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[Congressional Record: July 11, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S7496-S7518]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
      By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. Hagel):
  S. 1167. A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to 
permit the substitution of an alternative close family sponsor in the 
case of the death of the person petitioning for an alien's admission to 
the United States; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce on behalf of 
myself and Mr. Hagel, the Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001. This 
legislation would address the situation of those whose U.S. sponsor 
dies while they have the chance to adjust status or receive an 
immigrant visa.
  Under current law, a family member who petitions for a relative to 
receive an immigrant visa must sign a legally binding affidavit of 
support promising to provide for the support of the immigrant. This is 
the last step before a green card is issued. If the family sponsor dies 
while the green card application is pending, the applicant is forced to 
find a new sponsor and restart the application process, usually a 7- to 
8-year process, or face deportation.
  The legislation I have introduced today would correct this anomaly in 
the law by permitting another family member to stand in for the 
deceased sponsor and sign the affidavit. Without this legislation, 
another relative who qualifies as a family sponsor would have to file a 
new immigrant visa petition on behalf of the relative and the relative 
would have to go to the end of the line if the visa category is 
numerically limited. Thus, the beneficiary would lose his priority date 
for a visa based on the filing of the first petition, and in some 
cases, face deportation.
  With the passage of this legislation, even though there may be a 
different sponsor, the beneficiary would not lose his or her priority 
date to be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States. Nor 
will the beneficiary be subject to deportation even though they meet 
all the requirements for an immigrant visa.
  A classic example of this situation was presented to my office just 
recently. Earlier this year I introduced a private bill on behalf of 
Zhenfu Ge, a 73-year-old Chinese grandmother whose daughter died before 
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, INS, was able to complete 
the final stage of application process: her interview. As a result, her 
immigration application is no longer valid and she is now subject to 
deportation. The private bill I introduced would allow her to adjust 
her status, given that she has met all the requirements for a visa.
  In previous years, I have introduced other private bills which 
eventually became law. One bill was on behalf of Suchada Kwong, whose 
husband was killed in a car accident just weeks before her final 
interview with the INS. In 1997, I introduced a private bill on behalf 
of Jasmin Salehi, a Korean immigrant who became ineligible for 
permanent residency after her husband was murdered at a Denny's in 
Reseda, California, where he worked as a manager.
  In all of these cases, a family's grief was compounded by the 
prospect of the deportation of a family member, who had met all the 
requirements for a green card. This legislation is an efficient way to 
alleviate the need for private legislation under these circumstances by 
making the law more just for those who have chosen to become immigrants 
in our country through the legal process.
  We introduce the ``Family Immigration Act of 2001,'' in the hopes 
that it will go further to alleviate some of hardships families face 
when confronted by the untimely death of a sponsor. Similar legislation 
has gained bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. I look 
forward to working with my colleagues to move it quickly through the 
  I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the 
  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                S. 1167

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Family Sponsor Immigration 
     Act of 2001''.

                   SPONSOR HAS DIED.

       (a) Permitting Substitution of Alternative Close Family 
     Sponsor in Case of Death of Petitioner.--
       (1) Recognition of alternative sponsor.--Section 213A(f)(5) 
     of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1183a(f)(5)) 
     is amended to read as follows:
       ``(5) Non-petitioning cases.--Such term also includes an 
     individual who does not meet the requirement of paragraph 
     (1)(D) but who--
       ``(A) accepts joint and several liability with a 
     petitioning sponsor under paragraph (2) or relative of an 
     employment-based immigrant under paragraph (4) and who 
     demonstrates (as provided under paragraph (6)) the means to 
     maintain an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of 
     the Federal poverty line; or
       ``(B) is a spouse, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, 
     sibling, child (if at least 18 years of age), son, daughter, 
     son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, 
     grandparent, or grandchild of a sponsored alien or a legal 
     guardian of a sponsored alien, meets the requirements of 
     paragraph (1) (other than subparagraph (D)), and executes an 
     affidavit of support with respect to such alien in a case in 
       ``(i) the individual petitioning under section 204 for the 
     classification of such alien died after the approval of such 
     petition; and
       ``(ii) the Attorney General has determined for humanitarian 
     reasons that revocation of such petition under section 205 
     would be inappropriate.''.
       (2) Conforming amendment permitting substitution.--Section 
     212(a)(4)(C)(ii) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(4)(C)(ii)) is 
     amended by striking ``(including any additional sponsor 
     required under section 213A(f))'' and inserting ``(and any 
     additional sponsor required under section 213A(f) or any 
     alternative sponsor permitted under paragraph (5)(B) of such 
       (3) Additional conforming amendments.--Section 213A(f) of 
     such Act (8 U.S.C. 1183a(f)) is amended, in each of 
     paragraphs (2) and (4)(B)(ii), by striking ``(5).'' and 
     inserting ``(5)(A).''.
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a) 
     shall apply with respect to deaths occurring before, on, or 
     after the date of the enactment of this Act, except that, in 
     the case of a death occurring before such date, such 
     amendments shall apply only if--
       (1) the sponsored alien--
       (A) requests the Attorney General to reinstate the 
     classification petition that was filed with respect to the 
     alien by the deceased and approved under section 204 of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1154) before such 
     death; and
       (B) demonstrates that he or she is able to satisfy the 
     requirement of section 212(a)(4)(C)(ii) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1182(a)(4)(C)(ii)) by reason of such amendments; and
       (2) the Attorney General reinstates such petition after 
     making the determination described in section 
     213A(f)(5)(B)(ii) of such Act (as amended by such 


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