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[Congressional Record: March 14, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
REINTRODUCTION OF SPOUSAL REUNIFICATION ACT
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask that my colleagues join
me in supporting legislation that I reintroduced today that would
permit the admission into the United States of nonimmigrant visitors
who are the spouses and children of permanent resident aliens residing
and working in this country.
This legislation is intended to fill a void in our current
immigration policy that has resulted in permanent resident aliens,
people who have come into this country legally and who are gainfully
employed, being separated from their spouses and children often for
periods of several years. This bill would simply make it easier for
family members to come to the United States on a temporary basis with
provisions to penalize those who overstay their visas. Its goal is to
alleviate the human hardship of prolonged family separation.
Mr. Speaker, the legislation would eliminate the implication that the
existence of a petition for permanent residence implies that an
applicant will not return to his or her home nation and would remain in
the United States after the expiration of a temporary visa. This
equitable solution simply grants to immigrant family members the same
opportunity to visit the United States as all others desiring to come
here as visitors or students. The legislation anticipates the
possibility that some may violate the terms of their visas by
overstaying the period for which the visa provides. It penalizes
spouses or children of permanent residents who overstay their visas by
allowing the Secretary of State to delay their permanent visa petitions
for one year if visa durations are violated.
Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues may remember, last year in the Omnibus
Appropriations bill, Congress took a step in alleviating this hardship.
The Omnibus bill created a new V nonimmigrant visa category. This new
visa would be available to spouses and minor children of legal
permanent residents who have been waiting 3 years or more for an
immigrant visa. The recipients of this temporary visa would be
protected from deportation and granted work authorization until
immigration visa or adjustment of status processing is completed.
However, while this new program has good intentions, Mr. Speaker, 3
years is still too long to be apart from one's loved ones. My bill
would immediately expedite the process in allowing foreign-born
immigrants to see their family for a short period of time before they
are eligible for the V visa. My legislation would not nullify the V
visa, but rather provide for temporary visas in the interim.
Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that this proposal will receive strong
support from Members of Congress, particularly members of our Caucus on
India and Indian-Americans, and other Members who agree with the need
to address this inequity. The issue of spousal and child reunification
has been identified as one of the top domestic priorities of the Asian-
Indian community in the United States. With the India caucus members
working together, enactment of this bill would be an opportunity for
the caucus to make its presence felt in another substantive way.
Furthermore, this proposal has already received significant support
from some of America's major corporations, particularly in the
information and communications sectors, who recognize the importance of
allowing their valued employees to have greater contact with their
The bill is, by its very nature, an interim measure in order to allay
some of the misunderstandings that may arise. It should be pointed out
that the legislation will not result in an increase in the number of
immigrants admitted annually. It will not have an impact on the labor
market, and it will not have any adverse effects on any government
social programs since the spouses would not be entitled to these
benefits. It is a very modest proposal intended only to bring some
relief to families separated by unfortunate administrative delays.
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