[Congressional Record: September 6, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
SECTION 245(i) EXTENSION ACT OF 2001
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now
turn to the consideration of calendar No. 73, H.R. 1885, the 245(i)
family unification bill; that the bill be amended
with a substitute amendment, which is a modified text of S. 778 as
reported by the Judiciary Committee, which I send to the desk on behalf
of Senator Lott; that the amendment be agreed to, the bill be read a
third time and passed, the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table,
and that any statements thereon be printed in the Record.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
Amendment No. 1532 was agreed to, as follows:
amendment no. 1532
Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Section 245(i) Extension Act
SEC. 2 EXTENSION OF DEADLINE.
(a) In General.--Section 245(i)(1) of the Immigration and
Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255(i)(1)) is amended--
(1) in subparagraph (B)--
(A) in clause (i), by striking ``on or before April 20,
2001; or'' and inserting ``on or before the earlier of April
30, 2002, and the date that is 120 days after the date on
which the Attorney General first promulgates final or interim
final regulations to carry out the Section 245(i) Extension
Act of 2001; or''; and
(B) in clause (ii), by striking ``on or before such date;
and'' and inserting ``on or before the earlier date described
in clause (i);'';
(2) in subparagraph (C), by adding ``and'' at the end; and
(3) by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following:
``(D) who, in the case of a beneficiary of a petition for
classification, or an application for labor certification,
described in subparagraph (B) that was filed after April 30,
2001, demonstrates that the familial relationship existed
before August 15, 2001, or the application for labor
certification that is the basis of such petition for
classification was filed before August 15, 2001;''.
(b) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsection (a)
shall take effect as if included in the enactment of the
Legal Immigration Family Equity Act (114 Stat. 2762A-345), as
enacted into law by section 1(a)(2) of Public Law 106-553.
The bill (H.R. 1885), as amended, was read the third time and passed.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I am so pleased tonight we were able to
pass a measure that honors our heritage as a nation of immigrants, and
provides American and immigrant families some relief from our outdated
Today, immigrants who don't have the proper documentation to stay in
the United States, but do have the legal right to become permanent
residents because they are the spouses of US citizens can be stuck in a
horrible catch-22 situation. If they return to their home country to
get the immigrant visa to which they are entitled, they can be barred
from re-entering the United States for up to 10 years.
Take the example of a woman named Norma. Norma entered the U.S. from
Mexico, and settled in North Carolina. She then married a U.S. citizen.
They have been married over two years, have a child, are expecting
another this fall, and recently bought a new home for their growing
family. Norma and her husband are torn on what to do about her
immigration status. As the wife of a citizen, she qualifies for an
immigrant visa. However, if she returns to Mexico to obtain her visa,
she would be barred from re-entering the U.S. for 10 years. Norma
doesn't want to leave her husband, her children, or her home for 10
years--and she shouldn't have to.
This action allows Norma's family--and hundreds of thousands of other
families--to stay together. S. 778, introduced by Senators Hagel and
Kennedy, extends the period of time for eligible people to file their
petitions for relief with the Immigration and Naturalization Service
and the Department of Labor for one year.
By doing that, S. 778 would provide real and immediate relief for
hundreds of thousands of eligible immigrants.
With 30 Republican and Democratic cosponsors, this bill enjoyed broad
It passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee mark up by a
unanimous voice vote.
To satisfy critics, Senators Hagel and Kennedy compromised by
accepting language that immigrants applying under the new 245(i)
extension must show that their family or employment relationship
existed prior to the enactment of the bill.
I have talked to the President about this issue on more than one
occasion, and I raised it again with him this week at the White House.
He assured me he shares my concern that we need to take action on this
Since April 30th of this year, when Section 245(i) last expired,
immigrants have been waiting in limbo.
INS statistics show that approximately seventy-five percent of the
immigrants who apply for 245(i) relief are the spouses and children of
U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Eight out of 10 legal immigrants come to the United States to join a
family member. What message are we sending if our policies pry families
President Vicente Fox's historic visit has helped to focus attention
on the need to re-craft our immigration policies in ways that better
reflect our core values of family unity, fundamental fairness and
Passing the Section 245(i) Extension Act of 2001 sends a clear
message that we are truly committed to providing real immigration
The Senate has taken the first step. I hope the House will soon
follow. Let's put this bill on President Bush's desk, and let's do it
this week. Norma's family, and thousands of families just like hers,
are looking to us. Let's not let them down.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, last year's Legal Immigration Family
Equity Act extended the deadline under section 245(i) of the
immigration laws to April 30, 2001--a window of just 4 months--to
enable persons who are eligible for green cards to adjust their status
in the United States, rather than have to return to their country of
origin to do so. Clearly this new deadline has proved to be inadequate.
The short extension created an overwhelming demand for information and
services, and many qualified persons did not have enough time to file
To address this urgent problem, Senator Hagel and I introduced new
legislation on April 26, a few days before the April 30 deadline.
Congress should have acted long before now to extend the deadline, but
all of us who support an extension are pleased that the Senate is
finally acting on this bill. I know many of my colleagues on both sides
of the aisle share my desire to move this bill quickly because it
affects so many people. It is a humanitarian measure that has strong
bipartisan support. It also has the support of the President.
This bill will provide real and immediate relief to hundreds of
thousands of immigrants. INS data show that approximately 75 percent of
the immigrants who apply for this relief are the spouses and children
of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. These are families who have
made lasting contributions to our communities and contributed to the
economic vitality of our nation. This bill does not propose substantial
new relief, but only a continuation of the prior relief. Last year's
temporary extension to April 30, 2001 was designed to benefit
immigrants who were in the country by December 21, 2000. This bill will
extend the deadline to provide this group of immigrants with more time
to file their petitions.
I know that some of my colleagues support the extension, but had
concerns with our bill. We worked with them to develop an acceptable
compromise. Our bill, with an amendment offered by Senator Kyl reflects
our compromise. This compromise requires immigrants benefitting from
the extension to show that their family or employment relationship
existed on or before August 15, 2001. They will have until April 30,
2002 or 4 months from the issuance of regulations to file their
applications with the INS.
Some critics are concerned about fraudulent marriages. But the INS,
and not Congress, is in the best position to determine whether a case
is fraudulent. The INS closely scrutinizes applications based on recent
marriages. Under the current law, the INS conducts extensive interviews
before deciding these cases, often separately questioning the couples.
Anyone who has been married less than 2 years when their application is
approved is required to attend a second INS interview 2 years later, in
which INS again reviews the case to determine whether there is a bona
fide marriage. Only after the second interview will a recently married
immigrant receive a permanent green card.
In INS determines that an individual has committed marriage fraud,
that person is permanently barred from receiving a green card and can
be criminally prosecuted. Many of us feel that this new restriction is
unnecessary, and will lead to needless confusion, delay and hardship.
But in the spirit of compromise, we accepted this amendment.
I am pleased that we are moving this bill forward, as this
legislation will keep immigrant families together. We cannot continue
to delay; otherwise, the purpose of this legislation--to prevent the
separation of immigrant families--will be defeated. This measure is of
critical importance to Mexican President Vicente Fox, who is in
Washington for an historic visit. Our two countries are negotiating
important immigration policies which will profoundly affect and benefit
our peoples and our economies. Extension of section 245(i) is an
immediate and important first step in these negotiations.
Finally, if we are truly to live up to our history and heritage as a
nation of immigrants, we must also address the pressing needs of
uniting other families separated by our current immigration laws, and
meeting the needs of our labor market. I look forward to working with
my colleagues to meet these great challenges, and am pleased that the
Senate has approved this bill as a downpayment on the reforms that are
so long overdue.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, this legislation accomplishes a goal
supported by President Bush and a bipartisan coalition of Senators--
making it easier for people who are eligible to become legal permanent
residents to apply for their green cards without leaving the United
States. There could not be a more opportune time to pass this bill than
during the visit of President Vicente Fox to our nation, and I applaud
the Majority Leader for making passage today possible. I hope that the
approval of this bill serves as a signal of the Congress' willingness
to work with the Mexican Government to achieve our common goals, and to
maintain fair immigration policies.
I was pleased to schedule this bill for a markup as soon as I became
Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Although I would have preferred
that the Committee report the bill as it was introduced, I am glad that
a compromise was reached that allowed the bill to receive the
Committee's support and make it to the floor of the Senate.
This bill extends section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act, which expired on April 30, 2001. Section 245(i) allows foreign-
born people who are present in the United States and eligible for legal
permanent residency to apply for that status from within the country
instead of having to return to their nation of origin to apply. We
reauthorized section 245(i) last year, but only for a four-month
period. Many eligible immigrants were unable to find attorneys and
submit applications during that brief period.
There are at least three good reasons to extend 245(i). First, it
allows families to stay together in the United States instead of
forcing family members to return to their native countries to apply for
their green cards. Second, because immigrants can also qualify to
become legal permanent residents based on an employment relationship,
extending 245(i) will allow businesses to retain vital employees.
Third, because immigrants have to pay a $1000 fee to apply under
245(i), this program raises millions of dollars for the Federal
Senators Kennedy and Hagel deserve great credit for their sponsorship
of and support for this bill. I am pleased that the Senate has approved
this bipartisan bill to keep families together, and I urge the House to
follow the Senate's lead.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, let me briefly say that this is extremely
important. With President Fox in the country, this sends a message to
him that we really are trying to work toward making things easier in
relations between the United States and Mexico. But this has wide
application to places other than Mexico. It is important legislation.
It is something we worked on very hard. We almost got it done toward
the end of last year. It is now completed.
We hope the House will expeditiously move forward on this matter. The
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has been involved in this,
Representative Sensenbrenner. We are grateful for everyone's
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