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[Congressional Record: October 27, 2000 (House)]
[Page H11412]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. ENGEL. Madam Speaker, several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to 
address this body and talk about my bill, the Caribbean Amnesty and 
Relief Act, and I would like to speak about it again.
  I am very proud to introduce the Caribbean Amnesty and Relief Act, 
which is legislation to reduce the devastating impact on the Caribbean 
community caused by the 1996 Immigration Reform bill.
  The people of the Caribbean Basin have always been loyal friends of 
the United States. At the height of the Cold War, the United States 
looked to the Caribbean nations to fight the infiltration of Cuban-
style Communism.
  As a result, the Caribbean countries suffered political upheaval, and 
the people of the Caribbean fled to the United States to escape human 
rights abuses and economic hardship.
  People of the Caribbean have now established roots in the United 
States, many in my congressional district. Many have married here and 
many have children that were born in the United States.
  The economic structure of the Caribbean is such that it cannot absorb 
the great number of undocumented people now present in the United 
  Our country, in my opinion, should grant the Caribbean population 
already in the United States amnesty since they have been here so long 
and continue to benefit the United States economy.
  The Jamaicans, for example, present in the United States, send back 
to their families 800 million in U.S. dollars per year. The Jamaican 
economy would be severely strained if that money were to disappear.
  In 1997, Congress recognized that the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Responsibility Act would result in grave injustices to certain 
communities, and so we passed the Nicaraguan and Central American 
Relief Act but left out Caribbeans. I believe that that was very 
  We need to pass legislation which will help the Caribbean community; 
thus, I am proud to take the lead on the Caribbean Amnesty and Relief 
  I would like to again tell my colleagues what this would do. This 
bill would allow for an adjustment for permanent residents for 
Caribbean nationals who have lived and worked in the United States 
prior to September 30, 1996 and have applied for an adjustment of 
status before April 1, 2002.
  This means that Caribbeans who have been in the U.S. prior to 
September 30, 1996 without proper documentation can receive green 
  The bill provides for spouses and children of those who have become 
permanent residents under section (a) to also become permanent 
residents of the U.S. if they apply before April 1, 2002.
  The bill establishes a Visa Fairness Commission, which will study 
economic and racial profiling by American consulates abroad and customs 
and immigration inspectors at U.S. points of entry.
  The purpose of this section is to determine whether there is 
discrimination against Caribbeans and others when applying for a visa 
or upon entering the United States.
  In addition, this section would allow for the Secretary of State to 
waive the visa fee for those who are too poor to pay.
  Again, it is imperative that we try to unite families. It is 
unconscionable that we would have families here in the United States 
and others in the Caribbean nations who want to be reunited but through 
loopholes cannot be.
  We are also concerned about the arbitrariness of people who are 
granted green cards and some people who are not able to get green 
cards. We think that much of this is done in an arbitrary manner.
  Madam Speaker, this is important legislation, and I urge the House to 
give it favorable consideration as soon as possible. We are, after all, 
dealing with people's lives. I look upon immigration as a good thing 
for this country. Immigrants built this country. The reason why this 
country has done so well through the years is because the best and the 
brightest from all over the world have come to these shores, as my four 
grandparents did many, many years ago, and have helped to build this 
  What kind of a person emigrates to these shores? It is not a lazy 
person. It is someone who is willing to put aside all of the customs 
and cultures, leaving family behind and coming to this country is 
certainly an industrious, hard-working person who just wants to be 
given a chance.
  That is what the United States has meant to millions and millions and 
millions of people through the years, for people to just have a chance. 
It is a win-win situation, because, in terms of helping the families, 
we are also helping this country.
  Again, if we do not do it as this term winds down to an end, I will 
be reintroducing this in the next Congress, and I hope we can move so 
that this travesty of families being broken apart can be ended and that 
we can finally give relief to people who need it, helping them, helping 
their families and helping this country as well.
  Madam Speaker, I urge this House to give my legislation favorable 
consideration as soon as possible.



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