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[Congressional Record: May 24, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S5618-S5637]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
      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:

                                 S. 949

  [Data not available at time of printing.]

                                                Sausalito, CA,

                                                   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 
     reference #A78192014.)
       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 

[[Page S5623]]

     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.
           Sincerely yours,
                                                        John Mark.

      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.

[[Page S5632]]

 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 
to Haiti.
  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

[[Page S5633]]

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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