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[Congressional Record: June 6, 2001 (House)]
[Page H2901-H2903]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr06jn01-89]                         
 
                  CHILD STATUS PROTECTION ACT OF 2001

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass 
the bill (H.R. 1209) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
determine whether an alien is a child, for purposes of classification 
as an immediate relative, based on the age of the alien on the date the 
classification petition with respect to the alien is filed, and for 
other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 1209

       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 ``Child Status Protection Act 
     of 2001''.

     SEC. 2. USE OF AGE ON PETITION FILING DATE, PARENT'S 
                   NATURALIZATION DATE, OR MARRIAGE TERMINATION 
                   DATE, IN DETERMINING STATUS AS A CHILD OF A 
                   CITIZEN.

       (a) In General.--Section 201 of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151) is amended by adding at the 
     end the following:
       ``(f) Rules for Determining Whether Certain Aliens Are 
     Immediate Relatives.--
       ``(1) Age on petition filing date.--Except as provided in 
     paragraphs (2) and (3), for purposes of subsection 
     (b)(2)(A)(i), a determination of whether an alien satisfies 
     the age requirement in the matter preceding subparagraph (A) 
     of section 101(b)(1) shall be made using the age of the alien 
     on the date on which the petition is filed with the Attorney 
     General under section 204 to classify the alien as an 
     immediate relative under subsection (b)(2)(A)(i).
       ``(2) Age on parent's naturalization date.--In the case of 
     a petition under section 204 initially filed for an alien 
     child's classification as a family-sponsored immigrant under 
     section 203(a)(2)(A), based on the child's parent being 
     lawfully admitted for permanent residence, if the petition is 
     later converted, due to the naturalization of the parent, to 
     a petition to classify the alien as an immediate relative 
     under subsection (b)(2)(A)(i), the determination described in 
     paragraph (1) shall be made using the age of the alien on the 
     date of the parent's naturalization.
       ``(3) Age on marriage termination date.--In the case of a 
     petition under section 204 initially filed for an alien's 
     classification as a family-sponsored immigrant under section 
     203(a)(3), based on the alien's being a married son or 
     daughter of a citizen, if the petition is later converted, 
     due to the legal termination of the alien's marriage, to a 
     petition to classify the alien as an immediate relative under 
     subsection (b)(2)(A)(i), the determination described in 
     paragraph (1) shall be made using the age of the alien on the 
     date of the termination of the marriage.''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) 
     shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act 
     and shall apply to all petitions and applications pending 
     before the Department of Justice or the Department of State 
     on or after such date.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. 
Jackson-Lee) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner).

                             General Leave

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 1209, as amended.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Wisconsin?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1209, the Child Status Protection Act of 2001, was 
introduced by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the Chairman 
of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, and the ranking member, 
the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
  This bill is another example of Congress having to clean up a mess 
made by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Under current law, 
aliens residing in the United States who are eligible for permanent 
resident status must adjust their status with the INS. However, INS 
processing delays have caused up to a 3-year wait for adjustment. For 
alien children of U.S. citizens, this delay in processing can have 
serious consequences, for once they turn 21 years of age, they lose 
their immediate relative status.
  An unlimited number of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can 
receive green cards each year. However, there are a limited number of 
green cards available for the adult children of U.S. citizens.
  If a U.S. citizen parent petitions for a green card for a child 
before that child turns 21, but the INS does not get around to 
processing the adjustment of status application until after the child 
turns 21, the family is out of luck. The child goes to the end of the 
waiting list. The child is being punished because of the INS 
ineptitude, and that is not right.
  H.R. 1209 corrects this outcome by providing that a child shall 
remain eligible for immediate relative status as long as an immigrant 
visa petition was filed for him or her before turning 21.
  The fact that we have to consider debate and pass this bill is just 
one more reason why the Immigration and Naturalization Service needs to 
be dismantled and restructured. I await eagerly for the 
administration's INS reform proposal, because it cannot come too soon. 
I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to offer my support for the 
Child Status Protection Act of 2001 and to thank our subcommittee 
chairman, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), for joining me 
and leading on this particular initiative, which is the

[[Page H2902]]

result and the culmination of a bipartisan agreement, that addresses 
the status of unmarried children of U.S. citizens, who turn 21 while in 
the process of having an immigrant visa petition adjudicated. In 
particular, Mr. Speaker, let me say that we have been working on this 
for a very long time, and we are delighted that the House will have an 
opportunity to vote on this today.
  The age and marital status of the offspring of U.S. citizens 
determine whether they are eligible for immigrant status as immediate 
relatives or under the family-first preference category. Briefly, H.R. 
1209 would protect the status of children of United States citizens who 
age out while awaiting the processing and adjudication of immediate 
relative petitions.
  Let me thank our chairman, the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. 
Sensenbrenner), and the ranking member, the gentleman from Michigan 
(Mr. Conyers). I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman 
Sensenbrenner) for his remarks in support of this legislation today and 
join him in realizing that we all look forward to the INS restructuring 
in order to have these problems internally fixed.
  In this instance, we have had to fix this by legislative initiative. 
The child of a U.S. citizen is eligible for admission as an immediate 
relative. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are not subject to any 
numerical restrictions. Again, this is a focus on accessing 
legalization or ensuring that those immigrants who are here are able to 
seek legalization and become citizens or legal residents, as is 
important.
  That is, visas are immediately available to immediate relatives under 
the statute, subject only to the processing time required to adjudicate 
the immediate relative visa petition. Thus, the only wait that such 
children are required to endure is the time it takes to process their 
paperwork. When a child of the U.S. citizen ages out by becoming 21, 
the child automatically shifts from the immediate-relative category to 
the family-first preference category.

                              {time}  1100

  This puts him or her at the end of a long waiting list for a visa. 
It, therefore, diminishes the ability to access legalization.
  Generally, 23,400 family-first preference visas are available each 
year to the adult, unmarried sons and daughters of citizens. As of 
January 1997, 93,376 individuals were on the waiting list. For 
nationals of Mexico, visas are now available for petitions filed by 
April 1994. For nationals of the Philippines, visas are now available 
for petitions filed by May 1988. Thus some sons and daughters of 
citizens will have to stay on a waiting list from 2 to 13 years 
entirely because the INS did not in a timely manner process the 
applications for adjustment of status on their behalf.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1209 addresses the predicament of these immigrants 
seeking legalization who, through no fault of their own, lost the 
opportunity to obtain an immediate relative visa before they reach age 
21.
  This bill corrects the problem of aging-out under current law. 
However, once children reach 21 years of age, they are no longer 
considered immediate relatives under the INS. Thus, instead of being 
entitled to admission without numerical limitation, the U.S. citizens' 
sons and daughters are placed in the back of the line of one of the INS 
backlog family-preference categories of immigrants.
  This bill, with the new added compromise language that I proposed 
last year, will solve the age-out problem without displacing others who 
have been waiting patiently in other visa categories. In essence, Mr. 
Speaker, we have a bill that provides a solution, but is also 
equitable. It is fair to all who are now under this particular process; 
and more importantly, it gives the INS the tools it needs to work with 
to be fair to those who are themselves seeking to be governed by the 
laws of the United States of America.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our chairman, our ranking member 
of the full committee, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), 
the subcommittee chairman; and I look forward to further bipartisan 
agreements in the future.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Immigration and Claims.
  (Mr. GEKAS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time.
  The explanation of the bill as offered by both the chairman and the 
ranking minority member of the subcommittee in question suffices to 
place on the record an opportunity for the House of Representatives and 
eventually the entire Congress to approve this piece of legislation. My 
biggest fear that it might not pass is that it makes sense. The bill 
makes adequate, perfect common sense. That has always been a drawback 
to final successful passage of legislation as we have noted over the 
years.
  Why does it make common sense? It simply makes certain that an 
individual who is a minor at the time that his or her parents filed for 
the adjustment of status and who then turns 21, under the current law, 
is thrown into a completely different category and could wait years for 
final adjudication of that particular status. What this bill does is 
treat the person who turns 21 as if he were or she were a minor at the 
time that the status was first filed.
  What I hope this is is a signal to all that our subcommittee and the 
full Committee on the Judiciary have been and will continue to be very 
sensitive to individual cases of injustice on a whole range of issues. 
These injustices were perpetrated in this particular set of 
circumstances inadvertently by the way that the original law was 
fashioned. What we do here today is adjust, through the use of common 
sense, a bad situation. We know that horror stories of other types will 
confront us, but at least we have a chance to correct a series of 
horror stories here today.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask for everyone to support this legislation.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I have no further speakers. I 
simply want to conclude by saying that we worked two sessions on this 
legislation. We believe that this will reunite families. This is what 
our immigration laws are all about, to unite families.
  Again, I want to offer my thanks to the chairman of the full 
committee and the chairman of the subcommittee, as well as the ranking 
member of the full committee.
  Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague, 
George Gekas, Chairman of the Immigration and Claims Subcommittee, and 
Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson-Lee for introducing H. R. 
1209, the ``Child Status Protection Act of 2001.''
  This legislation addresses a problem I have been concerned about 
since the last Congress. Children of citizens are penalized because it 
takes the INS an unacceptable length of time--often years--to process 
adjustment of status applications. In some cases the wait is so long 
that minor children become adults while waiting for the INS to act. 
When they become adults, they lose the privileged status of immediate 
relatives of citizens and are placed at the end of the first preference 
waiting list. This means an additional wait of 2-13 years for their 
green cards.
  H. R. 1209 provides that an alien child of a U.S. citizen shall 
remain eligible for immediate relative status as long as an immigrant 
visa petition was filed before the child turned 21.
  I hope that after Congress restructures the INS and the federal 
government provides immigration benefits in a more professional and 
expeditious manner, we won't need to pass bills such as H. R. 1209.
  I urge my colleagues to support this piece of legislation.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my 
time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Sununu). 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. 1209, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of 
those present have voted in the affirmative.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and 
nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.

[[Page H2903]]

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be 
postponed.

                          ____________________


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