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

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

[Congressional Record: October 31, 2000 (House)]
[Page H11699-H11701]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr31oc00-67]                         



 
 PROVIDING FOR SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR CERTAIN U.S. INTERNATIONAL 
                         BROADCASTING EMPLOYEES

  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
Senate bill (S. 3239) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
provide special immigrant status for certain United States 
international broadcasting employees.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                S. 3239

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR CERTAIN UNITED STATES 
                   INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING EMPLOYEES.

       (a) Special Immigrant Category.--Section 101(a)(27) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)) is 
     amended--
       (1) by striking ``or'' at the end of subparagraph (K);
       (2) by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (L); 
     and
       (3) by adding at the end the following new subparagraph:
       ``(M) subject to the numerical limitations of section 
     203(b)(4), an immigrant who seeks to enter the United States 
     to work as a broadcaster in the United States for the 
     International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board 
     of Governors, or for a grantee of the Broadcasting Board of 
     Governors, and the immigrant's accompanying spouse and 
     children.''.
       (b) Numerical Limitations.--
       (1) In general.--Section 203(b)(4) of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1153(b)(4)) is amended by inserting 
     before the period at the end the following: ``, and not more 
     than 100 may be made available in any fiscal year to special 
     immigrants, excluding spouses and children, who are described 
     in section 101(a)(27)(M)''.
       (2) Effective date.--The amendment made by paragraph (1) 
     shall apply to visas made available in any fiscal year 
     beginning on or after October 1, 2000.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-
Lee) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas).


                             General Leave

  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on S. 3239.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, the bill before us is one that accommodates one of the 
best mechanisms we have as Americans of promoting liberty, justice and 
freedom across the world. I refer, of course, to the utilization of the 
international broadcasting services that we provide to citizens of 
other lands. Radio Free Europe, Radio Iraq, Radio Marti, Radio Free 
Asia, all of these are set for the purpose of teaching other peoples 
how

[[Page H11700]]

we function as a society and inspiring them to seek in their own 
countries the foundations of liberty and freedom which we take for 
granted and which we enjoy.
  The problem is that these broadcasting services have discovered that 
we need bilingual personnel to work in these broadcasting services. So 
we have to try to accommodate their coming to our country for that 
purpose.
  The State Department seems to have a natural hurdle to that, a block, 
if you will, to their just flowing into our country for these purposes. 
So we have to establish, and this legislation does it, a special kind 
of visa to permit 100 of these broadcasters, 100 per year to come into 
our country. They are going to be invaluable as they stream into our 
country.
  It will alleviate also, for their own personal freedom, the 
possibility of oppression if they are doing our work in their own 
countries but doing it from here. Broadcasting in their native language 
will get the message across, provide them with safeguards, and will 
foster the entire purpose of the international broadcasting services of 
which we are so proud.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania 
(Mr. Gekas); and I, too, rise in support of this bill, S. 3239, which 
would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, to provide special 
immigrant status for certain international broadcasting employees.

                              {time}  2200

  S. 3239 would establish a new immigrant visa category for 
international broadcasting employees which would be subject to 
numerical limitations. It would provide a maximum of 200 visas in the 
first year, which would deal with the current critical shortage of 
international broadcasters. Then it would provide a maximum of 100 
visas annually for 3 successive years. Also, it would waive the labor 
certification requirement for the broadcasters who receive the visas.
  The people who work in the international broadcasting industry are 
highly skilled individuals. They must have journalistic skills. They 
must be fluent in a number of languages. Many times, Mr. Speaker, they 
are exchanging concepts of democracy and other governmental concepts to 
foreign countries where people are hungering after information, and so 
these people must have an in-depth knowledge of the people, history and 
cultures of other nations.
  Historically it has not been possible to find a sufficient number of 
people in the American workforce who have this combination of skills. 
All of us realize, however, that this is an important effort to ensure 
that we do have a diverse employee base and provide the kind of 
training to Americans that would provide them with the skills to be 
international broadcasters.
  Similar to our plea as we provided 195,000 H-1B visas, it is going to 
be important that we train an American workforce to ensure that they 
too can be part of the high technology industry.
  With respect to these particular visas, the availability of these 
visas would help to provide needed broadcasters for the Voice of 
America, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe, or Radio Liberty. This 
bill would provide the assistance that the international broadcasting 
industry needs to continue to provide essential news coverage around 
the world.
  Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to be able to stand here and support 
these special needs, as did I in our discussion on H1-B, even though we 
are looking to expand some additional opportunities for American 
workers and minorities. And I am very pleased to stand here today and 
support this legislation because I happen to believe in the Voice of 
America and Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe. I think that we have 
found that it teaches democracy in a very effective way.
  At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I am certainly concerned and dismayed 
that my colleagues have not seen fit to support the Latino Immigration 
Fairness Act. That is part of the logjam that we are having in this 
Congress where we are not realizing that individuals who have been here 
working in the United States paying taxes and paying for their 
mortgages and sending their children to school and doing the work that 
America needs them do, whether it is trash pickup or whether it is 
waiting on them in restaurants, Mr. Speaker, we see fit in this 
Congress not to provide them with access to legalization.
  Just the other day, we had a debate where someone got on the floor 
and talked about who came to this country legally and who did not come 
to this country legally and talking about the Statue of Liberty.
  Well, Mr. Speaker, I would simply say to my colleagues that it is 
enormously important that, as we support these specialized non-
immigrant visas for international broadcasters or high-tech industry, 
that we look to those common working men and women, the average working 
man and woman, who needs the Latino Immigration Fairness Act, and I 
would believe that this Congress needs to stand on the right side of 
this issue and stop throwing accusations against people who are hard 
working, who are immigrants, and who deserve to be here.
  What a tragedy to be able to vote this good bill today but yet we are 
not able to vote for a bill that would provide the fairness to these 
individuals.
  While I was in this debate on the floor of the House, Mr. Speaker, 
would you imagine that someone indicated that everyone who came to this 
country previous to these years came here legally.
  I did want to engage in a chastising debate. But frankly, Mr. 
Speaker, I did not come here legally. My ancestors came here slaves. 
And yet, we contributed a great deal to this country. We are very proud 
of the fact that we did contribute, and we are still contributing. 
These individuals came here out of persecution, prosecution and fear of 
their lives, but they came here under the encouragement of the United 
States Government.
  Just a few years ago, we gave the same kind of relief to Nicaraguans 
and Cubans and what happened was that we failed to do the right thing, 
the equitable thing and include people from Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti 
and Liberia. The only thing we are asking at this time, Mr. Speaker, is 
that we do the right thing.
  So I am very pleased to support S. 3239, but I believe that we are 
doing a great disservice and we are undermining the high status of this 
body by not passing the Latino Immigration Fairness Act.
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may 
consume to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Pelosi), a member of 
the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related 
Programs and a very distinguished Member of this body.
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me the 
time. I thank her for her great leadership on the Committee on the 
Judiciary on issues of fairness in relationship to our immigration 
policy, whether it is the H1-B visa and what the impact is on our 
engineers in our own country and recognition of the need for the H1-B 
but also for the need to educate and train our own workers, for her 
leadership on the immigration fairness issues, for equity for the 
245(i), for parity, et cetera, in the fairness issues, and I associate 
myself fully with her remarks on those subjects again commending her 
for her tremendous leadership, her relentlessness on behalf of fairness 
in our immigration policy.
  I thank the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) and commend her 
for her leadership on this issue, which is the immigration fairness 
issues, as well as on the health disparity issue.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) for 
his leadership in assisting us with this legislation and his leadership 
on the Committee on the Judiciary and finally say that this bill should 
be passed by this body. These international broadcasters and the non-
immigrant visa status that they are giving will help spread democracy 
around the world.
  As we do that, Mr. Speaker, I could not conclude without saying, 
likewise,

[[Page H11701]]

let us share democracy with those that are reaching for freedom and 
justice in this country who are simply seeking access to legalization. 
That is thousands and thousands of immigrants who have come here 
fleeing persecution. And this House now stands to deny them that right 
by not working to pass the Latino Immigration Fairness Act. I believe 
that we should do that, along with S. 3239.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume, 
only for the purpose of asking that the record show that the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Smith) is the prime mover of this legislation and has 
been involved in its foundation for a long time, along with the member 
of the Senate, Jesse Helms, who has had an outstanding interest in the 
furtherance of this legislation.
  George Fishman, the staff member for the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Smith) has been important in bringing this to the floor.
  Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this 
legislation which will allow the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) 
to receive a limited number of special immigrant visas, 100 per year, 
to allow broadcasters to work in the United States for the Voice of 
America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia.
  This legislation would allow the BBG to utilize a uniform visa 
category for all of its broadcast entities; allow the family members of 
those serving U.S. interests to integrate into U.S. life; and provide 
protection through permanent residency to those broadcasters whose 
lives may be threatened because they provide accurate information about 
dictatorships and corrupt officials abroad.
  U.S. international broadcasters continue to reach societies which 
live under regimes that censor the information available to their 
citizens. Some, after serving U.S. international broadcasting, are 
unable to return to their countries of origin for fear of retaliation 
against themselves or their families.
  Certain employees of Radio Free Iraq have been threatened with their 
lives because of the work they do to empower citizens through the free 
flow of accurate information.
  U.S. international broadcasting remains a vital part of our 
international effort to encourage democracy-building abroad. Its 
successes precede and follow the Cold War. For example, the most recent 
BBG survey showed that RFE/RL was the number-one radio station among 
Serbians during the recent attempt to topple Slobodan Milosevic. 
Foreign populations rely on broadcasting sponsored by the U.S. as a 
lifeline in a crisis.
  Recognizing this, we need to provide the means for the BBG to 
recruit, retain, and protect the talented individuals it employs.
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shimkus). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill, S. 3239.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor 
thereof) the rules were suspended and the Senate bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________




		
		
		
		


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