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[Congressional Record: October 13, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S10544-S10545]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


 Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
 proceed to consideration of H.R. 4681.
 The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
 The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

 A bill (H.R. 4681) to provide for the adjustment of status 
 of certain Syrian nationals.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I rise today to applaud the passage of a 
bill that will grant permanent residency status to a small group of 
Syrian Jews who fled the brutal dictatorship of Hafez Assad almost a 
decade ago.
In 1992, through negotiations between our State Department and the 
Syrian regime, President Assad allowed the last remnants of Syria's 
Jewish community to leave Syria. For years, this community faced 
religious persecution, restrictions on the right to travel and 
emigrate, and other forms of harassment. When Assad finally agreed to 
let them go, he insisted that they come to this country as tourists, 
rather than as refugees fleeing religious tyranny, in order to avoid 
the appearance that his repression had driven out a considerable number 
of his own citizens. We permitted this fiction in order to rescue 
people desperate for freedom, but obviously, the 2000 Syrian Jews who 
came here in 1992 were never tourists--they were seeking a permanent 
home and a life free of religious and political oppression.
Once safely in the United States, the Syrian Jews had no choice but 
to request asylum, and asylum was granted. But because of the long 
delays that asylees face in obtaining permanent resident status, the 
Syrian Jews still have not become permanent residents and gotten green 
cards. If they had come to the United States as the refugees they truly 
were, instead of as tourists, they would have become permanent 
residents years ago because there is no annual cap on the number of 
refugees permitted to move to permanent residency.
The Syrian Jews have suffered for years because of this situation, 
imposed on them by the terms of the secret 1992 deal with Assad. 
Without green cards, those among them who are doctors and dentists, as 
many are, are unable to practice their professions under the New York 
State licensing system. As asylees, the Syrian Jews face restrictions 
on their right to travel abroad. Finally and most important, the Syrian 
Jews have been stalled for years in the efforts to become full citizens 
of our country, something all of them ardently want.
This legislation corrects this anomaly and directs the Attorney 
General to grant permanent resident status to the Syrian Jews who came 
here in 1992. This will give this small group of people the immigration 
status they should have had years ago, but for the fiction that they 
were coming to the United States as tourists. It will permit them to 
begin practicing their chosen professions and moving toward full 
citizenship. It will finally effectuate the agreement by which they 
emigrated from Syria in the first place. Most of all, it will guarantee 
the full blessings of liberty to people who want nothing more than to 
live in peace in a land where the government doesn't mistreat you 
simply because of your religion.
Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
read the third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon 
the table, and any statements relating to the bill be printed in the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

[[Page S10545]]

  The bill (H.R. 4681) was read the third time and passed.