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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

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[Congressional Record: October 19, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S10841]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr19oc00-302]                         



 
              AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT

  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
now proceed to the consideration of H.R. 4068, which is at the desk.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 4068) to amend the Immigration and Nationality 
     Act to extend for an additional 3 years the special immigrant 
     religious worker program.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I rise today to call on the Senate to 
support H.R. 4068, which will extend the religious worker visa for an 
additional three years. I am a cosponsor and strong supporter of Senate 
legislation that would make permanent the provisions of our immigration 
law that provide for special immigrant visas for religious workers 
sponsored by religious organizations in the United States. These visas 
allow religious denominations or organizations in the United States to 
bring in foreign nationals to perform religious work here. This modest 
program--which provides for up to 5,000 religious immigrant visas a 
year--was created in the Immigration Act of 1990, and has been extended 
ever since. Although I believe the program should be made permanent, I 
am willing to support a three-year extension given the lateness of the 
session and the fact that the program expired upon last week's end of 
the fiscal year.
  The importance of this program to America's religious community has 
been demonstrated by the fact that leaders from a variety of faiths 
have come to Congress both this year and in past years to testify on 
its behalf. It is also important to note, however, that these religious 
workers contribute significantly not just to their religious 
communities, but to the community as a whole. They work in hospitals, 
nursing homes, and homeless shelters. They help immigrants and refugees 
adjust to the United States. In other words, they perform vital tasks 
that too often go undone.
  I have worked on this issue consistently over the years. Most 
recently, I cosponsored a bill in 1997 that would have made this 
program permanent. We were forced in that year as well to settle for a 
3-year extension of the program. It is my hope and expectation that 
this will be the last short-term extension of this program, and that 
the substantial benefit that our country has derived from this program 
will lead us to make the program permanent 3 years from now.
  Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
read a third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the 
table, and that any statements relating to the bill be printed in the 
Record.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The bill (H.R. 4068) was read the third time and passed.

                          ____________________





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