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[Congressional Record: September 26, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S9247]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                     H-1B AND H-2A VISA LEGISLATION

  Mr. SMITH of Oregon. Mr. President, I have listened to the debating 
back and forth on the issue of whether we do H-2A or H-1B.
  I would like the American people to know that I think there is a lot 
going on behind the scenes. I think there is a lot that needs to happen 
behind the scenes, and quickly because both of these issues are 
legitimate issues. I believe America needs to make up its mind whether 
we want the high-tech industry to remain an American industry. It is 
vital to our economic good, and we are all proud of it. We all want to 
encourage it. We need to help the high-tech industry by raising the H-
1B visas temporarily. Otherwise, this is an industry that is prepared 
to move to other shores. I would rather they remain on our shores 
because I think it does us an enormous amount of good.
  In my State, and in the State of the Senator from Nevada, and so many 
States, we are seeing small businesses thrive with the development of 
this new technology.
  But I also want to speak to the need that we not abandon the cause of 
the Hispanic and Latino workers. There are many proposals right now 
addressing their needs.
  I happen to be a cosponsor of a bill, being argued by many on the 
other side of the aisle, which help these workers.
  I think it is a crying shame that we have people living in the 
shadows of our society right now. These are people who are here; yes, 
many of them illegally, probably well over a million, and maybe as many 
as 2 million people who are working primarily in agricultural 
industries. These illegal workers have infiltrated many other 
industries as well. They have been here for a decade and more. Many 
people worry that if Congress addresses the worker shortage in 
agriculture, more illegal workers will come. I have news for them. They 
have already come. They are here. They live among us and contribute to 
our economy. They are contributing to our tax rolls, frankly, without 
the benefit of law.
  I believe Republicans and Democrats ought to find a way as human 
beings to reach out to the illegal farm worker community. If it isn't 
with amnesty, there are ways we can allow them to be here legally.
  A lot of people say we have no worker shortage in agriculture. I tell 
you that we don't if you include all the illegals. But we owe something 
better to these workers and something better to their employers than an 
illegal system.
  It is a crying shame, and we ought to be ashamed of it in the Senate, 
and do something about.
  I know Speaker Hastert is working on this issue in the House. I 
believe our Senate leadership is working on it here.
  But I am in a dilemma. I will admit it right here on the floor of the 
Senate. I want to help the high-tech industry by providing them with 
highly skilled temporary workers, but I also want to help the workers 
in the agricultural industry who contribute to our economy and deserve 
our attention as well.
  I hope that our leadership will respond quickly to the needs of the 
agricultural industry, as well as the dignity its workers deserve.
  I see our leader is on the floor. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader is recognized.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Oregon for his time 
in the Chair, for his commitments, and for the leadership that he 
provides in the Senate.