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[Congressional Record: October 31, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S11417]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. THURMOND. Mr. President, it is highly unfortunate that the 
Clinton administration is apparently trying to play politics with 
immigration during the final days before the Presidential election.
  The Congress has tried to work in good faith with the President to 
help immigrants who play by the rules, and have not been treated fairly 
by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Unfortunately, the 
President does not seem to be interested in a reasonable compromise.
  President Clinton has demanded blanket amnesty for any alien in the 
United States in 1986 or before. This is not limited to legal 
immigrants. It includes illegal aliens. It does not matter to the 
President whether they have tried to follow the law in getting their 
status adjusted during all these years, or whether they flagrantly 
violated the immigration laws. The President just wants to give blanket 
amnesty. Also, the White House does not know how many would be eligible 
for amnesty under their plan, but the number would clearly be in the 
millions. This is irresponsible policy.
  The National Border Patrol Council, whose members are border patrol 
agents, has strongly criticized the President's proposal. They said, 
``In addition to punishing those who abide by our immigration laws and 
rewarding those who disobey them, a new amnesty would encourage 
innumerable others to break our laws in the future. This is not sound 
public policy.''
  The Congress has a better way. The Legal Immigration Family Equity 
Act, which is part of the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations 
legislation, would allow aliens in the United States before 1982 to 
secure amnesty if they had tried to comply with the immigration laws. 
This would provide assistance to about 400,000 aliens who were wrongly 
denied relief through administrative action of the I.N.S.
  Moreover, the legislation would assist hundreds of thousands of 
applicants who are on a waiting list to be united with their families 
in the United States. This bill would greatly help promote family 
  As this legislation demonstrates, the Congress should help immigrants 
who help themselves and try to follow the rules. However, far too 
often, the roadblock that legal immigrants run into has nothing to do 
with the Congress. It is caused by the Administration, and more 
specifically the I.N.S.
  The record of the I.N.S. in helping legal immigrants during this 
Administration has been very poor. I have grown very frustrated in 
recent years trying to help citizens of my state who are trying to work 
through the I.N.S. and follow the law. Sometimes, when I make inquiries 
about an applicant's case, the I.N.S. does not even respond to my 
repeated requests. When I do get a response, it is often handwritten 
and hard to read or understand. It may even be inaccurate. Also, the 
I.N.S. has actually lost files about which I was inquiring. If federal 
elected officials receive this type of treatment, the difficulties that 
applicants face while trying to work with the I.N.S. alone must be 
many, many times worse. I have contacted the Attorney General about 
these chronic problems, but I have not even received the courtesy of a 
  With a new Administration next year, I hope we can fundamentally 
reform the I.N.S. We must make it responsive to the people.
  In the meantime, the President should cooperate with the Congress, 
and promote reasonable solutions to the problems faced by legal 
immigrants. At the same time, he should devote his attention to 
addressing the fundamental problems regarding how immigrants are 
treated by his own administration every single day.