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[Congressional Record: October 29, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S11342-S11343]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, another issue in which this Republican 
Congress is ignoring working families is immigration.
  Action on the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act is long overdue. The 
issues in this legislation are not new to Congress. The immigrant 
community--particularly the Latino community--has waited far too long 
for the fundamental fairness this legislation will provide.
  The Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act keeps families together. It 
rewards immigrants who work hard and pay taxes, and it makes our 
immigration policies simpler and fairer.
  Our proposal is based on the fundamental principle that immigrants in 
similar situations should be treated equally. The Latino and Immigrant 
Fairness Act includes parity for all Central Americans, and for 
Haitians and Liberians. In 1997, Congress enacted legislation granting 
permanent residence to Nicaraguans and Cubans who had fled their 
repressive governments. But Congress did not grant the same protection 
to other Central Americans and Haitians. The Latino and Immigrant 
Fairness Act will eliminate these disparities and create fair, uniform 
procedures for all of these immigrants.
  The Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act will also change the registry 
cut-off date, so that long-time immigrants who have been residing in 
this country since before 1986 will qualify to remain in the United 
States permanently, and it will restore a provision to the immigration 
laws that was unfairly allowed to expire in 1997.
  These proposals are pro-family, pro-business, fiscally prudent, and a 
matter of common sense. But that hasn't stopped the Republican 
leadership from opposing them and offering a blatantly inadequate 
substitute that pays lip service to fairness for Latinos and immigrants 
in our communities but denies them real help.
  Under even the most generous interpretation, the Republican proposal 
ignores the vast majority of immigrants and families. It will 
perpetuate the current patchwork of contradictory and discriminatory 
provisions enacted by the Republican Congress in recent years.
  Republicans propose two things. First, a new temporary ``V'' visa 
would be created that allows certain spouses and minor children of 
lawful permanent residents to enter or stay in the U.S. and be granted 
work authorization while waiting for their green card. To qualify for 
the visa, applicants must have had applications for entry pending for 
over three years.
  On the surface, this may sound like a good idea. But it unfairly 
picks and chooses among family members, granting relief to some, but 
not to others. The GOP proposal perpetuates the piecemeal and 
discriminatory immigration policies we are seeking to end.
  Second, the Republican plan would provide an opportunity for 
individuals to apply for green cards--but only if they were part of two 
particular class action lawsuits against the INS for improper handling 
of the 1986 amnesty program. This selective proposal is grossly 
inadequate. It provides relief only for individuals who sought counsel 
from a specific lawyer and joined a specific lawsuit, even though 

[[Page S11343]]

other individuals affected by the INS ruling are left out. Also, of 
those people who are actually covered by this plan, less than 40 
percent are expected to prevail.
  Republicans acknowledge that the 1986 law was implemented unfairly. 
It is wrong and inconsistent to deny a remedy to all who were affected. 
It is wrong to help only those who were able to hire the right 
attorney, and who filled out the right forms. All eligible individuals 
should receive relief.
  Governor Bush praises his trillion dollar tax break for the wealthy, 
and criticizes Democrats for supporting targeted tax relief that helps 
some individuals, but not others. It's obvious that Republicans don't 
care about uniformity when the issue is immigration. It's unfair and 
unjust to pick and choose among immigrants who will receive this well-
deserved and long-overdue relief.
  We have welcomed these individuals to the United States. They are 
part of our communities. We have come to know them as neighbors, 
friends, and colleagues. We should support those who have come here in 
their search for freedom, equality, and a better life. These are the 
same dreams our ancestors came here to find in the past.
  It is essential to pass the real Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act 
and treat immigrants fairly. Hard-working immigrant families deserve 
this long-overdue relief, and they deserve it now.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The minority controls the remainder of the 
  Mr. REID. I yield that time to Senator Dorgan.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota is recognized 
for 9 minutes 17 seconds.



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