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[Congressional Record: May 21, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
SECTION 245(i) EXTENSION ACT OF 2001
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and
pass the bill (H.R. 1885) to expand the class of beneficiaries who may
apply for adjustment of status under section 245(i) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act by extending the deadline for classification
petition and labor certification filings, and for other purposes.
The Clerk read as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Section 245(i) Extension Act
SEC. 2. EXTENSION OF DEADLINE.
Section 245(i)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8
U.S.C. 1255(i)(1)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (B)(i), by striking ``2001;'' and
inserting ``2001, or during the 120-day period beginning on
the date of the enactment of the Section 245(i) Extension Act
of 2001;''; and
(2) by amending subparagraph (C) to read as follows:
``(C) who, in the case of a beneficiary of a petition for
classification, or an application for labor certification,
described in subparagraph (B) that was filed after January
``(i) was physically present in the United States on
December 21, 2000; and
``(ii) demonstrates that the familial or employment
relationship that is the basis of such petition for
classification or application for labor certification existed
on or before April 30, 2001;''.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentleman from Michigan (Mr.
Conyers) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend
their remarks and include therein extraneous material on H.R. 1885.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Wisconsin?
There was no objection.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
Madam Speaker, Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
has been a controversial part of our immigration law since its
inception in 1994. 245(i) allows illegal immigrants who are eligible
for immigrant visas but who are illegally in the United States to
adjust their status with the INS in the U.S. upon payment of a thousand
In the absence of section 245(i), illegal immigrants must pursue
their visa applications abroad. Pursuant to the Illegal Immigration
Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, those who have been
illegally present in the United States for a year would be barred for
reentry for 10 years.
Supporters of section 245(i) argue that it promotes family unity
because, without it, illegal immigrants would be forced to leave the
United States and their American families for many years. I believe we
must also recognize that by allowing illegal immigrants to adjust their
status in the United States, section 245(i) serves as an open
invitation to those waiting in the queue for immigrant visas to jump
the line and enter the United States illegally.
This is not fair to those immigrants who respect the immigration laws
of our country and wait patiently in their home countries for visas,
sometimes for years.
Such line-jumping negates the deterrent power of the bar on
readmission for long-term illegal immigrants, which was a key reform of
our immigration laws.
As a part of last year's Legal Immigrant Family Equity Act, Congress
decided to allow illegal immigrants who were in the United States as of
December 21, 2000 and who would have green card petitions filed in
their behalf by April 30, 2001 to utilize section 245(i). This was a
delicately crafted compromise.
Now that April 30 has come and gone, supporters of 245(i) push for an
extension of the application deadline, some arguing that we should make
the program permanent. Many others oppose any extension whatsoever.
On what grounds can we find a principled compromise? President Bush
has pointed the way. He has noted that illegal immigrants eligible to
utilize section 245(i) under the LIFE Act may not have had their 4-
month window to apply that the Act promised them. The INS did not issue
implementing regulations until this March and bureaucratic delays may
have prevented many individuals from taking advantage of the 245(i)
extension, individuals that Congress intended to benefit.
Furthermore, many illegal immigrants claim to have difficulty
procuring the services of immigration lawyers in time to apply. The
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the chairman of the
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the
Judiciary, has introduced a bill that ensures that illegal immigrants
have the promised 4 months to apply.
H.R. 1885, the Section 245(i) Extension Act of 2001 would allow
illegal immigrants to utilize section 245(i) as long as they have green
card petitions filed on their behalf within 120 days of enactment after
this 245(i) sunsets for good.
H.R. 1885 retains the LIFE Act's requirement that illegal immigrants
must have been in the United States as of December 21, 2000, so as not
to encourage further illegal immigration into the United States.
This bill also requires that illegal immigrants must have entered
into family or business relationships qualifying them for green cards
by April 30, the original filing deadline. This requirement ensures
that we do not encourage a new wave of marriages designed purely to
procure green cards.
Countless news articles have reported that many thousands of illegal
immigrants rushed to get married to U.S. citizens to beat the April 30
deadline. Under H.R. 1885, the marriage or employment, in the case of a
petitioning employer, must have begun by April 30.
I believe that H.R. 1885 is fair and balanced legislation which does
not solve the requirements of people who have taken strong positions on
either side of the issue but which gets the job done. It ensures that
the intent and compromises embodied in the LIFE Act are carried out. I
urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
Madam Speaker, I come to the floor to congratulate all the parties
that have worked on the extension of 245(i) because underlying that
there is the understanding that we realize this is a subject matter
that needs the kind of bipartisan support for those folks that are
trying, working so hard as good citizens to get their green card and
apply for citizenship.
The President of the United States has indicated that this measure is
insufficient. There was hope up until 3 minutes ago that this measure
might be removed from the floor because there is still so much
negotiation swirling around it. Why? Because even though we are in
recognition of a difficult problem that there is bicameral and
bipartisan support for relief for going beyond April 30, we simply do
not have enough time within the 4-month period that is provided to take
care of this complex filing and requirements that are needed.
Number one, the immigration lawyers have already advised myself and
the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), the ranking member of
this Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the
Judiciary, that frequently one has to go back to the country of origin
to get birth certificates, records. Sometimes they are there. Sometimes
they are not. It is not a simple matter.
Number two, the Immigration and Naturalization Service itself needs a
lot more time. They would be inundated under this. Of course, the irony
of ironies is that the regulations themselves would require, and we
have been advised this by the reg writers, would require 3 months.
So compassion may be the order of the day here, Madam Speaker. What
we need to do is, now that we recognize a problem, now that we are
resolved to solving it, what we really need to do is step back and look
at the amount of time that is involved.
That is why I appeal to the distinguished chairman of the committee
and the ranking member to understand the detail that we are dealing
with. We are having people from four different countries, four
different languages. It is something like buying a movie ticket to go
to the premier of the show; and by the time one gets up to the door to
go in, they close the doors.
Please. Let us see if there is something more we can do to perfect
the good intentions of all the parties, the White House, the Congress,
the Senate, to make this measure something that we can all be proud of.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the
distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the author of
the bill and the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and
Mr. GEKAS. Madam Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding me this
Madam Speaker, the opening statement of the chairman and the response
by the ranking member have framed the issue very, very well. It is only
a matter of degree, then, that we now stand before the House to present
views. How long shall be the extension?
The gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) says that the lawyers
involved are the ones who are claiming that they require more and more
time to complete this process. In December 2000, they had adequate
notice; all the lawyers in the land, every one of them had notice that
this issue was pending and about to close its doors in May of this
current year. Because they faced that big deadline, they were only able
to handle 450,000 or so applications out of the 600,000 that are
Now, we are supplying an additional 4 months to cover about 200,000
pending applicants. We think that that is a balanced approach. Today's
debate on this floor serves as an additional notice to everyone that
something is afoot.
The applications have to be filed now. One has another 4 months that
the proclamation will go out, from the time that the President signs it
into law, and it is many more months than the 4 months that come from
this date because we know that this will take another month, 2 months
to bring into full enactment. So the full notice is there for everyone
The opening statements were correct. We and the subcommittee had the
benefit of consultations on every side of this issue, and there are
many sides to it: from those who opposed even 1-day extension, we
consulted with them, we listened to them; to those who wanted to make
it permanent and never visit the subject matter again with whom we
consulted; with Members of Congress on every side of the issue; with
advocacy groups; and with the White House itself.
So we are not without a wealth of views and opinions and facts that
lead us to the position that we now find ourselves in, asking the House
to allow a 4-month extension so that we can be fair to the applicants,
so that we can be fair to the people lined up for legal immigration,
and so that we will not give incentive for people to become illegal
aliens, and, most of all, to begin once and for all the process to
allow our country to seize control of its borders and of its
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentlewoman from
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), the distinguished ranking member of the
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the
Madam Speaker, will the gentlewoman yield to me?
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. I yield to the gentleman from Michigan, the
distinguished ranking member.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, when the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
Gekas), subcommittee chairman, hits a nerve, he said how long. That is
what we have been saying in the civil rights movement for a long time,
Madam Speaker. How long? How long will it take? Well, it is taking not
enough time, it is not long enough this time. So I am glad the
gentleman from Pennsylvania brought that refrain of the civil rights
movement back into this debate.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, it is interesting, without
dialoguing with the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers), we have the
same sort of line of reasoning. But I would like to thank those who
have gathered here on the floor with the particular singular point, and
that is that, of course, we need an extension.
I think the only redeeming value of this debate is that we are on the
floor of the House saying that 245(i) should not have ended on April
30, 2001. Frankly, it should have been extended primarily because,
Madam Speaker, the regulations that those who were seeking legal access
to immigration, legalization, did not come into play until March 26,
2001. So it is evident that we have a problem.
It is interesting that the ranking member chose to draw upon the
civil rights analogy. Let me draw it a little further. As I heard the
debate on the floor, I have heard a comment that we spoke to many
persons. We even spoke to those that do not want even 1 day.
I am reminded of the work of Lyndon Baines Johnson at the passage of
the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voter Rights Act of 1965. There were
enormous numbers of Americans and elected officials who did not want
any legislation. But I am gratified that that Texan, the President of
the United States at that time, saw fit to do the right thing, to
ensure that, regardless of the opposition, we do the right thing.
Today of course I believe that we have not done fully the right thing
in the 4-month extension and hope that we will have an opportunity to
see this process go forward, to work with the Senate, and to work
reasonably around time to address the concerns that we need to address.
First of all, Madam Speaker, I have to say to my colleagues that all
these Members cannot be wrong. These Members are supporting permanent
extension, 1-year extension, 6-month extension. So there is no great
weight of authority for what we call a 4-month extension. That is not
going to be enough time even with added language that says that one
must define or one must have been in the family relationship on April
30 or a business relationship, employment relationship, which means
that the INS will have to draft more regulations.
245(i) is not opening the doors to illegal immigration. It is, in
fact, providing access to legalization. It is reuniting families. It is
pro business so
that people who are engaged in the work that they have already been
doing, paying taxes, can in fact have the opportunity to continue in a
There are a number of bills that I have been gratified to support, by
the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez), by the gentleman from New
York (Mr. Rangel), a previous bill by the gentleman from New York (Mr.
King), my bill, H.R. 1615, for a 1-year extension. I am gratified to
work with Members of the other body who have a 1-year extension with 20
cosponsors. I certainly hope that that will be the rule of the day.
Four months is not enough time, because the INS itself is not
structurally prepared to deal with visas, the V visas, the K visas that
have to be done. These are other visas that have to be dealt with.
A 4-month extension creates a greater risk that mistakes will be made
or that the application will be improperly filed. Madam Speaker, I will
submit these articles into the RECORD; but it shows the enormous lines
that occurred at the time, where people were attempting not to be
illegal, not to have employees that are illegal, not to have families
that are broken up, but to be legal. Look at these lines. Look at the
Similar to the civil rights movement when people were standing in
line to access accommodations, to access equality and the right to
vote, we had to stand up and do the right thing and be against those
who would do the wrong thing.
A 4-month extension will cost the government more money. It will cost
the government additional dollars. Four months will end right at the
appropriations time frame. We will not be finished. We will not know
whether or not we have to give a supplemental appropriation to rush the
last group in. We do not know what may transpire.
It opens itself up to people to be abused, going after anybody who
gives them permission to say or suggest that I can get you in.
I believe we can do the right thing. I will just suggest to my
colleagues in closing that we have many stories of people like Norma
who settled in North Carolina and married a United States citizen. They
have been married over 2 years, have a child, and expecting another
one. They are torn apart because of this lack of 245(i).
I know there are good intentions on the floor. I hope we can extend
this and move this bill forward.
Madam Speaker, as we know in Section 245(i) allows some people to
remain in the country while pursuing legal residency, instead of
returning to the native countries to apply for U.S. residency, which
breaks up families. Section 245(i) is an immigration policy which
provides a path to legalization. Furthermore, it encourages family
reunification and is also pro-business. Any time period short of a year
will deny family reunification and access to legalization for many.
Thus a four month extension gives no real opportunity to anyone.
H.R. 1885, introduced by Congressman Gekas only allows for a four
month extension of section 245i. This is a bad bill. We have been
giving the message to immigrants who come to the United States that we
are a nation of immigrants. However, this message that we are
attempting to communicate in a unified voice is muffled by the wrong
bills such as the one on the floor today.
H.R. 1885's four month extension is going to fuel the fire of all the
problems that we have right now in immigration. A four month extension
is simply masquerading itself as help to those in need. H.R. 1885 is
merely skating over the problem that has occurred--an estimated number
of 200,000 people who were not given enough time to benefit from taking
advantage of section 245i. Such a short extension is surely to cause
another round of mass confusion that we have already witnessed.
How do we know that a four month extension is simply not enough time
for people to benefit from section 235(i)? We know this from consulting
with immigrants, immigration advocates, and nonprofit groups that work
bills with a one-year extension
My bill H.R. 1615 allows for a year extension. My bill provides that
the April 30, 2001 deadline should be extended to April 30, 2002.
Congressman Rangel has a bill, H.R. 1195 which provides for the same
one year extension. Furthermore, Senator Hagel has a one year extension
with a sunset date of April 30, 2002. A one year extension is the
proper amount of time to allow people to take advantage of section
245(i). A year is necessary for the following reasons:
reasons why we have a one-year extension
1. Four months is not enough time for people to get the help that
they need to file before the deadline. Regulations for the new V visas,
K visas and late legalization are due out at the end of this month.
This will cause attorneys' workloads to rise at an unprecedented rate.
Immigration attorneys when dealing with only section 245i said they
have never been so busy before and did not have enough time to schedule
appointments with people who sought out their expertise. If that was
the case with section 245i we can only imagine the chaos that will
ensue with the issuance of the regulations for the new V visas, K visas
and late legalization. People will not be able to get appointments with
legal service providers in a four month period and as a result will be
unable to take advantage of section 245i. This is why a year extension
2. A fourth month extension creates a greater risk that mistakes will
be made or that the applications will be improperly filed. Without
access to legitimate and professional assistance, many people will be
forced to try and figure this law out for themselves. In some cases,
the process is very difficult. Even in simple cases, there is enormous
confusion about who is eligible, which applications must be filed by
the deadline, where to the applications, what office to file
applications with, and what are the filing fees. Without a fair
opportunity to have these questions answered, eligible applicants may
submit incomplete or incorrect applications and be unable to correct
the mistakes before the deadline passes. Thousands of eligible
applicants will lose their right to apply simply because they made an
3. Short deadlines benefit scam artists. If people are not given the
chance to schedule appointments with attorneys then they may fall into
the wrong hands--those of scam artists, who ripped thousands of people
off during the previous 245i extension. These scam artists charged
thousands of dollars to prepare applications that were never filed, or
submitted applications on behalf of people who were not eligible.
Another short four month extension guarantees that scam artists will
benefit once again.
4. A four month extension will cost the government more money.
Providing a short window of opportunity will dramatically increase the
need for government services. As a result of the previous short four-
month extension of Section 245(i), tens of thousands of people rushed
to government offices to collect documents, request applications, and
ask questions. Thousand of people camped overnight at INS offices to
get copies of application forms or request information about their
eligibility. With a four month extension the same problems will occur.
Petitions and applications will suffer while INS diverts resources to
deal with the long lines of people outside their office. Providing a
one year extension would spread this work out.
5. The new language of H.R. 1885 will require new regulations that
could not be implemented in four months. H.R. 1885 adds a new
requirement that applicants show that ``the familial or employment
relationship'' that is the basis for the application existed before
April 30, 2001. ``Familial Relationship'' and ``Employment
Relationship'' are not simple terms and will have to be defined. INS
will have great difficulty drafting this restriction, especially for
employers. and as we have seen before, INS will be unable to issue
these regulations until most of all of a four-month extension is over.
6. Finally, The physical presence requirement in the LIFE Act already
ensures that people will not be coming to the United States to apply.
Under the LIFE Act, only those people who were in the United States on
December 21, 2000 are eligible to apply for the new extension of
Section 245(i). This limitation addresses the fear that the extension
of 245(i) will be a magnet for people to come into the United States
Let me provide you with two examples of how people are affected by
A. Norma entered the United States illegally from Mexico. She settled
in North Carolina and married a United States citizen. They have been
married over two years, have a child, are expecting another this fall,
and have recently purchased a new home for their growing family. Norma
and her husband are torn on what to do about her immigration status. As
the wife of a citizen, she qualifies for an immigrant visa. However, if
she returns to Mexico to obtain her visa, she would be barred from re-
entering the United States for 10 years. Norma does not want to leave
her husband, her children, or her home for 10 years. Restoration of
245i would allow this family to stay together.
B. Apolinaro came to the United States illegally from El Salvador
four years ago. He came from a large, poor family and moved to the U.S.
to find work to support his parents and siblings. After being here for
a couple of years he met his present wife. After they were married, his
wife wanted to start the paperwork to naturalize him, but he is
undocumented. The couple was faced with the harsh
reality: they only way Apolinaro could become a legal resident was to
go back to El Salvador and be barred from re-entering the U.S. for ten
years. On his one-year wedding anniversary, Aploinaro returned to El
Salvador and does not know when he will see his wife again. He and his
wife could not imagine being separated for 10 years, but if the harsh
provision of the 1996 law is not changed, this separation may become a
A four month extension will not provide the necessary relief. And as
proof we will see the exact same reaction that we saw on April 30,
2001--thousands of people who were not given enough time to take
advantage of a law that benefits them and were left confused and
frustrated because they did not have enough time to file the required
paperwork. Furthermore, there is no question that at the end of this
proposed four month extension, people will claim that it was not enough
time and will seek another extension.
Only a year extension will guarantee people a chance to see an
immigration legal service provider as well as guarantee parties a
sufficient period of time to file the proper applications. We must
remember that while this is a nation of laws, it is also a nation of
Madam Speaker, the articles that I referred to earlier are as
[From the Washington Post, May 1, 2001]
A Rush for Residency--Immigrants Flood INS as Special Program Ends
(By Mary Beth Sheridan and Christine Haughney)
Tens of thousands of undocumented foreigners packed U.S.
immigration centers, besieged lawyers' offices and said ``I
do'' in assembly-line weddings yesterday as they scrambled to
apply for residency under a special program that expired at
The Immigration and Naturalization Service kept many of its
offices open until the last minute to handle the record
crush. Still, many immigrants missed the deadline because
overwhelmed lawyers could not give them appointments to help
them with the necessary paperwork, immigrant advocates said.
Several members of Congress and a key U.S. Catholic bishop
called in vain for an extension of the program, which gave
illegal immigrants a four-month window to apply for residency
without first having to leave the United States.
``The deadline must be extended,'' insisted Bishop Nicholas
DiMarzio of Camden, N.J., chairman of the U.S. Catholic
Bishops' Migration Committee, which organized efforts to help
immigrants fill out the forms. ``Our programs have been
unable to meet the demand for services.''
Like many immigration offices across the country, the
Washington area INS center on North Fairfax Drive in
Arlington opened its doors yesterday to a line snaking around
the building. Throughout the day, the office was a tableau of
desperation and confusion.
Santos Hernandez, a Mexican landscape worker, had driven to
Arlington from North Carolina after discovering that he was
required to pass a physical--and that all the INS-approved
doctors in his area were too booked to give him one.
After waiting in line for several hours yesterday,
Hernandez and his brother stared blankly as a frazzled
immigration officer demanded in English to know what they
``We came for the program that expires today. Everyone
talks about this,'' Hernandez murmured in Spanish, clutching
a tan envelope of tattered documents. But his quest would end
in failure an hour later.
Just a few miles away, the D.C. Department of Employment
Services took applications from immigrants being sponsored by
businesses in the area. ``This is the busiest we've ever seen
it,'' supervisor Dorothy Robinson said. She said her office
alone was on track to receive at least 1,000 applications by
midnight--as many as it usually receives in a year.
Usually, undocumented immigrants seeking U.S. residency
must apply at the U.S. consulate in their native land. But in
December, Congress passed the special measure that allowed
them to apply while still in the United States, as long as
they did so by April 30 and paid a $1,000 penalty. The change
was important because most illegal immigrants are barred from
returning, for a period of three to 10 years, if they leave
the United States.
INS officials estimated that 640,000 illegal immigrants
nationwide would apply for residency under the measure, which
required that the immigrant be sponsored by an employer or a
close family member.
The lines didn't form just at INS offices. Across the
country, couples rushed to get married so that one spouse--
the legal U.S. resident--could sponsor the other.
In New York, couples had gathered as early as 2 a.m. in
recent weeks to secure one of the 700 daily passes for
weddings at the Manhattan municipal building, said Denise
Collins, spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide
Administrative Services. The number of marriage ceremonies
and licenses citywide was twice as high on Friday as for the
same date last year, according to city clerk Carlos Cuevas.
Yesterday, Lynda Rosado lined up at 4 a.m. for one of the
passes, finally tying the knot after nine years of dating
Bernardino Hernandez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant.
Around her, couples exchanged sweet nothings in English,
Spanish and Cantonese. Vendors hawked $20 bouquets and
cardboard ``you and me forever'' frames.
But Rosado quickly got down to business. ``We'll celebrate
later,'' she said after the brief wedding ceremony. ``Now
we're going straight to a lawyer.''
Not everyone was lucky enough to get into a lawyer's
office, however. Many lawyers were booked solid weeks ago,
said Judy Golub, a lobbyist for the American Immigration
Lawyers' Association. Although a lawyer's assistance was not
required, many immigrants needed help filling out the complex
Because such problems caused some immigrants to miss the
deadline, several U.S. legislators have submitted bills to
extend the special measure, known as Section 245(i). But they
have been unsuccessful.
In an effort to avoid a last-minute crush, immigrant aid
groups such as the Spanish Catholic Center in Gaithersburg
worked frantically to spread the word about the program and
make appointments for people who needed help with
One recent Friday night, Celia Rivas, the immigration
services coordinator, started appointments to work on
immigrant applications at 6:30 p.m. She was so swamped she
finished 24 hours later.
``I wanted to avoid April 30 being the day everyone came
for services,'' she said.
Still, many immigrants didn't find out about the measure
until the last few days or were confused by it.
Hernandez, the Mexican landscaper, thought he could just
drop off his documents at the Arlington INS office. But he
needed to fill out special forms. So he went to the car and
returned with his longtime American girlfriend, Renee
Garland, 33. Nearly three hours after they had arrived at the
INS office, with their two small children in tow, the couple
made it to the front of the documents line.
It was a short-lived victory.
``He's your boyfriend?'' the officer asked Garland, who
nodded yes, ``When you gonna get married?'' the officer
Garland suggested that her boyfriend could be sponsored by
his employer. But the landscaper had simply typed a one-
paragraph letter verifying that Hernandez worked for him.
``Where's the form from his boss?'' the immigration officer
asked. Garland, crestfallen, acknowledged that she didn't
know he needed one. And Hernandez wasn't about to get married
yesterday. Garland slunk away from the line, hitting a
seemingly insurmountable roadblock on the road to her
``I don't know what I'm going to do,'' she sighed.
[From the New York Times, May 1, 2001]
Illegal Immigrants Race Against Clock to Get through a Small Window of
(By Michael Janofsky)
Denver, April 30.--Some arrived as early as Saturday night,
with sleeping bags, reclining chairs, even dining room chairs
to make the wait more bearable. By today, when the
immigration office here opened at 6 a.,m., the crowd had
swelled to several thousand, and many more were on the way.
With a midnight deadline approaching, the scene was
repeating at immigration offices all around the country as
illegal immigrants scrambled to take advantage of a program
that allows those with family or employer sponsors to apply
for legal status in the United States without leaving the
``They tried to line up on Saturday when they heard the
lines were starting,'' said Michael Comfort, acting district
director for the Denver Immigration and Naturalization
Service office. ``I suppose we all do that when it comes to
taxes and other deadlines,'' he added.
Known as 245(i), the program was passed by Congress in
December, creating a four-month window in which immigrants
would be spared the cost and anxieties of returning to their
home countries to fill out the paperwork. Immigration
officials estimated that more than 600,000 people might be
eligible for the program, even though waiting for their
applications to be approved could take years, during which
they could still face deportation, as several people in Ohio
Acting on information provided in applications, immigration
agents in Cleveland arrested seven people at their homes and
initiated deportation. Officials in Washington have since
stepped in to prevent such actions, instructing all its
districts not to arrest illegal immigrants on the basis of
their 245(i) applications.
The program has been so widely applauded by human rights
groups that some have urged Congress to extend the deadline.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden, N.J., chairman of the
national Roman Catholic bishops' committee on migration,
said, ``without immediate Congressional action, many
immigrant families in the United States face unnecessary
upheaval and possibly lengthy separations.''
Congressional officials said tonight that the White House
was expected to support a bipartisan bill to extend the
program by one year.
Supporting the measure would be another step for President
Bush toward fulfilling the
pro-immigrant positions he articulated during the campaign.
Mr. Bush has pledged to work closely with Vicente Fox, the
new president of Mexico, to improve border safety and working
conditions for Mexicans living in the United States.
The crowds of people seeking the change in status today
were especially thick in cities with large numbers of illegal
immigrants. Luisa Aquino, a spokeswoman for the immigration
service in Houston, said nearly 2,000 people had applied by
midday and by midnight the number was expected to have
doubled. Immigration officials in Los Angeles said 2,600
people were standing in line when the office reopened at 6
In New York this morning, the police said the line
stretched from the entrance of the Federal Building, winded
its way through six rows of metal barriers and around a
Elba Contreas, 51, sat on the building steps this afternoon
with her brother, Jaime de la Fuente, 55, who is from Chile.
``We're going to be very happy when this is all over,'' said
Mrs. Contreas, who is a citizen.
Walter Diaz, 22, and his wife, Maria, beamed after they
dropped off Mrs. Diaz's application. ``I feel like a weight
has been lifted from my shoulders,'' Mrs. Diaz, who is from
Honduras, said as she kissed her husband, who is a citizen.
By 3 p.m. in Chicago, officials at the Chicago Loop
district had accepted nearly 600 applications, and in Boston,
where the immigration office typically handles paperwork from
35 to 50 people a day, officials said they expected to
process as many as 700 by midnight.
``The staff is mentally and physically exhausted,'' said
Steven J. Farquharson, the Boston district director.
An immigration service spokesman in Washington, William
Strassberger, said several offices around the country had
reported lines snaking for blocks around buildings. In
Montgomery County, Md., he said, couples were being married
every 15 minutes at county courthouses to enable them to beat
the midnight deadline. Denver and other cities also reported
a recent surge in marriage license applications.
Many immigrants said they had waited so long because of the
difficulties of raising the minimum filing fee of $1,000.
``It's the money, that's what we've been waiting for,''
said Gladys Duran, 20, who stood in line in Chicago with her
husband of one year, Carlos, 29, a painter.
The same was true for Jose Melendez, 23, a native of
Chihuahua, Mexico, who works as a drywall specialist in
Sterling, in northeast Colorado. He is the father of two of
his wife's five children.
``We didn't have no money,'' he said, as his wife of two
years, Stephanie, 24, waited in line.
Like other immigration offices, the one here had been
dealing with crowds swelling by the day. Last week, officials
said, they had arranged for two portable toilets to be
stationed outside the building. Today, they added two more. A
food truck selling only tocos and burritos pulled up and
quickly had its own line.
Roxanne Calderon, a 30-year-old cashier at a Safeway
supermarket, sat on a curb with her husband, Juan, 24, a
drywaller from Zacatecas, Mexico. He joined the line for the
paperwork at 9 p.m. Sunday; she joined him at 6 a.m. today.
``I want liberty, not to be hiding from deportation,'' he
said in Spanish. ``I want to go to Mexico and come back
without being deported.''
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman
from New York (Mr. Gilman).
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. GILMAN. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to support H.R. 1885,
sponsored by my distinguished colleague, the gentleman from
Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), and the ranking minority member, the
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), and I thank the distinguished
chairman of our Committee on the Judiciary, the gentleman from
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), for bringing this measure to the floor
at this time.
Madam Speaker, this measure expands the class of individuals who may
apply for adjustment of status under section 245(i) of the Immigration
and Nationality Act by expanding the deadline for classification
petition and labor certification filings by employers by 120 days.
Section 245(i) is a vital provision of our U.S. immigration law
allowing immigrants who are on the brink of becoming permanent
residents to apply for their green cards in the United States rather
than returning to their home countries to apply. The beneficiaries of
245(i) are immigrants residing in our Nation or are sponsored by close
family members or employers who cannot find necessary workers in our
Nation to perform the duties.
Immigrants applying for permanent status under this section are
eligible for green cards but are unable to obtain them in the United
States because they are not in a legal nonimmigrant status. The
immigrants situation may materialize on technical ground regarding the
visa process or because of INS delays.
In most instances, the question is not whether these individuals are
eligible to become permanent residents, because they already are. The
issue is where they can apply from. Each applicant must pay the
processing fee of $1,000. Not only does 245(i) generate revenue for our
INS, but it does not cost the taxpayers one cent.
Section 245(i) is supported by the 60,000 attorneys that comprise the
American Immigration Lawyers Association, and this extension will
afford those who, due to a lack of legal resources, could not file. To
force these hard working immigrants to return to their home countries
to apply for their green cards after they, in many cases, have built a
life for themselves in our Nation, creates an even greater injustice.
In closing, Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this
measure which will allow those immigrants, who satisfy critical labor
shortages, to apply for their green cards while living in our Nation
and not having to return to their home countries to wait for what could
be many years to get their approval.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that each side be
granted 15 additional minutes.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Michigan?
There was no objection.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from
New York (Mr. Rangel), the ranking member of the Committee on Ways and
Means and former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
(Mr. RANGEL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. RANGEL. Madam Speaker, let me thank the distinguished chairman
and ranking member of the Committee on the Judiciary for allowing me to
enter into this debate, which of course they have had so much
sensitivity, so much expertise, and have done so much work on.
Madam Speaker, I value American citizenship so much that I would hate
to see the day that we did not have rules that were strict or standards
that were high, because I think that citizenship is such a precious
thing that it should not be gained that easily. The thing that concerns
me, however, is how so many people whose families were able to come to
America under different standards, how sometimes when they get here,
they so easily forget and find it not only comfortable to pull the
ladder up behind them, but almost get emotional and angry in terms of
other people just trying to live here and trying to become citizens. It
is such a contagious disease that sometimes people who have yet to
learn to master the English language are condemning those who would
want to enter the United States.
I want to commend those Members of Congress that have asked us to
extend the time for good people to file. As the gentleman from New York
(Mr. Gilman) has said, these are people who, by every standard, have
done everything that they can. Some have families. Some have children
that have been born and are already citizens of this great country.
We cannot value being an American so much so we lose, as the
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Conyers) has said, the compassion of being
American. That is a part of it. And I would think those of us who did
not ask to come here or were brought from our country, torn away from
the breasts sometimes of mothers as they came as chattel, as slaves,
can almost visualize in our own congressional districts almost the same
thing happening, as people who work every day, work on farms, work in
diners, work in menial jobs, and then would have to believe that they
are going to be deported or they would have to leave and leave their
Now, the President has paused and asked the Congress to take a deep
breath. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) has said 4 months,
but of course we need to take a look at the technicalities and how high
the bar is, we need to try to understand what has to be done. Come and
visit my office and see the number of people that
have no idea as to what I can help or what I cannot help them to do,
but they actually come in and they come begging and they come crying,
they come bringing their children with little American flags saying,
``Congressman, help me.''
Now, I know that this Congress is not going to say that we value that
flag so much that it has to fly so high that so many hardworking people
who love this country are not going to be given the opportunity to
abide by our rules, to abide by our regulations, and to keep our
standard and become Americans. And I know the gentleman from New York
(Mr. King) knows this: They will become better Americans than those who
were just born here and take it for granted.
So let us not feel so proud when we are able to say we gave those
people enough time. They should have known. They should have had
lawyers. They should have understood. No, no, no. We are the ones that
have to understand. We are the ones that God blessed. We are the ones
that were born in this country. We are the ones that set the rules, and
we are the ones that can open our doors and our hearts to allow them to
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman
from New York (Mr. King).
Mr. KING. Madam Speaker, I thank the distinguished chairman for
yielding me this time, and I rise in support of H.R. 1885. And in doing
so, I want to commend the chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Sensenbrenner), for his work, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
Gekas), but also my colleagues on the Democratic side, the gentleman
from New York (Mr. Rangel), the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-
Lee), and others who have put so much effort into this.
I also want to commend the President for coming forward on this
issue, which can be an emotional issue, and setting the standard and
saying that 245(i) must be extended.
I introduced a bill myself, a bill which would have extended it 6
months. I also was an original cosponsor of the bill introduced by the
gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), which would have extended it 1
year. It was important to me 245(i) be extended because of the fact I
strongly believe immigrants are the lifeblood of our society.
As my colleague, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel) said, in
many cases, they become the very best Americans because they are here
by choice and they overcame great adversity to be here. Also, the
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), even though I am considerably
older than she is, we had the good opportunity to grow up in the same
borough in New York City, so we saw firsthand the tremendous impact and
positive impact that immigrants have had on our city, our State and our
country. So that is why I support strongly an extension of 245(i).
Now, today's bill is a 4-month extension. Some wanted 6, some wanted
a year, some wanted it to be permanent. But as the gentleman from
Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) said, this 4-month extension, when it all
plays out, will be closer to a 6-month extension. Let us not let the
perfect be the enemy of the good. Let us get what we can at this time
and protect those 200,000 people whose fortunes and lives are very
literally in our hands. It would be a tragedy if, by trying to get
more, we lost everything.
So I again commend the people who have put the time and effort into
this. I fully understand the sentiments for those who want a longer
extension. As I said, I could have supported a longer extension myself.
But the reality is there are many voices in the Congress; not all the
voices support the same thing. Not everyone supports an extension at
all. So to make sure that we protect the rights, the human rights of
those people living in this country who are entitled to have legalized
status, but because of the fact they could not file their papers on
time, for whatever reason, let us, not them, become victims by our
trying to achieve more than we can. Let us do the possible; let us do
what is real; what can be done.
Even the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) mentioned President
Johnson. The fact is, President Johnson did not do everything in 1964
or in 1965. There were further civil rights bills to continue that
revolution. Nothing is ever final. Let us get through what we can. Let
us do the art of the possible. Let us do the art of the practical and
stand together in our commitment to the American Dream, which is to,
yes, encourage immigration, do it in a legal way, but let us not make
the mistake today of not going forward on what is, at base and in
substance, a very sound piece of legislation.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I am proud now to yield 4 minutes to the
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Gutierrez), chairman of the Hispanic Task
Force on Immigration.
Mr. GUTIERREZ. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding this
time to me, and I thank all those working on this issue.
Let me just say that it would be nice to do what is possible, but let
us get one thing very, very clear. There was a vote on this House floor
in 1997, after the program was eliminated, and the House voted
affirmatively not to extend but to reinstate 245(i). That is the record
of the House of Representatives. It is the record of the Senate on more
than one occasion that they have voted to reinstate 245(i), the problem
is when it comes to conference.
So I think some of our colleagues think too little of the compassion
and of the justice that can be done in this House. It is my belief that
if we brought a vote back here for the reinstatement of 245(i), it
would pass the House of Representatives. This should have been dealt
with in the committee, the Committee on the Judiciary, marked up in the
Committee on the Judiciary, and brought before this House to have a
full debate so that we could amend it, so that we could listen to other
points of view.
I am standing here asking myself if my recollection of history has
somehow failed me. Last year, it was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
who went to Member after Member after Member; who went to the
Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the
Democratic Caucus, members of the Republican Party, and we put together
a coalition where over 155 Members of the House signed a letter stating
that they would not vote for any final budget unless there was a
reinstatement of 245(i). Forty-six Senators signed the same letter
saying they would vote for it. It was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
that 2 months ago sat with President George Bush, and we did not ask
for an extension of the program with an arbitrary deadline of May 1, we
asked for a reinstatement of the program. That is what we asked for.
And then it seems almost spectacular to me that we come on this House
floor and everybody has been spoken to. I do not remember one occasion
where members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus or those of us that
have put in bills have been spoken to. This is a one-way dialogue that
we are having here. If anyone had spoken to us, we would have all come
together. I think the gentleman from New York (Mr. King) and many, many
others know what is necessary, and I think they do not truly have a
sense of what this House would do.
Now, let me state very, very clearly who we are talking about and
what is wrong with this legislation. It says that an individual had to
have qualified by April 30 in order to get in on the program. That is
wrong. Why is it wrong? I want to tell my colleague, the gentleman from
Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) why it is wrong. Because there are tens of
thousands of people who have waited 2, 3, and 4 years for their
application for citizenship. They are still processing them; gathering
dust. And because of those years and years and years of delay on the
part of our government, on the part of our government, where people
have played by the rules, they cannot apply for their loved ones to get
their visas, since they are waiting for years, and they are going to
continue to wait for more years, and then we have an arbitrary 4
Now, if all that backlog were cleared up, I could understand it. The
fact is that if tomorrow a citizen of the United States becomes 21
years old, tomorrow, they cannot go and apply for a visa under 245(i)
for their mother, for their father. Yes, some may say they are here
undocumented illegally. That does not mean that is not their mother and
their father and they do not want to keep their families together.
Think about it a moment.
An American citizen who has a wife, a person that he loves, and that
couple may be bringing children into this world, may not qualify under
this program because they have consummated the marriage after the
Madam Speaker, we are talking about keeping families together. Some
say, ``They are here illegally.'' Maybe that is the case, but we eat
the fruits that they pick and labor for. We know that they are here in
our restaurants and our hotels. They work and slave every day. Let us
give them the chance to become full partners in this great democracy.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
New Jersey (Mr. Menendez), a distinguished member of the Hispanic
Caucus, a leader on our side of the aisle.
(Mr. MENENDEZ asked and was given permission to revise and extend his
Mr. MENENDEZ. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me
Madam Speaker, what is section 245(i)? For my colleagues who may be
watching in their offices, to the American people listening to the
debate, it was the law of the land. It was the law of the land.
We actually had as part of our immigration law a recognition for
several years as part of the immigration law that United States
citizens who have a member of their family, their husband or wife,
their mother or father, their brother or sister, their son or daughter,
who could be naturalized or seek permanent residency through them,
would have the opportunity to do so under that part of what was the law
of the land, and so that they could keep families together. That was
the law until not too long ago. So that is what we are debating about.
Madam Speaker, why not reinstitute what was the law of the land and
worked well. We have a public policy that I have heard debated on this
floor so many times in a domestic context about family unification and
the role of the family in our society, and the importance of family in
Madam Speaker, my colleagues have hundreds of thousands of United
States citizens and permanent residents who cannot keep their family
together because in a previous Congress we stripped what was the law of
the land and we took it away from all of them. Therefore, their
families were forced to make a decision: stay together but not be here
in a legal context; or divide and strip families apart.
We simply believe that 245(i), which was the law of the land, should
be the law of the land again because it produces a basic fundamental
public policy which I believe both sides of the aisle, but certainly my
Republican colleagues, have said time and time again is a primary
context of their efforts, which is the preservation of the family. That
is why 245(i) should proceed.
This is not about getting at the head of the line, not about getting
something that otherwise cannot be obtained because you will through
your relationship with a United States citizen ultimately be able to
become a permanent resident. Through a relationship with a permanent
resident of the United States, you will ultimately be able to get your
residency in terms of a spouse or a child. So why not keep these
families together? That is the public policy question before us.
Yes, we recognize that 4 months is an effort in the minds of some,
but it does not ultimately reach the goal that we want. Let us turn
this temporary extension into a permanent one. Let us understand if we
had a vote in this House, we would have a positive vote for a permanent
extension of 245(i), as we had in the last Congress.
Let us do the right thing. Let us seek a permanent extension, and let
us give the dignity to those families of United States citizens to be
able to keep their families together.
Announcement by the Speaker Pro Tempore
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Biggert). The Chair will remind Members
to address their remarks to the Chair and not to persons outside the
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
California (Mr. Becerra), a former member of the Committee on the
Judiciary, a distinguished lawyer.
Mr. BECERRA. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me
Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Sensenbrenner), the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and the
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the chairman of the
subcommittee, for bringing this matter to the floor.
I wish we could all say that it is the complete solution to the
problem that we encounter, that many families in America encounter, but
it is not. We are taking a step forward.
We were pleased to receive the word from the President recently that
he also believes that we need to address the problem under section
245(i), but we are going to come back. We are going to be back here
again because this will not be the final solution. In 4 months you will
not address the problems that are facing American families. You cannot
tell a spouse or a father or a daughter to stop trying if 4 months cuts
them off. That is not how you handle policies in Congress. We need to
move forward, but we are not going to do it in 4 months. I say we are
going to come back. We shall return.
Madam Speaker, we have to recognize something. In the past we were
just trying to get this Congress to do the right thing. Well, at least
now we are getting Congress to do the right thing; but we have to get
Congress to do the thing right.
That is where I hope that we will recognize that this is a way to go
about it. It is not going to deal with the problems that many of
America's families will face if we truly are about family unification
and if we are concerned about family values. We will recognize that. It
is not good enough if we leave one child out, if we leave one spouse
away from home. It is not good enough if we tell that one father, that
one daughter, that one sister, sorry, they missed the cutoff date. It
is time for us to try to deal with this in a permanent way.
Madam Speaker, we are here on the floor. We are going to move
forward, but I guarantee my colleagues, we will be back. I appreciate
the work that is being done on both sides of the aisle. I hope the
President recognizes that Members are working this issue, and we will
work together to try to fashion a solution to this that will tell
American families that we believe in family unification, and the value
of American families being part of the fabric of life.
Madam Speaker, I support this measure understanding that we will
still have to come back.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from
New York (Mr. Serrano).
Mr. SERRANO. Madam Speaker, I want to take the gentleman from
California's approach also and thank the majority party and the
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas) for bringing this measure to
the floor; and I will vote for it tonight.
However, upon voting for it I will continue to insist that we make
this a permanent situation. Obviously, bringing a bill to the floor
indicates a desire to solve this problem; but the 4-month extension
does not solve the problem. The President's comment about fixing this
problem means that he recognizes a need to do the right thing, but he
did not say 4 months, he said just fix it.
The INS, which came before the Appropriations Subcommittee on
Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary, said that they will accept at
the minimum a 1-year extension. Everyone has said that they will take
longer to solve the problem, and yet it has been decided to curtail the
time; and, thus, create perhaps another problem.
Let me remind my colleagues what the gentleman from New York (Mr.
Rangel) said. ``The folks that we are talking about are the folks who
will make the next generation of great Americans; who are, in fact,
today doing all those jobs Americans do not want to do, and doing those
things that so many of us need to have done.''
These are people who want to keep their families together, and that
is what this country is about. It is about immigration and it is about
family. It is ironic that this side, who gets accused for not talking
about family, we are the ones who are saying, let the
time be so these folks can stay in the country and continue to work and
continue to make our country strong.
Like my colleague, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Rangel), and so
many others, if one were to go to my district office on any given day,
over 80 percent of all the case work that we do is on the issue of
immigration. This issue is really hurting a lot of people.
If my colleagues had opened it up and said everyone can come in for 4
months, that still would have been better. But to suggest only those
who were ready April 30 to have their paperwork done, that is still
setting more stumbling blocks.
Yes, I will support this bill tonight. Hopefully my colleagues have
the votes to get it done. But immediately, let us begin to work on a
permanent situation. Madam Speaker, notice that I have mastered the
English language enough to know that it is incorrect to say a
``permanent extension,'' because somehow that is improper use of the
language. But let us do the right thing so we can all do what is right
for America and for these folks.
Mr. CONYERS. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my
Madam Speaker, this bill is a compromise, as was the provision in the
omnibus appropriation bill that was passed at the end of last Congress
was a compromise.
The 4-month provision in this bill seems to be attacked from all
sides. There are some who would like to make section 245(i) permanent;
and there are those who argue that we should not extend 245(i) because
there was a deadline, and the people who missed the deadline knew full
well what it was and did not file timely applications. This bill
attempts to take a middle course.
What is so wrong with 4 months? The provision in the omnibus
appropriation bill which was signed by former President Clinton on
December 21, 2000, established a period of 4 months and 10 days for
245(i) applications to be timely filed.
A lot of people did not timely file their 245(i) applications because
the Immigration and Naturalization Service waited until the middle of
March in order to issue the regulations for the extension. That was not
the fault of those who were eligible to apply; that was the fault of
the Immigration Service, and I think most of us who have immigration
cases in our own congressional office realize that this agency is
probably more dysfunctional or nonfunctional than any of the other
agencies of the Federal Government.
But they did get their act together until 2\1/2\ to 3 months after
the time established by the law went by. What this bill does is it says
okay, the INS goofed up and did not give everybody the 4 months, and so
we will start the clock ticking again. The 245(i) deadline will be 4
months from the date of enactment of the law that is proposed in H.R.
Now, whether the extension is 4 months or 6 months or a year or some
other time, human nature, being what it is, everybody waits until the
last minute to file their applications.
Madam Speaker, I think that the word should go out today from this
House of Representatives that if this legislation passes, do not wait
until the last day to file an application. I would hope that the
Immigration and Naturalization Service would be geared up to receive
these applications, and I know I speak for most of the members of the
Committee on the Judiciary, to inform the INS that we are going to be
all over them so they will receive the applications as of the date of
the enactment of the law; but the immigration groups and the
immigration bar should not tarry so that the immigration petitions
under section 245(i) will end up being filed well before the deadline
so that the INS can be in the process of adjudicating them and issuing
the proper visa.
Madam Speaker, this is a compassionate compromise to a very
contentious issue. I think that 4 months is a legitimate extension
because it was just a little more than 4 months that was contained in
the omnibus appropriation bill.
I would strongly urge the House to endorse this legislation, and I
urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on it.
Ms. PELOSI. Madam Speaker, I rise to express my strong support for a
real extension of Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act, and my concern that the four-month extension in this bill is far
Section 245(i) allows undocumented immigrants who are in the United
States and who become eligible for permanent residency because of their
family relationships or job skills to remain in the country while they
seek to adjust their status. They must qualify and pay a $1,000 penalty
before they obtain permanent residency.
In last year's final budget agreement, this provision was extended by
four months, through April 30 of this year. With the expiration of
Section 245(i), immigrants who wish to apply for legal residence must
return to their country of origin, where they are barred from returning
to the U.S. for up to 10 years. I know from my constituents that this
requirement will create a serious hardship for many families, forcing
loved ones to live apart for years.
The extension of Section 245(i) through April 30 offered a woefully
insufficient window of opportunity for immigrants to pursue legal
status. There simply were not enough community, professional, and INS
resources to meet the demand in such a brief amount of time. I am
pleased to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1195, introduced by Mr. Rangel, which
would extend the deadline by a full year.
The bill we are considering today, while it takes a step in the right
direction by extending Section 245(i) by four months, would result in a
replay of the same problems we witnessed leading up to the April 30
deadline. At the INS office in my district in San Francisco and around
the country, thousands of individuals stood in line on April 30, trying
to beat the deadline. Many were unsuccessful. Four months is simply too
I will continue my efforts to implement a long-term solution to this
problem. If we care about families, we need to help keep them together.
Mr. TOWNS. Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that the House of
Representatives will act today to extend the Section 245(i) program
which would allow family and employment-based immigrants who are
already eligible to become legal permanent residents to adjust their
immigration status while remaining in the U.S.
The four month extension provided in H.R. 1885, offers a direct
benefit to many people who are the immediate relatives of U.S.
citizens. Those individuals who are eligible for permanent residence
status will be able to remain in the U.S. while their visa applications
are processed. This relief will protect families from separation as
they seek to finally regularize their status. Without this extension,
many immigrants would be forced to make the difficult choice of leaving
the country and being barred from re-entry for as long as 10 years, or
remaining in the U.S. as undocumented aliens.
I am pleased that we are able to take this humanitarian step today to
promote family unity for thousands of people who will soon become our
``newest Americans''. I am hopeful that the House's vote today will
lead to quick action by the Senate and a bill being signed into law by
the President. And I would urge my colleagues to support its passage.
Mrs. MORELLA. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of an extension of
section 245(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. In fact, on
May 3, 2001, Congressman Gutierrez and I introduced H.R. 1713 which
would permanently extend this critical section.
The 245(i) provision allows for eligible immigrants to apply for
residency while remaining with their families and in their jobs in the
United States, provided they pay a $1,000 penalty. Section 245(i) does
not change the rules under which a visa is granted, merely the location
where the processing of the visa occurs. Those who participate in this
section must be eligible to obtain legal status in the form of
permanent residence in this country and must qualify for immigrant
visas on a family relationship or an offer of employment. They must
also have a visa number immediately available and must be otherwise
admissible to the United States.
With passage of the ``Legal Immigrant and Family Equity Act of 2000''
during the waning days of the 106th Congress, the grandfather clause
deadline of Section 245(i) was extended from January 14, 1998 until
April 30, 2001. The April 30th deadline is now well past. Eligible
immigrants are now required to apply at American consulates in their
home countries and, therefore, must risk being barred from returning to
their families and American jobs for anywhere between 3 and 10 years.
As the April 30th deadline approached, many immigrants suffered from
confusion surrounding 245(i) eligibility, as well as frustration with
fraudulent immigration service providers, commonly known as notarios.
In my District Office, my staff and I heard about many such cases each
and every month.
President Bush himself stated that roughly 200,000 immigrants who had
been eligible to file to adjust their status failed to do so in time.
He indicated that much of the confusion was a result of the United
States' government failure to issue instructions in a timely fashion.
President Bush even suggested that section 245(i) should be extended
for one year. For this reason, I support Congressman Gekas' legislation
only with the hope that it would lead to a longer extension or even a
A temporary extension is only a temporary solution. It is only with a
permanent extension of the deadline for Section 245(i) that Congress
will forever end the suffering of immigrant families that are ripped
apart by technicalities in immigration law.
In America, in the land of the free, we must restore our tradition as
a nation of immigrants, and a nation of justice, by enacting such
corrective legislation. The extension of 245(i) is pro-family, pro-
business, and overall humane policy.
Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise to support H.R.
1885, a bill which will expand the class of beneficiaries who may apply
for adjustment of status under section 245(i) of the Immigration and
Nationality Act by extending the deadline for classification petition
and labor certification filings.
H.R. 1885 will allow immigrants to apply for legal residence while
remaining in the United States, four months from the date of enactment
of this legislation. This extension is consistent with the Legal
Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act's intention to provide a small
window--which has been cut short due to administrative problems--to
permit aliens to adjust their status.
Immigrants may qualify if they have been in the United States since
December 21, 2000. I believe this legislation is fair and equitable
because it does not encourage illegal immigration or punish those who
are presently waiting to enter the United States legally. In addition,
H.R. 1885 requires that the family relationship or employment exists by
April 30, 2001 to discourage the possibility of false marriages by
illegal immigrants. Furthermore, H.R. 1885 will assist only the group
of immigrants eligible by the April 30th date, but failed to meet the
This is an important adjustment to the law because Section 245(i)
allows prospective family and employment based immigrants to adjust
their status to that of permanent resident while remaining in the
United States, rather than requiring them to return to their home
country to obtain an immigrant visa.
I believe that failing to extend the 245(i) provision would burden
American families and businesses, effectively splitting families apart
and placing business projects on hold for an inordinate and undue
amount of time. This is not in America's best interest.
I, therefore, encourage Members from both sides of the aisle to
support this fair and equitable adjustment to present immigration law.
Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R.
1885, the 245(i) Extension Act of 2001.
Section 245(i) is a vital provision of U.S. immigration law that
allows some immigrants on the brink of becoming permanent residents to
apply for their green cards while staying in the United States, rather
than having to return to their home countries to complete this time
Unfortunately we allowed this law to expire on April 30, 2001,
despite the fact that the INS said they had not had enough time to
notify everyone who was eligible to take advantage of this status.
Although I believe 245(i) should be permanent, extending it for 120
days through H.R. 1885 is a step in the right direction.
If we do not extend this law tonight people who are fully eligible
for green cards will be forced to return to their home countries and
barred from returning to the United States for anywhere from 3 to 10
years, despite the fact that they have homes, jobs, and families here.
I firmly believe that restoring 245(i) is pro-family, pro-business,
fiscally prudent, and a matter of common sense. It will allow
immigrants with close family members here in the United States to stay
with their relatives while applying for legal permanent residence; it
will allow businesses to retain valuable employees; and it will provide
the INS with millions in annual revenue with absolutely no additional
cost to taxpayers.
Extending section 245(i) will not give special benefits to illegal
immigrants and it will not allow anyone to cut in line ahead of others.
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this
legislation that is so important to thousands of American families.
Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition of H.R.
1885, 245(i) Extension Act of 2001. This 245(i) proposal in the House
is insufficient in time and stingy in scope.
The White House has stated support for an extension of 245(i) for 6
to 12 months, and there is bipartisan legislation in both Houses of
Congress for similar extensions. This new proposal of a limited 4-month
extension with restrictions has come to the floor without a hearing and
without appropriate, fair consideration. It is not consistent with the
spirit of President Bush's letter where he advocated for policies that
strengthen families and recognized that there was not enough time with
the previous four-month extension.
In December 2000, when Congress passed a 245(i) extension that
expired April 30, 2001, it took the INS over 3 months to issue the new
regulation, causing great panic and confusion among immigrants and
creating an opportunity for unscrupulous and fraudulent immigration
``advisors.'' This new provision, needing new regulations will only
create more delay, chaos and unnecessary hardship on immigrants with
real claims to legal status.
A 245(i) provision helps people in this country who otherwise qualify
for legal permanent residency. It is not an amnesty, but rather a way
for people with deep roots in this country to reunite their families
and work their way towards citizenship and full participation in their
adopted country. A meaningful extension must go beyond 4 months and
should not impose new arbitrary requirements.
This proposed extension is a superficial and transparent political
gesture, which recreates problems we are seeking to rectify from the
last extension we passed. It appears to do something positive for
immigrant families. However, I believe that it is a proposal that
demonstrates that we have not learned anything from our previous
mistakes. We need to pass and implement a comprehensive solution to
families that are separated from their loved ones and not prolong,
perpetuate, or further complicate their problem. While I fully support
a 245(i) extension that provides real relief to families, I strongly
stand in opposition to this hastily considered, incomplete and
impractical proposal before us now.
Ms. SOLIS. Madam Speaker, I rise to speak about H.R. 1885, which
would extend Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for
I am disappointed that H.R. 1885 will only allow the extension of
245(i) for four months. This small extension will not offer enough time
for thousands of people to apply. Section 245(i) needs to be extended
for a longer period of time because thousands of immigrants were not
able to meet the April 30, 2001 deadline.
I am also concerned that the new requirements of H.R. 1885 will force
the INS to issue regulations that will take three months or more to be
implemented. This will only leave people with a month or less to apply.
H.R. 1885 also imposes unfortunate new restrictions on eligibility
that will greatly limit the pool of potential beneficiaries.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has written a letter to President
Bush stating our disappointment in H.R. 1885. In order to unite and
strengthen families, we need a permanent extension of 245(i). A
permanent extension will keep the maximum number of families united,
help avoid fraud perpetrated against immigrants seeking assistance, and
allow for a steady stream of funding for Department of Justice
This month President Bush sent a letter to Congress indicating his
support of a six to twelve month extension of 245(i). I do not
understand why the Republican leadership has chosen to advance a bill
with only a four month extension when the Bush Administration clearly
supports a longer extension.
H.R. 1885 does not do enough to help immigrants in need. I hope
Congress and the Administration can work together in the future to
implement either a one year or permanent extension of 245(i).
Ms. DeGETTE. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1885, a bill
that will extend by four months the time for eligible individuals to
apply for permanent resident status in the United States. While this
bill does not extend the deadline by a year or make it permanent as I
would prefer, it is a humane effort and a good first step to assist
people eligible for permanent residency.
To be eligible to apply for permanent residency, an individual must
have family in the US or must be sponsored by an employer. However,
under current law, eligible individuals cannot file while in the US.
Instead, they must leave the country and file from abroad. By forcing
people to leave the country, we are ensuring that lives are uprooted,
families are separated, and valuable jobs are lost.
Expanding Section 245(i) of the immigration code is necessary to keep
families together and to promote steady employment. It would grant no
special rights or status for immigrants but would instead clear an
expensive and time-consuming procedural hurdle for people already
living in the United States who are eligible to apply for permanent
residency status. As the deadline approached last month, INS offices
across the country remained open for extended hours to allow eligible
people to apply in the US. Almost all the people who apply are
approved, therefore, we should extend the deadline. H.R. 1885 is a
humane response to a provision of the law that does not make sense and
should be changed. It is my hope and understanding that although this
bill does not make this section of immigration law permanent, Congress
will act soon to enact further extensions. I urge my colleagues to vote
for this bill.
Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, this Member rises in strong opposition
to H.R. 1885, the 245(i) Extension Act of 2001. By allowing illegal
aliens to buy legal permanent residence for $1,000, Section 245(i)
places American lives at risk.
Although the current legal immigration structure is by no means
perfect, it does provide for crucial health screening and criminal
record background checks which determine if potential immigrants will
place the well-being and security of American citizens and legal
immigrants in danger. To make such determinations is not only the right
of the United States as a sovereign country, it should be its foremost
Madam Speaker, Section 245(i) ultimately rewards those people who
have thwarted the legal immigration structure by entering the country
illegally or by allowing their legal status to lapse. Simultaneously,
the policy penalizes potential immigrants who have patiently waited
many years, completed many forms, and undergone appropriate screenings
for the privileged opportunity to be reunited with family members and
to work in the United States.
Madam Speaker, Section 245(i) was a bad policy when it was first
enacted in 1994. It was not worthy of being re-instated during the
previous 107th Congress, and it should not be further extended.
Mrs. MINK of Hawaii. Madam Speaker, today I rise in strong support of
at least a minimum one-year extension to the April 30, 2001, filing
deadline under Section 245(i), allowing certain persons to remain in
the United States while they pursue legal residency.
The bill before us, H.R. 1885, would extend the immigration filing
deadline under Section 245(i) for only four months. At best, it
acknowledges the importance of this program. However, it is absolutely
inadequate time to resolve the problem.
In the 106th Congress, the Legal Immigration and Family Equity Act
(LIFE) had a filing deadline of April 30, 2001. INS did not finalize
the regulations for LIFE until March 26, 2001. This allowed only barely
a month--just over 30 days--for petitioners to be informed of the
regulations and to file their applications. This short time frame
fostered the dissemination of wrong or inadequate information.
Additionally, H.R. 1885 requires that an applicant seeking to adjust
his status under 245(i) must prove that he was physically present on
December 21, 2000, and that they established a familial or employment
relationship that serves as the basis of their petition. Fulfilling
this requirement is not an easy process. Obtaining the necessary
documentation will require more than 4 months.
At the April 30, 2001, deadline, 200,000 persons had pending
applications. This is due partly to the fact that INS was not able to
handle the tremendous influx of applications.
Madam Speaker, a minimum one year extension of the filing deadline is
imperative in order to fulfill the purpose and intent of the LIFE Act.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support a minimum
one-year extension of the filing deadline under Section 245(i). It is
the right thing to do.
Mrs. McCARTHY of New York. Madam Speaker, it goes without saying
that, as legislators, our goal is to pass the best legislation
possible. Extending the deadline for people to adjust their immigration
status under Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act
is the right thing to do. In this case, the goal is to allow everyone
who is eligible under the law, to obtain permanent legal residence.
Unfortunately, I fear a four month extension is an incomplete remedy.
Consideration of this legislation says volumes about the way business
is conducted in the House. The Speed with which this bill has been
brought to the floor was noticeably absent on April 30th. This House
was uncharacteristically silent about the pending deadline. While I'm
pleased that we finally have the opportunity to talk about extending
the deadline, I'm concerned about the circumvention of the committee
process and the noticeably shorter extension period. We have not had a
fair hearing on the alternatives, such as the bill Congressman King and
I introduced after working closely with state and local officials in
New York, that gives eligible people an adequate window of opportunity
to adjust their status by extending the deadline by six months.
The process of adjusting one's immigration status can be confusing
and that misinformation is rampant in the immigrant community. As we
cast our votes for or against this bill, we have to ask ourselves a
number of important questions: is four months enough time; are we
setting ourselves up for a repeat of the last deadline, when long lines
of eligible people inundated the I.N.S. offices and many were excluded;
and finally, is this bill a fair and reasonable compromise designed to
help those who deserve it. I fear it is something less. We could have
done better. The people deserve better.
Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I rise to support the House
Resolution 1885 to expand the class of beneficiaries who may apply for
adjustment of status under section 245(i) of the Immigration and
As I understand it, the purpose of this legislation is to enable
eligible illegal immigrants to apply for legal residence in the United
States without being forced to leave the country while waiting for
Whereas President Bush would like this program to be extended for
another 12 months, the four-month extension proposed by my colleague,
Representative George Gekas is a sensible approach. This alternative
approach would be beneficial to all concerned parties, particularly if
family or employment ties are already in existence.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Biggert). The question is on the motion
offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) that the
House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 1885.
The question was taken.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of
those present have voted in the affirmative.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be
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