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[Congressional Record: September 28, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S9443-S9445]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                               H-1B VISAS

  Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, the Senate has just concluded its fourth 
vote in favor of the bill expanding H-1B visas that America grants each 
year to people from other countries to work in certain specialty 
occupations. I supported the bill on each of these votes.
  But I rise today to express how strongly I oppose the manner in which 
the majority leader has sought to constrain this debate. I oppose the 
way in which the majority leader sought, on that bill, as with so many 
others, to prevent Senators from offering amendments. And I oppose the 
majority leader's effort to stifle debate by repeatedly filing cloture 
on the bill.

  Through his extreme use of cloture and of filling the amendment tree, 
I'm afraid the majority leader has reduced the Senate to a shadow of 
its proper self. And the result has been a Senate whose legislative 
accomplishments are as insubstantial as a shadow. This body cannot long 
exist as merely a shadow Senate.
  Yesterday, as he brushed aside calls that the Senate vote on minimum 
wage or a patient's bill of rights, the majority leader complained that 
the Senate had already voted on those matters. But the Senate has, as 
yet, failed to enact those matters, and the people who sent us here 
have a right to hold Senators accountable.
  And what's more, by blocking amendments, the majority leader has also 
blocked Senate consideration and votes on a number of issues that have 
been the subject of no votes in the Senate this year. Let me take a few 
moments to address two of them, the reform of soft money in political 
campaigns, and the indefensible practice of racial profiling.
  Let me begin my discussion of these two items that the Senate was not 
allowed to take up--campaign finance and racial profiling--by 
discussing how those matters relate to what the Senate did take up--the 
H-1B visa bill.
  The proponents of the H-1B bill characterize it as a necessity for 
our high tech future. It is both more and less than that.
  But in a sense, the high-tech industry is certainly a large part of 
the reason why the Senate considered H-1B legislation these past two 
weeks. I would assert, that there is a high degree of correlation 
between the items that come up on the floor of the United States Senate 
and the items advocated by the moneyed interests that make large 
contributions to political campaigns.
  American Business for Legal Immigration, a coalition which formed to 
fight for an increase in H-1B visas, offers a glimpse of the financial 
might behind proponents of H-1Bs. As I've said, I am not opposed to 
raising the level of H-1B visas. But I do think it's appropriate, from 
time to time, when the weight of campaign contributions appears to warp 
the legislative process, to Call the Bankroll to highlight what wealthy 
interests seeking to influence this debate have given to parties and 
  ABLI is chock full of big political donors, Mr. President, and not 
just from one industry, but from several different industries that have 
an interest in bringing more high-tech workers into the U.S. I'll just 
give my colleagues a quick sampling of ABLI's membership and what they 
have given so far in this election cycle. All the donors I'm about to 
mention are companies that rank among the top employers of H-1B workers 
in the U.S., according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
  These figures are through at least the first 15 months of the 
election cycle, and in some cases include contributions given more 
recently in the cycle:
  Price Waterhouse Coopers, the accounting and consulting firm, has 
given more than $297,000 in soft money to the parties and more than 
$606,000 in PAC money candidates so far in this election cycle.
  Telecommunications giant Motorola and its executives have given more 
than $70,000 in soft money and more than $177,000 in PAC money during 
the period.
  And of course ABLI is comprised of giants in the software industry, 
who have also joined in the political money game.
  The software company Oracle and its executives have given more than 
$536,000 in soft money during the period, and its PAC has given $45,000 
to federal candidates.
  Executives of Cisco Systems have given more than $372,000 in soft 
money since the beginning of this election cycle.
  And Microsoft gave very generously during the period, with more than 
$1.7 million in soft money and more than half a million in PAC money.
  But I should also point out, Mr. President, that the lobbying on this 
issue is hardly one sided.
  Many unions are lobbying against it, including the Communication 
Workers of America, which gave $1.9 million in soft money during the 
period, including two donations of a quarter of a million dollars last 
year. And CWA's PAC gave more than $960,000 to candidates during the 
  The lobbying group Federation for American Immigration Reform, or 
``FAIR,'' has lobbied furiously against this bill with a print, radio 
and television campaign, which has cost somewhere between $500,000 and 
$1 million, according to an estimate in Roll Call.
  This is standard procedure these days for wealthy interests--you have 
to pay to play on the field of politics. You have got to pony up for 
quarter-million dollar soft money contributions and half-million dollar 
issue ad campaigns, and anyone who cannot afford the price of admission 
is going to be left out in the cold.
  Thus, I believe that campaign finance is very much tied up in why the 
Senate considered the H-1B bill these past two weeks. I believe that 
campaign finance is very much tied up in why the Senate considered the 
H-1B bill under the tortured circumstances that it did. This is just 
another reason why I believe that this Senate must consider and vote on 
amendments that deal with campaign finance reform.
  The momentum is building on campaign finance reform. In recent days, 
more and more candidates have offered to swear off soft money and have 
called for commitments from their opponents

[[Page S9444]]

to do without soft money in their campaigns. More and more candidates 
are coming to the realization that taking soft money is a political 
liability. The days of soft money are numbered, and this shadow Senate 
cannot long hide from the political reality.
  Beyond that subject, there are other important subjects that the 
majority leader is blocking with his heavy-handed tactics. The Senate 
may just have considered a bill dealing with immigrants, but the Senate 
has thus far failed to consider a discussion of a particular injustice 
that could well affect their lives, as well.
  The INS's May report showed that most of those for whom they approved 
H-1B visas during the period for which data were available came here 
from countries of the developing world. As a large number of those 
receiving H-1B visas are people of color, many could become subject to 
the indefensible practice of racial profiling.
  If this Senate can find the time to consider H-1B legislation, I 
believe that it should also find the time to consider an amendment that 
addresses the issue of racial profiling.
  Let me begin my discussion of racial profiling by acknowledging the 
leadership of Congressman John Conyers and our friend in this body, 
Senator Frank Lautenberg, the principal authors of the legislation to 
address this very real problem.
  The problem is this: Millions of African Americans, Hispanic 
Americans, immigrants, and other Americans of racial or ethnic minority 
backgrounds who drive on our Nation's streets and highways are subject 
to being stopped for no apparent reason other than the color of their 
  This practice, known as racial profiling, targets drivers for 
heightened scrutiny or harassment because of the color of their skin. 
Some call it ``DWB,'' ``Driving While Black,'' or ``Driving While 
Brown.'' Of course, not all or even most law enforcement officers 
engage in this terrible practice. The vast majority of our men and 
women in blue are honorable people who fulfill their duties without 
engaging in racial profiling, but the experience of many Americans of 
color has demonstrated that the practice is very real.
  There are some law enforcement agencies or officers in our country 
who have decided that if you are a person of color, you are more likely 
to be trafficking drugs or engaged in other illegal activities than a 
white person, despite statistical evidence to the contrary. In a May 
1999 report, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that along I-
95 in Maryland, while only roughly 17 percent of the total drivers and 
traffic violators were African American, an astonishing 73 percent of 
the drivers searched were African American. The legislation that 
Senator Lautenberg and I have sponsored would allow us to get an even 
better picture.
  In America, all should have the right to travel from place to place 
free of this unjustified government harassment. None should have to 
endure this incredibly humiliating experience--and sometimes even a 
physically threatening one--on the roadsides or in the backseat of 
police cruisers.
  This practice also damages the trust between law enforcement and the 
community. Where can people of color turn for help when they believe 
that the men and women in uniform cannot be trusted? As one Hispanic-
American testified earlier this year in Glencoe, IL, after his family 
experienced racial profiling, ``Who is there left to protect us? The 
police just violated us.''
  Racial profiling chips away at the important trust that law 
enforcement agencies take great pains to develop with the community. 
When that trust is broken, it can lead to an escalation of tensions 
between the police and the community. It can lead to detrimental 
effects on our criminal justice system--like jury nullification and the 
failure to convict criminals at all--because some in the communities no 
longer believes the police officer on the witness stand. Racial 
profiling is bad policing, and it has a ripple effect whose 
consequences are only beginning to be felt.

  In just the last year and a half, since we introduced the traffic 
stops statistics study bill, we have already seen increased awareness 
of this problem in the law enforcement community, and an increased 
willingness to address it. A growing number of police departments are 
beginning to collect traffic stops data voluntarily. Over 100 law 
enforcement agencies nationwide--including State police agencies like 
the Michigan State Police--have now decided to collect data 
voluntarily. Eleven State legislatures have passed data collection 
bills in the last year or so. This is tremendous progress from where we 
were when the bill was introduced. I applaud those states and I applaud 
law enforcement agencies that are collecting data on their own.
  But these State and local efforts underscore the need for a Federal 
role in collecting and analyzing traffic stops data to give Congress 
and the public a national picture of the extent of the racial profiling 
problem and lay the groundwork for national solutions to end this 
horrendous practice. While we can applaud individual states and law 
enforcement agencies for taking action, combating racial discrimination 
is one area where a Federal role is essential. Our citizens have a 
right to expect us to act.
  I am pleased to have joined my distinguished colleague from New 
Jersey, Senator Lautenberg, in introducing S. 821, a companion bill to 
the bill introduced in the House by Representatives John Conyers and 
Robert Menendez. The bill would require the Attorney General to conduct 
an initial analysis of existing data on racial profiling and then 
design a study to gather data from a nationwide sampling of 
  This is a straightforward bill that requires only that the Attorney 
General conduct a study. It doesn't tell police officers how to do 
their jobs. And it doesn't mandate data collection by police 
departments. The Attorney General's sampling study would be based on 
data collected from police departments that voluntarily agree to 
participate in the Justice Department study.
  I cannot emphasize enough that this traffic stops study bill is a 
truly modest proposal. Some would even say it's a conservative 
proposal. The American people have become so much more aware of the 
issue over the last year, and so many law enforcement agencies and 
State governments have expressed interest in addressing the issue, that 
many people are now saying that a study bill does not go far enough. 
They argue that we have enough data; we know racial profiling exists; 
we do not need to study it more; let's just end it. I understand this 
sentiment. This is a modest, reasonable proposal that, I hope, will lay 
the groundwork for developing ways to end racial profiling once and for 
  Only last month, the son of the great civil rights leader Martin 
Luther King Jr. led a march on the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate his 
father's legacy. His father inspired a nation 37 years ago when he 
said, in words that echoed throughout the world and have been etched in 
history, that he had a dream that one day racial justice would flow 
like a mighty river. Sadly, our Nation has not fulfilled that dream. As 
Martin Luther King III noted, racial profiling continues to harm 
Americans and erodes the important trust that should exist between law 
enforcement and the people they serve and protect.
  President Clinton has endorsed S. 821, and last June he directed 
federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting and reporting data 
on the race, ethnicity and gender of the people they stop and search at 
our Nation's borders and airports. A coalition of civil rights and law 
enforcement organizations--including the ACLU, the NAACP, the National 
Council of La Raza, and the National Organization of Black Law 
Enforcement Executives--also support this legislation. I am pleased 
that 20 Senators have joined to cosponsor the bill, and I am hopeful 
that if allowed to come to a vote, my amendment would enjoy broad 
support. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill by voice 
vote in the 105th Congress, and this March, the House Judiciary 
Committee passed the bill again. It's time we passed it in the Senate, 
  Racial profiling and soft money campaign finance reform are issues 
that deserve consideration in the Senate. Regrettably, the procedures 
that the majority leader employed to consider the H-1B bill and too 
many other bills have so far blocked their consideration. Before this 
Senate adjourns sine die, I

[[Page S9445]]

hope that we will have an opportunity to address these, and many other 
issues that demand attention. If it fails to, this Senate's mark in 
history will be no more permanent than a shadow.
  Mr. President, I yield the floor.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bennett). Without objection, it is so 
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, the junior Senator from Alabama is on the 
floor. I want to express publicly my appreciation. We had a Senator 
over here who had some time problems. He graciously allowed him to go 
first, for which I am very grateful, something he did not have to do. 
He did it because he is a southern gentleman. I appreciate it very 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.