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[Congressional Record: May 24, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
By Mrs. FEINSTEIN:
S. 949. A bill for the relief of Zhenfu Ge; to the Committee on the
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to offer today,
legislation to provide lawful permanent residence status to Zhenfu Ge.
Mrs. Ge is the grandmother of two U.S. citizen children who face the
devastation of being separated from their grandmother after losing
their mother just last month.
Mrs. Ge came to the United States in 1998 to help care for her two
grandchildren while her U.S. citizen daughter Yanyu Wang and her son-
in-law John Marks worked. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Ge's daughter filed
an immigration petition on her behalf. She was scheduled for an April
26 Immigration and Naturalization Service, INS, interview, which is the
last step in the green card process. The family anticipated that the
interview would result in Mrs. Ge's gaining a green card.
In a tragic turn of events, Mrs. Ge's daughter was diagnosed with a
rare and deadly form of lymphoma and given only 7 months to live. As
Mrs. Wang's health quickly declined, she asked her mother to care for
her 3-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son after her death. Mrs. Ge
promised her daughter she would care for her grandchildren and quickly
became the most active maternal figure in their lives.
On April 15 of this year, 11 days before Mrs. Ge's scheduled INS
interview, her daughter died. Because current law does not allow Mrs.
Ge to adjust her status without her daughter, Mrs. Ge now faces
This family has certainly felt the pain of a significant tragedy.
With the death of Yanyu Wang, her family must begin to rebuild their
lives and face a future without their loved one. Losing a grandmother
to deportation will only further the grief and compromise the emotional
health of her two young grandchildren, who are still mourning the loss
of their mother. According to her son-in-law, John Mark, Mrs. Ge
``represents continuity and a tie to their mother for our children, and
her presence will allow me to continue to successfully support my
Mrs. Ge has done everything she could to become a permanent resident
of this country. But for the tragedy of her daughter's untimely death,
she likely would have attained that status.
I hope my colleagues will support this private legislation so that we
can help Mrs. Ge, her grandchildren, and son-in-law begin to rebuild
their lives in the wake of their family tragedy and allow Mrs. Ge to
keep the promise she made to her daughter.
I ask for unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in
the Record. I also ask unanimous consent that the letter from Mr. Marks
be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in
the Record, as follows:
[Data not available at time of printing.]
April 19, 2001.
Hon. Dianne Feinstein,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Senator Feinstein: I write to appeal for your help in
an exceptional immigration case regarding my mother-in-law,
Zhenfu Ge (United States Immigration & Naturalization Service
Mrs. Ge came to the United States from her native Shanghai,
China in 1998 after our daughter was born. The purpose of her
immigration was to care for our infant and for our nine-year-
old son to enable my wife and me to work. I have lived in
California most of my life and I work for Kaiser Permanente
in San Rafael; my wife, Yanyu Wang, was a research scientist
for Onyx Pharmaceuticals in Richmond, and a naturalized
citizen of the United States.
We had applied for naturalization for Mrs. Ge to allow her
to remain in the United States to care for her grandchildren
indefinitely. We had every expectation that the INS hearing
set for April 26 (see correspondence enclosed) would result
in the successful completion of her application.
My wife had learned that she was suffering from lymphoma in
1999. Unfortunately, despite every possible medical
intervention, she died on April 15, eleven days before her
mother's hearing for naturalization. We are advised by our
attorney that absent her daughter, Mrs. Ge's case will be
dismissed out-of-hand, and she will be forced to return to
I hope you will agree that Mrs. Ge's presence in our family
is even more important following the death of my wife. She is
only maternal figure for our children, she represents
continuity and a tie to their mother for our children, and
her presence will allow me to continue to successfully
support my family notwithstanding the reduction of our income
to a single salary.
Before she died, my wife implored her mother to do
everything possible to remain in the United States to ensure
that our children would be raised with her care and love. I
ask for your help in enabling this to happen.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
By Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. Graham, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Kerry,
Mr. Wellstone, Mr. Dodd, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Feingold,
and Mr. Akaka):
S. 955. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to modify
restrictions added by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration
Responsibility Act of 1996; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I am honored to join my colleagues,
Senators Graham, Leahy, Kerry, Wellstone, Dodd, Inouye, Akaka,
Feingold, and Durbin in introducing the Immigrant Fairness Restoration
Act. This legislation will restore the balance to our immigration laws
that was lost when Congress amended the immigration laws in 1996.
The changes made in 1996 went too far. They have had harsh
consequences that punish families and violate individual liberty,
fairness and due process.
Families are being torn apart. Persons who present no danger to their
communities have been left to languish in INS detention. Individuals
are being summarily deported from the United States, to countries they
no longer remember, separated from all that they know and love.
The bill we are introducing will undo many of these harsh
consequences. It will eliminate the retroactive application of the 1996
changes. Permanent residents who committed offenses long before the
enactment of the 1996 laws should be able to apply for the relief from
removal under the law as it existed when the offense was committed.
Current immigration laws too often punish permanent residents out of
all proportion to their crimes. Relatively minor offenses are turned
into aggravated felonies. Permanent residents who did not have criminal
convictions or serve prison sentences are blocked from all relief from
Our proposal restores the discretion that immigration judges
previously had and responsibly exercised to evaluate cases on an
individual basis and grant relief from deportation to deserving
persons. Currently, immigration judges are precluded from granting such
relief to many permanent residents, regardless of the circumstances or
equities in the cases. As a result of the 1996 laws, the judges' hands
are tied, even in the most compelling cases. This legislation will
allow immigration judges to return to their proper role.
Our bill will also end mandatory detention. The Attorney General will
have the authority to release from detention persons who do not pose a
danger to the community and are not a flight risk. Detention is an
extraordinary power that should only be used in extraordinary
circumstances. A judge should have the discretion to release from
detention persons who are not a danger to the community and who do not
pose a flight risk.
Clearly, dangerous criminals should be detained and deported. But
indefinite detention must end. No public purpose is served by wasting
valuable resources detaining non-dangerous individuals, many of whom
have lived in this country with their families for many years,
established strong ties to their communities, paid taxes, and
contributed in other ways to the fabric of our Nation.
The 1996 laws also stripped the Federal courts of any authority to
review the decisions of the INS and the immigration courts. Under
present law, harsh determinations are often made at the unreviewable
discretion of INS officers. Fundamental decisions are made on the basis
of a brief review of a few pages in a file, or a perfunctory
administrative hearing, without judicial review. Our proposal will
restore such review. Immigrants deserve their day in court.
Americans are proud of our heritage and history as a nation of
immigrants. It is long past time for Congress to correct the laws
enacted in 1996.
Many heart-wrenching stories could be cited about the ``nightmares''
created by the 1996 laws and the people caught by its provisions.
Consider the case of Carlos Garcia, who fled from his native land of
El Salvador in 1978 during the civil war. Upon arriving in the United
States, he became fluent in English and attended a local community
college, and in 1982, he became a permanent resident. All of his family
live in this country, including his U.S. citizen parents.
In 1993, he pleaded guilty to taking $200 from a department store
where he worked. He was sentenced to two years of probation, with a
suspended jail sentence, and he completed his probation early. Apart
from this single offense, he has no criminal history. For years, he has
worked as a caterer, holding a security clearance, since his employer
handled functions in Congress, the State Department and White House. He
regularly attends church and participates in a bone marrow transplant
program to help children.
In 1998, the INS placed Carlos in removal proceedings after he
returned from a four-day vacation cruise. Because the 1996 laws made
his crime an aggravated felony, the immigration judge no longer had
discretion to consider evidence of his positive contributions to his
community, his family ties, or the potential hardship that severing
those ties may cause.
Or consider the case of Claudette Etienne, who fled from Haiti at the
age of 23, and was a legal resident of the United States for 20 years.
She had two young U.S. citizen children and lived with her husband in
Miami. One day, during an argument, Claudette threatened her husband
with a broken bottle, and was sentenced to a year of probation. In June
1999, she was found guilty of selling a small amount of cocaine and was
sentenced to another year of probation. When she was summoned to see
her probation officer in February 2000, INS officers arrested her and
placed her in deportation proceedings under the 1996 immigration laws.
She was imprisoned in an INS detention center for the next seven
months, and in September was taken by U.S. Marshals and put on a flight
Upon arriving in Haiti, the police immediately jailed her in a cell
that was pitch black. The air was thick with the stench of human sweat
and waste, and the temperature reached 105 degrees. Claudette had to
rely on the compassion of prisoners and guards for food, since the jail
provided none. During her imprisonment in Haiti, she became sick with
fever, stomach pains, diarrhea, and constant vomiting from drinking tap
water. She died in the jail a few days later.
Surely, Congress cannot ignore such abuses. Even many proponents of
the 1996 laws now admit that these changes went too far and need to be
corrected as soon as possible. The Immigrant Fairness Restoration Act
will help to protect families, assure fairness and due process, and
restore the integrity of our immigration laws, and I urge all my
colleagues to support it.
Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleagues,
Senators Kennedy, Dodd, Durbin, Inouye, Kerry, Leahy, Akaka, and
Wellstone to introduce the Immigrant Fairness Restoration Act of 2001.
This legislation brings balance back to the legal system. It rights
some of the wrongs of the 1996 immigration law. It restores fairness
and justice to everyone in our country.
As it stands today, the immigration laws violate those core American
The original aim of the 1996 immigration bill was to control illegal
immigration. In practice, the law hurts legal permanent residents and
others who entered, or wanted to enter, the United States legally.
The 1996 laws, Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act, IIRAIRA, and Antiterrorism and Effective Death
Penalty Act, AEDPA, mandated deportation of legal aliens for relatively
insignificant crimes. For the most part, these are crimes for which
they have already served their punishment. They have restricted access
to legal counsel and virtually no recourse in the courts.
This violates the tradition of our country. It also violates the
essence of our legal system. Our constitution demands that no person
shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of
law. This fundamental right applies to all persons, regardless of their
paperwork or where they were born.
Our legal system should be about granting people their day at court,
to provide a second chance, to keep the rules of the game fair.
When we think about fairness, or lack of fairness, we should think
about personal stories. John Gaul, formerly from Tampa, FL, has been
punished twice for his mistakes. John was adopted from Thailand by his
U.S. citizen parents when he was 4 years old. As a teenager, he was
convicted of car theft and credit card fraud, two nonviolent offenses
for which he served 20 months in jail. John does not remember Thailand.
He does not speak Thai, nor does he know of relatives there. None of
that mattered. John was deported to Thailand and may never be allowed
to return to his parents in the United States.
Was it fair to threaten Carolina Murry of Neptune Beach with
deportation for voting, even though she never knew she was not a U.S.
citizen? Carolina's father told her that she had become a U.S. citizen
shortly after she moved with him from the Dominican Republic at the age
of 3. Only in 1998, when she applied for a passport, did she learn that
in fact she was not. In the process of becoming a citizen, INS
officials asked her if she ever voted in a
U.S. election. She replied she had, because she takes her civic duties
seriously. As a consequence, INS not only denied her application but
also told her that she faced criminal prosecution and deportation for
voting illegally. Only after the case caught media attention and raised
a lot of public protest did the charges get dropped.
Would it be fair to separate Aarti Shahani, a U.S. citizen, from her
father, a legal permanent resident in the United States since 1984? Her
father, a small businessman, is facing deportation to India. As early
as next week he will be transferred to INS detention following a State
sentence relating to his failure to report taxable business earnings.
Aarti has taken a leave from the University of Chicago to help support
her family. She and her two U.S. citizen siblings continue to fight for
their father's right to stay in the United States. They are fighting to
keep the family together.
Earlier this month, President Bush urged Congress to establish
immigration laws that recognize the importance of families and that
help to strengthen them. The Immigrant Fairness Restoration Act does
exactly that. Right now, our immigration laws tear families apart. The
laws are harsh and offer no chance for review or appeal.
I strongly believe that criminals should be punished. They should
repay their debt to society by incarcertaion, monetary restitution or
other sanctions. But I also believe that everyone deserves a chance at
a fresh start after the debts are paid. No one should be punished
The 1996 law went too far. It is time to eliminate retroactivity. It
is time to restore a system that punishes legal residents in proportion
to their crimes. It is time to restore discretion so immigration judges
can evaluate cases individually and grant relief to those deserving. It
is time to ensure legal residents are not needlessly jailed or
We need legislation that lives up to our nation's legacy as a country
of immigrants. I urge my colleagues to support the Immigrant Fairness
Restoration Act to grant everyone equal protection under the law.
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