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[Congressional Record: October 19, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S10843]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                        EDUCATION LAND GRANT ACT

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent the Chair lay 
before the Senate a message from the House of Representatives on the 
bill (S. 2812).
  There being no objection, the Presiding Officer laid before the 
Senate the following message from the House of Representatives:

       Resolved, That the bill from the Senate (S. 2812) entitled 
     ``An Act to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
     provide a waiver of the oath of renunciation and allegiance 
     for naturalization of aliens having certain disabilities'', 
     do pass with the following amendment:
       Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert:


       Section 337(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
     U.S.C. 1448(a)) is amended by adding at the end the 

     ``The Attorney General may waive the taking of the oath by a 
     person if in the opinion of the Attorney General the person 
     is unable to understand, or to communicate an understanding 
     of, its meaning because of a physical or developmental 
     disability or mental impairment. If the Attorney General 
     waives the taking of the oath by a person under the preceding 
     sentence, the person shall be considered to have met the 
     requirements of section 316(a)(3) with respect to attachment 
     to the principles of the Constitution and well disposition to 
     the good order and happiness of the United States.''.


       The amendment made by section 1 shall apply to persons 
     applying for naturalization before, on, or after the date of 
     the enactment of this Act.

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I rise to thank my colleagues for 
unanimously agreeing to pass S. 2812, a bill introduced earlier this 
year by Senator hatch and myself to amend the Immigration and 
nationality Act to eliminate a barrier that has prevented persons with 
certain mental disabilities from becoming United States citizens. By 
passing this bill today, Congress will make our immigration policy more 
fair and more humane.
  The bill we will pass today will not dramatically change or improve 
our immigration policies--that work remains to be done--but this bill 
will make a big difference in the lives of a few American families--
families like the Dowds, the Costas, the Wickers, and the Teixlers of 
Connecticut. Back in July, I explained why we need to pass this 
legislation. I told a story about a young man named Mathieu. Mathieu's 
family--his mother, his father, and his sister--have all become 
naturalized U.S. citizens. But Mathieu has not been allowed to become a 
citizen because he's a 23-year-old autistic man who cannot swear an 
oath of loyalty to the United States, which is required as part of the 
naturalization process. His naturalization request has been in limbo 
since November of 1996 because Mathieu could not understand some of the 
questions he was asked by the INS agent processing his application for 
citizenship. For years Mathieu's mother has lived in fear that her most 
vulnerable child could be removed from the country and sent to a nation 
that he hardly knows, and where he has no family or friends.
  As I explained in July, Mathieu's mother--again, a United States 
citizen--wants what every American in her position would want. She 
wants to know that all of her children, including her most vulnerable 
child, will have the protections of citizenship. Mathieu's life is 
here. His friends and caregivers are here. His family is here. 
Mathieu's place is here, and now, with the passage of this bill, 
Mathieu's mother can rest easy because Mathieu can join the rest of his 
family as a U.S. citizen.
  This legislation has not been the subject of great debate, but it is 
an important correction for us to make. I thank Catherine Cushman, and 
attorney who works for the Connecticut Office of Protection and 
Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, for bringing this issue to my 
attention. I also thank Catholic Charities, USA for their guidance and 
expertise on this matter. Finally, I thank Senator Hatch, Senator 
DeWine, Senator Feingold, Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy, and 
Senator Kohl for their support of this bill.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
agree to the amendment of the House.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.