumented'' 
because sometimes the difference between people who are undocumented 
and documented in this country is very capricious and arbitrary. And I 
can tell my colleagues stories of suffering of families again who only 
want the best.
  So my bill would help families. What my bill would do is it would be 
an adjustment to permanent resident alien status, in other words, allow 
people to get green cards if they have been in this country since 1996 
and ultimately, after a certain amount of years, allow them to become 
citizens of this country.
  It would also allow them to have work authorization while their 
application is pending and would also create a visa fairness commission 
to collect data on economic and racial profiling. Because, again, I 
have heard many, many horror stories of arbitrary decisions involving 
  So, Mr. Speaker, I would urge my colleagues to support this bill. I 
think that this bill ought to be a crusade, and it will be a crusade of 
mine. I think people of all goodwill want to do what is best for this 
country and what is best for people. We are not talking about names 
that have no significance. We are talking about people's lives. And 
this affects people's lives. There is no reason again why if people 
want to come to this country why we should not have a cohesive policy 
of immigration in this country, one that would help families and not 
divide them.
  So, again, the people of the Caribbean Basin have always been loyal 
friends of the United States. At the height of the Cold War, the United 
States looked to the Caribbean nations. And, as a result, a lot of the 
Caribbean countries have suffered political upheaval.
  So let us talk about family reunification. Let us talk about doing 
what is right. Let us talk about a cohesive immigration policy that 
does not penalize people. Let us upgrade the very special relationship 
that this country ought to have with the nations of the Caribbean. But 
most importantly, let us have family reunification. Let us do what is 
right for those families. And let us do what is right for America.