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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: December 15, 2000 (Senate)]
[Page S11850-S11852]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr15de00-102]                         



 
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BIOMEDICAL IMAGING AND ENGINEERING ESTABLISHMENT 
                                  ACT

  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
proceed to H.R. 1795, which is at the desk, having been received from 
the House.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 1795) to amend the Public Health Service Act 
     to establish the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and 
     Bioengineering.

  There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, many of us have worked throughout this 
Congress to bring greater fairness to our immigration laws. The Legal 
Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments are a constructive 
compromise worked out between members of both parties to address a 
number of the injustices in current law that have harshly affected many 
immigrant families. Included in the final legislative package are three 
provisions that will provide long overdue relief to valued members of 
our communities and their families.
  First, the legislation includes the partial restoration of section 
245(i) for individuals who are physically present in the U.S. by the 
date the legislation is enacted into law. Spouses, children, parents 
and siblings of permanent residents or U.S. citizens will now be able 
to adjust their status in the U.S. and avoid needless separation from 
their loved ones. Similarly, persons who benefit from employer-based 
petitions will also be helped by the restoration of section 245(i).
  Second, this legislation will benefit many of the ``late amnesty'' 
class members who have been in legal limbo for close to 15 years. Their 
spouses and children will be able to remain in the United States until 
they become eligible for permanent residence.
  Finally, this legislation provides desperately needed technical 
corrections that will benefit persons eligible for relief under the 
Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act and the Haitian 
Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act.
  Because these provisions were developed outside the usual committee 
process, they are not accompanied by committee reports on the 
background and purpose of the provisions. Therefore, as the chairman 
and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Senator 
Abraham and I are submitting a detailed memorandum explaining the 
provisions, which I ask unanimous consent be printed in the Record at 
the closing of my remarks.

[[Page S11851]]

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  [See Exhibit 2.]
  Mr. KENNEDY. Our action today is a significant step in the right 
direction, but this legislation is far from perfect. Critical pieces 
are missing.
  We must continue to work for full parity for Central Americans, 
Haitians, and Liberians. It is unjust to treat refugees fleeing 
repression by left-wing dictators better than those fleeing repression 
by right-wing dictators. Congress must create a fair, uniform set of 
procedures for all of these refugees.
  We also must continue to work for relief for permanent residents 
unfairly affected by the 1996 immigration law. The 1996 law contains 
some of the harshest provisions that Congress has enacted in many 
years. Their scope is sweeping. They hurt thousands of immigrants. They 
have taken immigrants away from their U.S. citizen families, without 
giving them even an opportunity to have their day in court. Next year, 
Congress must pass new legislation to correct the harsh provisions of 
these unfair laws.
  It is also unfortunate that the legislation does not include far-
reaching agreement on agricultural farmworkers. Senator Graham, 
Congressman Berman, and many others worked skillfully to achieve this 
agreement. They proposed an excellent compromise that would have 
benefitted both the agricultural workers and the farm owners.
  These further reforms deserve high priority by the next Congress, and 
I look forward to working with my colleagues and with the 
administration of President-elect Bush to enact them into law.

                               Exhibit 1

Joint Memorandum Concerning the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 
               2000 and the LIFE Act Amendments of 2000.

       The pending legislation contains certain immigration 
     provisions worked out between members of both parties to 
     further address certain issues addressed in the first 
     instance in the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000, 
     or LIFE Act, which is contained in the Commerce Justice State 
     Appropriations bill being transmitted to the President. 
     Because both the original LIFE ACT and this legislation were 
     developed outside the ordinary Committee process, they were 
     not accompanied by the usual reports elaborating on the 
     background and purpose of their provisions. This memorandum 
     is accordingly submitted on behalf of the Chairman and 
     Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration of the 
     Senate Committee on the Judiciary to provide such elaboration 
     in somewhat abbreviated form.
       The original LIFE Act sought to address two problems. 
     First, it sought to provide a new mechanism to address the 
     problem created by the long backlog of immigrant visa 
     applications for spouses and minor children of lawful 
     permanent residents, who are currently having to wait many 
     years for a visa to become available to them. Right now, many 
     of these individuals are even precluded from visiting their 
     spouse or parent in the United States on account of an 
     administrative interpretation that the filing of their 
     petition cases doubt on the bona fides of their applications 
     for visitors visas, indicating that instead they are 
     intending immigrants.
       The LIFE Act creates a new temporary ``V'' visa under which 
     these spouses (and their children) can come to the United 
     States and wait for their visa here, if their immigrant visa 
     petitions have been pending for more than three years. It 
     also expands the criteria for ``K'' visas to include spouses 
     and minor children of U.S. citizens. The purpose of the ``V'' 
     and ``K'' visas is to provide a speedy mechanism by which 
     family members may be reunited. We expect the Department of 
     State and the INS to work together to create a process in 
     keeping with the temporary nature of the visa that does not 
     require potential beneficiaries to wait for months before 
     their visas are approved. Like the existing Finance visa, the 
     new ``K'' visa is not intended to be a prerequisite for the 
     admission of citizen spouses, but a speedy mechanism for the 
     spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens to obtain their 
     immigrant visas in the U.S., rather than wait for long 
     periods of time outside the U.S.
       Second, the LIFE Act sought to correct past administrative 
     mistakes that resulted in the wrongful denial of adjustment 
     of status to hundreds of thousands of persons who should have 
     qualified for permanent residence under the Immigration 
     Reform and Control Act of 1986. It directs the Immigration 
     and Naturalization Service (INS) to adjudicate the 
     applications of individuals in two class action lawsuits on 
     the merits, rather than continuing to litigate whether they 
     were timely filed.
       The LIFE Act Amendments make three significant additions to 
     the provisions in the LIFE Act. First, they delete the LIFE 
     Act's special mechanism for ``V'' and ``K'' visa holders to 
     adjust to lawful permanent residence, and instead add a new 
     provision modifying section 245(i), a mechanism by which 
     anyone eligible for an immigrant visa and for whom a visa is 
     currently available can adjust his or her status to that of 
     lawful permanent residence in the U.S., rather than have to 
     return abroad for consular processing. That mechanism was 
     reauthorized in 1996, but only for individuals who were 
     beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions or labor 
     certification applications filed by January 14, 1998. The 
     LIFE amendments move the date by which such petitions or 
     applications must be filed forward in time to April 30, 2001.
       They also add a new requirement that for all beneficiaries 
     whose application was filed after January 14, 1998, the 
     principal beneficiary must have been physically present in 
     the U.S. on the date of enactment of the LIFE Act Amendments 
     of 2000. The function of this last requirement is to make 
     sure that the renewed availability of section 245(i) does not 
     operate to encourage anyone to violate our immigration laws. 
     Accordingly, it should be interpreted with common sense.
       It may be difficult for an individual physically present on 
     the day of enactment to establish his or her presence on that 
     precise date to qualify for 245(i). The Immigration and 
     Naturalization Service (INS) should therefore be flexible in 
     the types of evidence it will accept to establish physical 
     presence on the day of enactment. For example, the kind of 
     evidence of physical presence INS ordinarily accepts 
     demonstrating that the applicant has been physically present 
     during a reasonable period preceding that date, accompanied 
     by an affidavit or declaration that the person was present on 
     the date itself, should ordinarily suffice. We also note that 
     this new requirement is applicable only to principal 
     applicants for 245(i), and not to derivatives, who continue 
     to be allowed to ``follow to join'' if they otherwise 
     qualify.
       In order to ensure that persons who may benefit from this 
     provision are aware of this legislation, we strongly 
     encourage the INS to conduct a broad outreach program within 
     the immigrant communities. Additionally, to ensure that all 
     potentially eligible persons have an opportunity to qualify 
     for 245(i), if necessary the INS should accept petitions and 
     applications before the April 30, 2001 sunset date that do 
     not contain all necessary supporting documents, and allow 
     additional documents to be filed after the deadline.
       Second, the legislation adds the members of a third class 
     action law suit, Zambrano v. INS, to those covered by the 
     LIFE Act's provisions concerning adjustment of status under 
     the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). We 
     note that persons eligible for adjustment pursuant to the 
     combined LIFE provisions include everyone who has ``filed 
     with the Attorney General a written claim of class 
     membership'', that is all registered class members, not 
     only those who have been issued employment authorization 
     pursuant to a screening that did not reliably distinguish 
     between potentially meritorious and non-meritorious 
     applications.
       We understand that several other class action lawsuits are 
     still pending in the federal courts challenging other INS 
     interpretations of the 1986 adjustment provisions. The 
     precise posture of one of these cases, Perales v. Thornburgh, 
     came to our attention after the legislation had been 
     finalized. We understand that a class of about 200 identified 
     plaintiffs in Perales challenged the same regulation whose 
     illegality the INS has conceded in Zambrano. We would 
     encourage the Attorney General to provide a just resolution 
     for the Perales class members in light of the legislation 
     enacted today.
       Other cases that have come to our attention, such as 
     Proyecto San Pablo v. INS, and Immigrant Assistance Project 
     v. INS, are in a different posture from those addressed by 
     the LIFE Act and these amendments, in that they do not 
     involve regulations that INS has conceded were illegal. At 
     the same time, however, it is now almost 2001, that is, 
     almost 15 years after the enactment of IRCA, and these cases 
     remain unresolved. We encourage the plaintiffs and the 
     Attorney General to explore the possibility of settling these 
     cases and bringing to an end the years of bitter and costly 
     litigation. Nothing in this legislation is intended to 
     preclude this option, or to preclude the Attorney General 
     from resolving any other IRCA adjustment applications on the 
     merits.
       In that connection, we also note that when the 1986 
     legalization program was enacted, the Attorney General, 
     pursuant to section 245A of the INA, was authorized to work 
     in conjunction with voluntary organizations and other 
     qualified State, local and community organizations to broadly 
     disseminate information about the legalization program. The 
     INS helped provide funding to these organizations to assist 
     with the outreach effort, as well as with the preparation and 
     submission of the applications for adjustment of status. A 
     similar outreach campaign should be conducted to disseminate 
     information about the opportunity to apply for adjustment of 
     status under this Act. As noted above, almost 15 years have 
     elapsed since the original legalization program was enacted, 
     therefore the need to publicize the resolution of these 
     issues reached by the LIFE Act and amendments thereto is 
     critical to ensure that eligible persons are notified and 
     have an opportunity to obtain the benefits of this Act. 
     Moreover, nothing in the Act should be construed to preclude 
     the Attorney General from providing funding to organizations 
     qualified and experienced in the preparation and submission 
     of adjustment applications.

[[Page S11852]]

       Third, the amendments clarify that the spouses and 
     unmarried children of the beneficiaries of Section 1104 of 
     the LIFE Act are eligible for the Family Unity provisions of 
     the Immigration Act of 1990. By enacting this provision, our 
     objective is to ensure that these family members are treated 
     in the same manner as the family members of those who 
     adjusted their status under IRCA.
       In addition, the amendments address two, more technical 
     issues. Section 1104 LIFE Act applicants, as well as 
     beneficiaries under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central 
     American Relief Act (NACARA) and the Haitian Refugee 
     Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) are made eligible for certain 
     waivers of grounds of inadmissibility. These waivers are 
     ordinarily available only to persons who are outside the U.S. 
     The amendments to the LIFE Act allow the covered individuals 
     to apply for these waivers in the U.S.
       Finally, the LIFE amendments clarify that section 241(a)(5) 
     of the INA which bars anyone who has been ordered removed and 
     who subsequently reenters the U.S. from obtaining any relief 
     under the INA. Because adjustment under section 245A, NACARA, 
     and HRIFA is not ``relief under'' the Act, LIFE amendments 
     specify that this bar does not apply to LIFE section 1104 
     beneficiaries, or NACARA or HRIFA applicants.

  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be 
advanced to third reading and passed and the motion to reconsider be 
laid upon the table, all without intervening action, motion, or debate.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  The bill (H.R. 1795) was read the third time and passed.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of 
a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. LOTT. Mr. President, Senator Daschle is here. We have a few 
resolutions we can offer at this point.

                          ____________________




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