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[Congressional Record: October 30, 2000 (House)]
[Page H11608-H11617]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                              {time}  1830
                          FINAL BUDGET ISSUES

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Walden of Oregon). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 6, 1999, the gentleman from New York (Mr. 
Owens) is recognized for 60 minutes....
  Mr. OWENS. ........
   We ought to make the decisions also related to immigration fairness. 
We have a bill called the Latino and Other Immigrant Fairness Act, 
which is called the Latino and Other Immigrant Fairness Act, but it 
does include critical problems related to immigration in general, 
critical problems which covers all of the crisis situations that we 
face right now in immigration.
  We face a crisis problem with respect to certain Central American 
people having receiving permanent status, certain Haitians receiving 
permanent status, and Liberians. There are a lot of critical problems 
that are wrapped up here in this Latino and Other Immigrant Fairness 
  The issue of 245(i), which relates to people renewing their permanent 
status without having to leave the country is critical throughout the 
entire country overall of the immigrant groups. That is in the bill.
  The issue of the registry for amnesty where we had a cutoff date of 
1972 in the last amnesty bill, and the request is that we move that 
registry date to 1986 so that anybody who had been in the country for 
10 years up to 1986 would be eligible for amnesty and could apply.

                              {time}  1845

  A very humane gesture because these are people who are already in the 
country. They have been in the country for a long time, 10, 15, 20 
years; and we are just going to recognize the fact that they are here, 
they are paying taxes, they are working. So let us move to try to 
regularize their status by giving them permanent residency and allowing 
them to move on and apply for citizenship.

[[Page H11610]]

  This does not mean that we are opening up the gates for a flood of 
immigrants to illegally come into this country. It means we have a 
common sense problem, and we would like to solve that problem. That is 
one of the issues still on the radar screen, one of the points of 
controversy. I want to congratulate the White House and the President, 
this administration, for insisting that we confront this problem and 
deal with the humanitarian dimensions of it now, not next year. Right 
  We had an immigration problem of another kind that we dealt with 
speedily, the H-1B problem, where industry, corporations, have a great 
need for professional manpower that can handle the kind of needs that 
they have, information technology needs, most of them, needs related to 
the digital world, computers, programming of software and hardware, of 
various problems in the complex digital computer information technology 
world. They cannot find the people to fill all of the vacancies. That 
will go on for a long time because our education system is not 
generating, not producing the people to fill those jobs.
  We acted quickly on that one. That is an immigration piece. We raised 
the quota, and now we have a situation where 195,000 new people in the 
professional area mostly, information technology, can come in each 
year. They can come in each year, so that over a 3-year period it is 
close to 600,000 professionals who have that capacity that are allowed 
in. We have a need; we met the need.
  The Democrats, the administration are contending that we have a 
humanitarian need. We have a need to regularize the lives of the people 
who have been here 10, 15 years and let them begin to move towards 
citizenship. We have a need to do that. We have a need to stop the pain 
and suffering caused by the regulations related to 245(i), which deny 
people the opportunity to go home and visit their relatives and then 
come back without having to deal with long stays away in order to 
qualify for an adjustment of status and other problems relating to 
that. We have a need to deal with the Liberians, the Haitians, the 
Central Americans who have been stranded for various reasons. We need 
to have the relief of this Latino and other immigrant fairness bill.
  So that is another item on the agenda. We have the health care, we 
have HMO and prescription medicine benefit, we have the Latino and 
other immigrant fairness act. We have a few other things that are 
important, but those are two items that are very important that are on 
the agenda, and we would like to see them remain there until they are 
resolved in a positive and productive way.
  We congratulate the administration. The power of the White House in 
this end game negotiation is considerable. I have tried to explain the 
process before. We have come to the point now where it is a Republican-
controlled Congress, the other body as well. The whole Congress, House 
and Senate, is controlled by Republicans. They have the majority, they 
have the votes, they can do pretty much what they want to without the 
input of the Democrats who are now in the minority. Our only hope is 
that the Democratically controlled administration, the executive 
branch, the White House, will balance off the power of the Republican-
controlled Congress.
  That is what happens in these so-called end game negotiations. The 
end game negotiations are underway now. And that is why we are stuck 
here week after week, because the end game negotiations have been 
deliberately slowed down as part of the strategy of the Republican 
majority in the hopes that they can wear out the patience of the 
administration and of the Democrats.
  These items I just mentioned are too important to be given up by 
default. As long as it is necessary for us to stay here, we ought to 
stay here to get a prescription medicine benefit in this Congress. As 
long as it is necessary to stay here, we should stay to get an HMO bill 
of rights; we should stay to get a Latino and other immigrant fairness 
bill, a bill which includes amnesty, a 245(i) adjustment and a 
blanketing of the categories of Central Americans, Liberians and 
Haitians, who have been left out there with a questionable status.
  There is one very important breakthrough that I would like to report, 
particularly to my own district, on this whole matter of immigration 
before I go on to school construction, that last and most important of 
the business items that we have here on the agenda of the Congress. 
School construction I will talk about in more detail, but before I do 
that, I am happy to report, and this is another example of the 
executive branch taking the initiative, doing what it can do in a very 
humanitarian spirit to relieve suffering of people, that the extension 
of the designation of Montserrat under the temporary protective status 

  It is important that there is a notice that extends the Attorney 
General's designation of Montserrat under the temporary protective 
status program until the year 2001. August 27, 2001. So we have an 
extension that goes for almost a year for people in Montserrat who need 
temporary protected status.
  Eligible nationals of Montserrat may reregister for temporary 
protective status and an extension of employment authorization. 
Reregistration is limited to persons who registered during the initial 
registration period, which ended August 27, 1998. All who registered 
after that date under the late initial registration provision, persons 
who are eligible for late initial registration, may register for the 
temporary protective status during this extension.
  The extension, as I said before, goes until August 27, 2001. The 
reregistration period began August 2, 2000; and it will remain in 
effect until November 1 of 2000. In other words, there are 2 days. This 
breakthrough that was realized and announced on October 2 was a bit 
late when it was announced, but on that date the registration process 
began. But people only have until November 1, which is 2 days from now, 
to reregister.
  Now, Montserrat has suffered one of the most cataclysmic natural 
disasters in this hemisphere of the last 50 years. Montserrat is a very 
tiny country. At least a third of the country has been wiped out by a 
volcanic eruption. It is rapidly becoming an island that is 
uninhabitable. There is some worry about whether the nation of 
Montserrat will survive. But in the meantime, for those people who had 
to flee the island, special temporary protected status was given as 
part of the great humanity of the American people and how our 
government reacts to natural disasters. We ought to be congratulated 
for taking them in, first; and now there is an extension, which did not 
have to have the approval of Congress or we might not have gotten it. 
This extension will carry them until August of 2001, and we hope that 
more can be done to resolve the problems related to the great natural 
disaster of Montserrat in the meantime.
  So that is a positive breakthrough in the immigration area. It is a 
very tiny amount when compared to what we are requesting in terms of 
the need to pass the Latino and other immigrant fairness act. That act 
would include, and I wanted to summarize for the last time, it would 
include an expansion of the 1997 legislation to include refugees from 
Central America, Haiti, and Liberia who were unjustifiably excluded 
from the opportunity to apply for permanent residency. It will 
permanently extend section 245(i) to allow individuals who qualify for 
a green card to obtain a visa without first leaving the country. It 
would move the registry date for those individuals who can demonstrate 
that they have maintained a continued presence in the U.S. from 1972 to 
1986, providing an overdue and well-deserved opportunity to individuals 
who have been living, working and paying taxes in the United States. In 
addition, for those individuals who have been in this country since 
1985, the bill would allow them to adjust to legal permanent resident 
  Now, this bill was proposed to be part of the Commerce, Justice, 
State appropriation. The President made it quite clear that if this was 
not included as part of that appropriation bill he would not sign the 
act, and that is part of the process that is going on now. The strong 
stand and position taken by the White House is to be commended. We 
congratulate the President and hope that he will continue to insist 
that the 106th Congress should not adjourn without bringing immigration 
relief to

[[Page H11611]]

 the people who deserve that kind of relief.
  Those are three items that are on the screen, two items on the screen 
other than the one that I started with, which I deem to be not more 
important than immigration, not more important than health care, but 
critical in terms of where our civilization is going. Our Nation at 
this point has made an unprecedented breakthrough. We are ahead of 
Europe, we are ahead of Japan, we are ahead of all our industrial 
rivals in the area of the digital economy. We have made some 
breakthroughs which put us out there, and we can maintain that lead and 
maintain the unprecedented prosperity that we now experience if we 
continue to generate the kind of resources needed to fuel and drive the 
information technology industries, the cyber-activities, the digital 
economy activities. But brainpower is needed.
  The critical thing we need now, unlike industrial revolutions in the 
past where the natural resources often determined the wealth of a 
nation, if a country was lucky enough to have oil, then the nation had 
a great advantage. An industry can grow up related to the uses of oil 
and petrochemicals, and there are a whole series of things that relate 
to oil. If an area was fortunate to have coal, the coal mining areas 
had certain advantages because of that natural resource. If an area was 
fortunate to have iron ore or coal and iron ore near each other, then 
the steel industry certainly saw advantages there and developed in 
those areas. If someone was fortunate enough, of course, to have 
discovered gold, gold or silver, those are obvious metals that all over 
the world command a great price. So natural resources determine wealth, 
and the wealthiest people in America for a long time were people who 
had control over natural resources.

  There were people who had control over the natural resources and used 
them to industrialize, to create the steel and the various products out 
of the natural resources, and they became the wealthiest people. Now 
the wealthiest people in the world are people who do not necessarily 
have the fortunate or good luck to have discovered a pool of oil, oil 
wells, or the gold mine, a whole set of coal fields; but the people who 
have the greatest wealth now are people who are masters of the 
utilization of brainpower. Brainpower is the most powerful force in the 
world right now. Brainpower.
  Who has the brains to make use of all the opportunities that have 
opened up by the revolution in information technology, the revolution 
in the digital world, the use of computers in 100 different ways, a 
thousand different ways? The application of computers is almost 
infinite. There is no limit on the application of computers, and the 
use of digitalized equipment of various kinds except the limits of our 
brainpower. As the brainpower increases directly in proportion, we have 
these utilizations increase. New discoveries make it easier every day, 
and so the industry is changing.
  The fact that the stock market right now is in a situation where the 
digital industries are sort of being questioned as generators of income 
and as investment opportunities, it is all a passing phase. It will not 
last long.

                              {time}  1900

  It is an adjustment of an enthusiasm that maybe got out of control. 
But it is clear, and we do not have to be a rocket scientist or even a 
sophomore in college to see the way of the future is clearly the way of 
digitalization. The way of the computer is the way we are going.
  It is like when automobiles were first invented and automobiles even 
first began to roll off the assembly line, assumptions were made that 
there will always be only automobiles for rich people, that only rich 
people could own automobiles, and that the automobile was something so 
special that it was not going to affect the entire society. But the 
automobile has transformed and the offspring of automobiles transformed 
the entire society. We have the culture of the car, an automotive 
culture. And not just the richest and most powerful people involved, at 
every level down to the poorest people have some junky, used car. If 
they want wheels, they can get them or they are involved as drivers in 
the economy or in the economy as mechanics or mechanic's helpers.
  It is just a transformation which touched every level of our society. 
That was a small development compared to what computers are doing and 
will do. Computers will move more rapidly. The digitalization of the 
economy, digitalization of activities, whether they are nonprofit 
activities or profit activities or military activities, everything will 
move more rapidly, it will spread across the world more rapidly because 
it is not as expensive and not as difficult to move about and maneuver 
as automobiles were and are still.
  Computers are already in the far corners of the Earth. There are 
people who have never seen a car who have seen the benefits of 
computers. There are things happening in third world countries and in 
remote regions of the Earth with respect to computers which are 
  So we have the leadership. We are ahead of everybody else. We are the 
driving force in a cyber civilization that has begun already. And yet, 
in this 106th Congress, the midget minds and the petty souls are such 
that they are not willing to take advantage of this opportunity where 
at the same time we can surge ahead in this cyber civilization. The 
opening is there. The opportunity is there.
  We also have the resources. We have a $230 billion surplus. To apply 
just a small part of that surplus in a constructive way toward 
education in order to increase the pool of brain power that America has 
available would gain immense dividends. And you do not have to be a 
rocket scientist to see it. If brain power is the power that is now 
driving the world, then the students and the children out there in all 
parts of America, whether it is a rural poor area or the inner-city 
areas, they are all potential resources that should be developed.
  Some of them may never become computer programmers. Most of them will 
not. Most of them will not become computer scientists. Most of them 
will not get in the high theoretical mathematics that relate to 
computers. But there is no reason why somewhere in the chain where you 
have computer scientists, you have technicians, you have mechanics, you 
have mechanic's helpers, you have the school aides who apply help to 
teachers to apply to computers.
  There is a whole world. If you look at automobiles and all the people 
that are related to automobiles, the salesmen and the auto parts shops 
and the car wash people, there is a whole range of people who have 
gotten involved in the culture of the automobile. The culture of the 
computer will involve many more people.
  And when we focus our education effort in a way which anticipates 
this need, we increase our ability to maintain our leadership in the 
world in this area. If we have to rely on foreign input, and I am not 
against foreigners, I am not against immigration, you just heard my 
arguments before, I am not against spreading the wealth by hiring a 
large amount of people from all over the world, but if you rely on that 
repeatedly, then you are going to be draining away resources from the 
  The people that are coming here to learn eventually will go back and 
develop the competition. We have seen that in several instances with 
respect to the automobile industry. I remember shortly after World War 
II they were importing large numbers of students from Holland and 
France and training them in Detroit as engineers and design specialists 
and so forth and they were working for our companies here. They took it 
all home eventually. And we have competitors, of course, in Europe and 
Japan. A large number of those competitors were trained here.
  It is not the worst thing in the world, but they do not pay into the 
Social Security fund here. They do not generate the businesses here 
that are taxed and can provide the revenue that we need to run our 
society. And on and on it goes.
  There is a limit to the great generosity that prevails now. It may be 
a fact that most people cannot comprehend but one-half of all the 
students in our graduate schools who are in science and engineering are 
foreigners. They are not Americans. And the percentage of foreign 
students in our programs for graduate science and engineering, computer 
science, et cetera, has been increasing, not decreasing.

[[Page H11612]]

  The percentage increases because the number of students from our own 
American base school systems are going into science and those areas is 
decreasing, not increasing rapidly enough to keep pace with the need.
  The number of vacancies is not being exaggerated. The information 
technology world said last year they had 300,000 vacancies that would 
not be filled with the new crop of college graduates because their 
survey showed that there are colleges that do not have the people that 
are being prepared to come out and take these jobs. And it increases 
geometrically. There will be 600,000 after that. And then it will keep 
growing and expanding, and we will be overwhelmed by a situation where 
there is so much more that could be done and so many things are being 
attempted that the frustration will be tremendous. The lost 
opportunities will be tremendous.
  So that is the background that I give for my final statement for the 
night, and that is we need to reform and improve education right across 
the board. Education needs help in many areas. We have proposed in the 
Congressional Black Caucus an alternative budget way back in the spring 
when we introduced the budget. We proposed that 10 percent of the 
surplus be dedicated to the improvement of education........