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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: July 23, 2001 (House)]
[Page H4395-H4399]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr23jy01-55]                         
 
                 FAMILY SPONSOR IMMIGRATION ACT OF 2001

  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 1892) to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act 
to provide for the acceptance of an affidavit of support from another 
eligible sponsor if the original sponsor has died and the Attorney 
General has determined for humanitarian reasons that the original 
sponsor's classification petition should not be revoked, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 1892

       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 ``Family Sponsor Immigration 
     Act of 2001''.

     SEC. 2. SUBSTITUTION OF ALTERNATIVE SPONSOR IF ORIGINAL 
                   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, 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 which--
       ``(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 
     section)''.
       (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 subsection 
     (a)(1) of this Act).

  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. Madam 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. 1892, as amended.
  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 
consume.
  Madam Speaker, H.R. 1892, the Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001, 
was introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. Calvert) and 
amended in the Committee on the Judiciary by our other colleague, the 
gentleman from California (Mr. Issa). I want to thank both of them for 
bringing to our attention an unintended quirk in the Immigration and 
Nationality Act that needlessly keeps families separated. I want to 
thank them for developing this bill, which brings families back 
together.
  Each year the United States provides hundreds of thousands of 
immigrant visas for spouses and other family members of U.S. citizens 
and permanent residents. Tragically, each year a number of these U.S. 
citizens and permanent residents petitioning for their family members 
will die before the immigration process is complete. Generally, INS 
regulations provide for the automatic revocation of a petition when the 
petitioner dies. The consequences are severe for a beneficiary when his 
or her petitioner dies before the beneficiary has adjusted status or 
received an immigrant visa.

                              {time}  1500

  If no other relative can qualify as a petitioner, then the 
beneficiary would lose an opportunity to become a permanent resident.
  For instance, if a petition is revoked because a widowed citizen's 
father dies after petitioning for an adult unmarried daughter, the 
daughter would have no living mother to file a new petition. If another 
relative can file an immigrant visa petition for the beneficiary, the 
beneficiary would still go to the end of the line if the visa category 
were numerically limited.
  For instance, if the daughter's mother was alive, she could file a 
new first-family preference petition. However, the daughter would lose 
the priority date, based upon the time her father's petition had been 
filed with the INS and would receive a later priority date based upon 
the filing date of her mother's petition. Given that first-family 
preference visas are now available to beneficiaries from Mexico with 
priority dates from April, 1994, and are available to those from the 
Philippines with priority dates from May, 1988, this can result in a 
significant additional delay before a visa is available.
  Because of the severe consequences of the revocation of a visa 
petition, INS regulations do allow the Attorney General, in his or her 
discretion, to determine that, for humanitarian reasons, revocation 
would be inappropriate and thus complete the unification of a family.
  However, there is a complication. The Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 requires that when a family member 
petitions for a relative to receive an immigrant visa, that visa can 
only be granted if the petitioner signs a legally binding affidavit of 
support promising to provide for the support of the immigrant. If the 
petitioner has died, obviously he or she cannot sign that affidavit. 
Thus, even in cases where the Attorney General feels a humanitarian 
waiver of the revocation of the visa petition is warranted, under 
current law a permanent resident visa cannot be granted because the 
affidavit requirement is unfulfilled.
  Madam Speaker, H.R. 1892 solves this dilemma. It simply provides that 
in cases where the petitioner has died and the Attorney General has 
determined for humanitarian reasons that revocation of the petition 
would be inappropriate, a close family member other than the petitioner 
would be allowed to sign the necessary affidavit of support. Eligible 
family members of beneficiaries would include spouses, parents, 
grandparents, mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, siblings, adult sons 
and daughters, adult sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, and 
grandchildren. Legal guardians would also be eligible.

[[Page H4396]]

  In order to sign an affidavit of support, the individual would need 
to meet the general eligibility requirements needed to be an immigrant 
sponsor. Thus, he or she would need to, first, be a citizen or national 
of the United States or an alien who is lawfully admitted to the United 
States for permanent residence; second, be at least 18 years of age; 
third, be domiciled in a State, the District of Columbia, or any 
territory or possession of the United States; and, fourth, demonstrate 
the means to maintain an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of 
the Federal poverty line.
  Madam Speaker, H.R. 1892 is a humanitarian and pro-family piece of 
legislation. I would urge my colleagues to support this bill.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 1892, and I believe that it is 
a legislative initiative that speaks to the cornerstone of immigration 
policy in this Nation: family reunification.
  The Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001 is a very important 
immigration bill. With bipartisan support, we are correcting a glitch 
in the immigration law. As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on 
Immigration and Claims of the House Committee on the Judiciary, I was 
pleased to work with the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the 
chairman of the subcommittee, on this legislation, along with the 
original sponsors of this legislation as well, and I thank them for 
their service and leadership.
  Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that the same 
person that petitions for the admission of an immigrant must be the 
same person who signs the affidavit of support: the sponsor, that 
person is called. So, if the sponsor dies, current law does not allow 
someone else to sign the affidavit of support, although they are a 
legitimate person, although there is no attempt to commit fraud, and 
that person is unable to adjust his or her status to receive an 
immigrant visa, even though they have been waiting in a line in a very 
procedurally correct manner and adhering to the laws of our Nation. 
Such consequences of the law toward a beneficiary when his or her 
petitioner dies before the beneficiary has a chance to adjust status or 
receive an immigrant visa has been and continues to be too harsh.
  H.R. 1892 will amended the Immigration Nationality Act to allow an 
alternative sponsor, a close family member other than the petitioner, 
as a substitute if the original sponsor of the affidavit of support has 
died, assuming all other requirements are met.
  Additionally, I am very pleased that we were able to work out an 
agreement that further allows alternative sponsors to be 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, grandparent 
or grandchild of a sponsored alien or legal guardians of a sponsored 
alien, all with the idea of reunifying a family.
  This bill, H.R. 1892, which has bipartisan support, is important 
because in the event of the death of the sponsor the beneficiary's 
application will now be able to have someone else sign the affidavit of 
support and the beneficiary's application for permanent residency can 
move forward without losing the beneficiary's priority date, in 
essence, not having them go to the back of the line and, therefore, 
delaying them being reunited with their family.
  Madam Speaker, I believe this is an important initiative that we have 
done in a bipartisan way, and I ask my colleagues to support this 
legislation.
  Madam Speaker, H.R. 1892, the Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001 
is a very important immigration bill. With bipartisan support we are 
correcting a glitch in the current immigration law.
  Currently, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires that the same 
person that petitions for the admission of an immigrant must be the 
same person who signs the affidavit of support--the sponsor. So if the 
sponsor dies, current law does not allow someone else to sign the 
affidavit of support and that person is unable to adjust his or her 
status or receive an immigrant visa. Such consequences of the law 
toward a beneficiary when his or her petitioner dies before the 
beneficiary has a chance to adjust status or receive an immigrant visa 
are too harsh.
  H.R. 1892 will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow an 
alternative sponsor--a close family member other than the petitioner--
as a substitute if the original sponsor of the affidavit of support has 
died, assuming all other requirements are met.
  H.R. 1892 allows the alternative sponsors to be a: spouse, parent, 
mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, or 
grandchild of a sponsored alien or a legal guardian of a sponsored 
alien.
  This bill, H.R. 1892, which has bipartisan support, is important 
because in the event of the death of the sponsor, the beneficiary's 
application will now be able to have someone else sign the affidavit of 
support and the beneficiary's application for permanent residency can 
move forward without losing the beneficiary's priority date.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Calvert), the author of the bill.
  Mr. CALVERT. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me 
this time.
  In January of this year, my office received a letter from a 
constituent that hit a roadblock in his attempt to be obtain U.S. 
citizenship. His father, who petitioned for my constituent's permanent 
U.S. residence over 8 years ago, suddenly passed away. He had long ago 
filled out the necessary paperwork and paid the required $1,000 fee.
  Last December, my constituent went for his interview with the INS. 
His paperwork was in order. He was asked if he had ever been in trouble 
with the law or accepted government assistance. The constituent, who 
had worked as a manager at a gas station the past 6 years and files his 
taxes every year, said no. Everything seemed fine. But a week later a 
letter from the INS came, notifying him that his permanent residence 
was denied because his petitioner, his father, was dead. Under current 
law, he has to go back to the end of the line and begin the 8 to 10 
year process all over again.
  This roadblock only discourages legal immigration. As millions of 
undocumented immigrants enter this country illegally, law-abiding 
immigrants like my constituent find that their first interaction with 
the United States Government is frustrating and confusing. The news of 
this process surely reaches back to the immigrant's home country. Some 
might use situations like this as an excuse to forgo the legal process 
and instead become illegal aliens. This is no way to promote legal 
immigration.
  Madam Speaker, H.R. 1892 would cut down this roadblock in the 
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996. Currently, if applicant's 
petitioner dies after an application is accepted by the INS, the 
applicant is automatically returned to the beginning of the entire 
nationalization process, a 7 to 8 year process. They cannot substitute 
their financial sponsor with another qualified relative.
  This legislation would allow for a parent, spouse, son, daughter, 
son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, so 
long as they qualify, to take up the role of financial sponsor from a 
deceased sponsor, without having an interruption in the nationalization 
process for the applicant.
  It is important to note that this legislation will not allow 
unqualified applicants to be adjusted or unqualified sponsors to take 
up sponsorship. Nor will this legislation have any impact on the number 
of immigrants entering the process. This legislation only affects 
applicants already in the adjustment process. This bill is 
noncontroversial, a good fix to this infrequent but substantial 
problem. It passed the full Committee on the Judiciary by a voice vote.
  On July 11, 2001, the President participated in a swearing-in of 
immigrants at Ellis Island and announced his support for this measure. 
The President said, ``If a child's parent and financial sponsor should 
pass away, we should permit the other parent to take over as sponsor.''
  The President's recognition that we are a nation of immigrants and 
his concern that the naturalization process has become unwieldy for 
legal immigrants serves to quickly right this present injustice. More 
importantly, his support for such legislation moves us closer to 
getting this bill signed into

[[Page H4397]]

law. This legislation would correct an injustice suffered by too many 
immigrants that have chosen to adjust their immigration status through 
the legal process. Immigrants that apply for this status are 
financially secure and contributors to our society, not burdens on it. 
These are the immigration cases that should be promoted, not further 
frustrated.
  Madam Speaker, I would like to thank people who have helped on this 
bill, including the gentleman from California (Mr. Issa) for all his 
work on the Committee on the Judiciary; the gentlewoman from California 
(Ms. Lofgren) and the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Cannon) who were very 
active in helping us perfect this legislation; and certainly the 
gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), the chairman of the full 
committee; and the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the 
chairman of the subcommittee; and the ranking members who have worked 
diligently on working this bill through the entire committee.
  Finally, I would like to thank the Khan family who brought this issue 
to my attention. I look forward to the day when the Khan brothers will 
become U.S. citizens. These are hard-working individuals who will only 
be an asset to our community and to our country. I am proud to be able 
to help them achieve that dream sooner rather than later.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I am delighted to yield 3 
minutes to the distinguished gentlewoman from California (Ms. Woolsey), 
the chair of the Democratic Caucus Task Force on Children.
  (Ms. WOOLSEY asked and was given permission to revise and extend her 
remarks.)
  Ms. WOOLSEY. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Family 
Immigration Sponsor Act. In fact, a family in my district with a tragic 
story has become a well-known example of exactly why this bill is 
necessary.
  Mrs. Zhenfu Ge, a 73-year-old Chinese national, came to the United 
States in 1998 to help care for her dying daughter and her daughter's 
two children. Her daughter, my constituent, Yanyu Wong, requested that 
her mother be able to stay in America to take care of her grandchildren 
after the mother died. Following INS rules, my constituent immediately 
submitted the appropriate paperwork to sponsor her mother's petition 
for a green card so she could stay in the United States. But, 
tragically, on April 15 of this year, my constituent lost her life to 
cancer. This was only 11 days before the INS was scheduled to grant 
Mrs. Ge permanent resident status.
  In a desperate attempt to keep his mother-in-law in the country, my 
constituent's husband petitioned to be Mrs. Ge's new sponsor. However, 
INS law mandates the sponsor be an adult blood relative. Without an 
adult blood relative left alive to sponsor her, Mrs. Ge must go back to 
China and restart the process. Realizing the devastating results of 
these circumstances, I introduced H.R. 2011, a private bill to allow 
Mrs. Ge to remain legally in the United States while she completes the 
process for legal status.
  Forcing Mrs. Ge to abandon her family during this time would only add 
to the tragedy her 3-year-old granddaughter and 12-year-old grandson 
were already experiencing. Allowing Mrs. Ge to stay in the country 
would give the children a living link to their mother and to their 
mother's culture, something they would be denied forever if their 
grandmother is deported.
  With the passage of the Family Immigration Sponsor Act, authored by 
the gentleman from California (Mr. Calvert), Mrs. Ge can stay in 
America and take care of her daughter's children while she completes 
the immigration process. Then she can keep her promise to her daughter.
  Madam Speaker, I strongly urge my colleagues to vote for the Family 
Immigration Sponsor Act to help relieve some of the pain that families 
like Mrs. Ge's have endured.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Issa).
  (Mr. ISSA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)

                              {time}  1515

  Madam Speaker, I, too, rise in support of H.R. 1892. I, too, have at 
least one of my constituents who has the same problem. Myrna Gabiola 
has tried, so far in vain, to take over the sponsorship of her two 
brothers.
  But this is not to say that there are not one, two, or three thousand 
separate occurrences right now in America. This, like many of the 
problems dealt with her in the House, needs in fact good legislation so 
that they do not fall to the desk of individual Congressmen and 
Congresswomen in the future.
  Good government is dependent upon good and consistent rules of the 
road that allow for the immigration process to be done under our laws, 
but under common sense. I believe that the reason this was such a 
bipartisan effort, and the reason that I am very hopeful it will pass 
here today, is that we took the time to realize that no organization, 
except perhaps a Federal Government, would in fact allow the loss of a 
loved one to turn into a ``go back to go and start over.''
  I believe that this type of reform, and others to come on a 
bipartisan basis, are the best way to signal to the people of the 
world, the tens or hundreds of millions who would like to come here, 
that they are better off getting in line, playing by the rules, waiting 
their turn, than coming here illegally.
  These kinds of reforms make the process fairer and more likely to be 
obeyed by those who wish to come to our country. Most of all, it is 
fairer for those citizens of our country who do in fact want to be 
repatriated with their loved ones from abroad.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I am delighted to yield 3 
minutes to the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink), who has been a 
leader on family unification and providing for opportunities for 
immigrants to access legalization.
  (Mrs. MINK of Hawaii asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend her remarks, and include extraneous material.)
  Mrs. MINK of Hawaii. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
yielding time to me.
  Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the passage of H.R. 1892, 
the Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001.
  I wish to thank the Committee on the Judiciary for reporting this 
important bill, especially the gentleman from Wisconsin (Chairman 
Sensenbrenner) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), and 
acknowledge the sterling leadership of the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Calvert) for introducing this bill, which will help many grieving 
families where the petitioners die before the family member is able to 
gain immigration status.
  I have had several of these cases over the years, and have had to 
transmit the sad news to the families who have been waiting sometimes 
more than 10 years before the parent petitioner died, and the petition 
was then, upon his death, deemed expired also.
  They were told that their only option was to have another family 
member file a new petition and perhaps wait another 10 years. This is a 
tearful message to transmit to any loved one.
  Under current law, death of the parent petitioner forfeits the 
priority date established by the deceased parent. The new petition 
would have a new priority date, creating a tragic outcome for family 
members who have already waited more than 10 years for their number to 
be called.
  This bill provides a compassionate outcome. The current law allows 
the Attorney General to offer a humanitarian reprieve, but he could not 
because the affidavit of support was deemed void upon the death of the 
petitioner. This bill allows the voided affidavit of support of the 
deceased to be substituted by another affidavit submitted by a close 
family member. It is a commonsense kind of solution to a very tragic 
personal problem.
  This bill offers an avenue of relief for many grieving families who 
continue their petitions for loved ones, even under the devastating 
conditions today that they have to wait another 10 years. I hope that 
this bill will pass and will become law, and will provide the kind of 
relief that these families have been waiting so long to have.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to yield 2 
minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Honda), who 
is

[[Page H4398]]

well aware of these issues. Having visited his district, I know of his 
leadership on the issues of family reunification.
  Mr. HONDA. Madam Speaker, I just want to enter into the Congressional 
Record my thanks for the leadership of the gentleman from California 
(Mr. Calvert), the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, the 
gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), and the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee).
  The reason I rise on this issue, Madam Speaker, is because just this 
past week I was visited by a constituent who is a Russian immigrant. He 
came to this country as a refugee. He was trying to reunite his family, 
his adult son and his family, and it turns out that he had a change of 
categories in Russia. Because of that, he lost his standing as a 
refugee and became an immigrant applicant. That made him go to the end 
of the line.
  The reason the father came to me is because he exhausted all his 
administrative remedy and all he had left was hope, the hope that he 
may live long enough that his son may be with him in this country as a 
legal immigrant. But then he would have to wait 4 to 6 years. He is an 
elderly person.
  He asked me if there was any way to change this ruling so that he 
would be allowed to see his son who has been in Russia for all these 
years. I had no answer for him because the rules are the rules. He 
wanted to follow them, but he wonders if there is a way we could 
shorten that.
  This bill may not give him much hope in the sense that he may not 
live long enough, but it will give him hope that his son may enter into 
this country under his petition currently, and that if he does pass 
away, he will at least have the satisfaction that his petition will 
remain current.
  So to that end, I rise to support this with all my emotion, all my 
support, for this family who face this possibility, and I have seen 
this, but with the hope that the family will ultimately be reunified.
  I thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Calvert) for this bill.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I conclude by simply saying we have heard the number 
of tragic stories that this legislation will cure. Again, I thank the 
author of the legislation, and I appreciate the bipartisan effort in 
bringing it to the floor of the House so we may cure the tragedies that 
have impacted families and reunite the families.
  I ask my colleagues to support H.R. 1892.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Horn).
  Mr. HORN. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 1892, 
the Family Sponsor Immigration Act, and urge my colleagues to vote in 
favor of this worthwhile legislation.
  Madam Speaker, many Americans share a very serious concern that our 
immigration laws can be abused by those who do not respect the legal 
process. However, there are countless individuals who abide by the law 
and deserve a fair and just process. The Family Sponsor Immigration Act 
provides that fairness to those who have followed the letter of the law 
in seeking legal naturalization.
  This important legislation corrects an unfair loophole in the 
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996. Currently, an immigrant 
applying for permanent resident status must have a single family member 
sponsor them. If the sponsor dies before the application is reviewed by 
the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the applicant is forced to 
find another sponsor and begin the naturalization process over again. 
In effect, they are kicked to the back of the line due to the 
circumstances beyond their control.
  The Family Sponsor Immigration Act allows another qualified immediate 
family member to take up the role of financial sponsor from a deceased 
sponsor without interrupting the naturalization process. By correcting 
this injustice suffered by many immigrants who followed the legal 
process, we can ensure fairness in our immigration system.
  This bill in no way allows unqualified applicants or unqualified 
sponsors to abuse the system. There is also no impact on the number of 
immigrants entering the naturalization process. Family unity is a 
priority in our immigration policy, and this bill will promote that 
goal. By providing this commonsense correction to the naturalization 
process, we can ensure fairness and compassion for law-abiding 
individuals.
  I encourage my colleagues to support this effort. Let us support 
vigorously H.R. 1892.
  Mr. LEWIS of California. Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to 
support the passage of the Family Sponsor Immigration Act, introduced 
by my good friend and neighbor, Ken Calvert. This legislation will help 
us avert family tragedies that now happen all too often because of our 
overworked immigration system.
  Jamie Clarino and his family are an example of the terrible results 
of how our system now works. Mr. Clarino, a Filipino native, fought 
with the United States Army in World War II and won his American 
citizenship through his military service.
  In 1988, Mr. Clarino petitioned to sponsor his four adult children 
for legal immigration to the United States. Unfortunately, far more 
people would like to come to our country from the Philippines than we 
can accept in any year. In fact, the backlog is so large from the 
Philippines that it took 12 years--until the year 2000--for Mr. 
Clarino's children to be certified to begin the immigration process.
  Their documents were found in order. They were scheduled for an 
interview with our consular officials in Manila that would complete the 
process. They would soon be able to join their U.S. citizen father in 
his home for the past dozen years.
  And then tragedy struck: Mr. Clarino died just before the interviews 
were to take place. He could not sign the affidavit of support required 
at the time of the interviews. And under our current law, these 
children of this man who fought for America in World War II must now 
begin the process all over again with a new sponsor.
  Without this legislation, the Clarino family will be forced to wait 
perhaps a dozen more years for the chance to immigrate. As you can 
imagine, this means the dream of their father--that his family come to 
his adopted homeland--will probably never become reality. A sister who 
is a lawful permanent resident, who could easily take over as sponsor 
for her siblings, will probably never get the chance.
  Madam Speaker, I believe we must stop our system from adding to the 
tragedy of families like the Clarinos, who lose a loved one and at the 
same time have their hopes of coming to America dashed. My friend Ken 
Calvert's bill will allow these families to continue their quest under 
a new sponsor, without losing their place in line. It does not grant 
special favors; it merely closes a loophole to help those families who 
are playing by the rules to gain legal immigration to our nation.
  I strongly support H.R. 1892 and urge its passage.
  Mr. ISSA. Madam Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 1892, the 
``Family Sponsor Immigration Act of 2001.'' I thank Congressman Ken 
Calvert, author of this bill, Chairman Sensenbrenner, Chairman Gekas, 
and the Immigration Subcommittee staff for their leadership and 
assistance on this bill. This bill will correct the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (INA) to allow another family member to become a 
sponsor of an applicant by signing an affidavit of support if the 
original sponsor has died.
  Current INS regulation, set up by the Illegal Immigration Reform and 
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), allows sponsors to sign 
an affidavit of support to transfer sponsorship of an applicant. 
Unfortunately, if a sponsor dies without signing an affidavit of 
support, the applicant must start the long process over again. Due to 
the immense number of applicants filing for permanent residency, the 
application process for the INS can take more than a decade.
  I first became aware of this problem in the IIRAIRA of 1996 when my 
district office told me of a constituent, Myrna Gabiola, who wanted to 
sponsor her two brothers after her father passed away. The family was 
so focused on the health of the father that they did not realize that 
the father had to sign an affidavit of support allowing another family 
member to take over the application while he was still alive. There was 
no indication of a problem until Renan and Ben Patao had interviews and 
did not have the required affidavit of support. They were subsequently 
denied because their father had passed away before the interviews took 
place.
  The Gabiola family waited over sixteen years to be granted an 
interview for permanent residency but were then sent to the back of the 
line to begin the process over again. I urged my staff to explore every 
possible avenue to assist Ms. Gabiola through the administrative 
process, but upon further exploration,

[[Page H4399]]

there was none. I contemplated a private bill, but after discussing the 
possibilities with the Immigration Subcommittee staff for the Judiciary 
Committee, they revealed that Congressman Ken Calvert had draft 
legislation to correct a similar situation. After talking with 
Congressman Calvert, he explained that he had a constituent in a 
similar situation and wanted to bring forth legislation as soon as 
possible.
  After being introduced on May 17th of this year, this bill passed the 
Judiciary Committee's Immigration subcommittee and the full committee 
by voice vote. H.R. 1892 has received tremendous bi-partisan support 
from Members and the INS, and is supported by the White House. This 
bill will keep families together and help avoid the possibility of 
having two tragedies stemming from one unfortunate event.
  Again, I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation.
  Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Madam Speaker, I have no further requests for 
time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. 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. 1892, 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.
  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 
postponed.
                          ____________________



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