[Congressional Record: September 14, 2001 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
AMENDING IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT TO PROVIDE PERMANENT AUTHORITY
FOR ADMISSION OF ``S'' VISA NONIMMIGRANTS
Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to take from the
Speaker's table the Senate bill (S. 1424) to amend the Immigration and
Nationality Act to provide permanent authority for the admission of
``S'' visa nonimmigrants, and ask for its immediate consideration in
The Clerk read the title of the Senate bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, reserving the right to object,
and I will not object, I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
Gekas) for a comment on the bill.
Mr. GEKAS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me.
Mr. Speaker, this issue comes before us at a very appropriate time.
It was about 2 days ago, maybe 3 days ago now considering the time is
after midnight, authority ran out for our government, through the
Attorney General, to be able to bring in alien witnesses for cases
involving terrorists, of
all things; meaning that when the Attorney General, the Justice
Department, and the intelligence communities of our government were
able to mount a case against terrorists, so appropriate in view of the
events of the past week, that they could bring in people with special
information under what was called the ``S'' visa, a special program to
permit aliens to come in for the specific purpose of providing
information and testifying, as it were, in these cases constructed by
our Justice Department against terrorists.
That authority has run out, and it ran out almost immediately after
the events took place in the Pentagon and in New York. So we have to
reinstate it as fast as possible. That is why we are here tonight,
because now it becomes even more urgent that we be in a position to be
able to authorize the Attorney General to continue building the cases
against these new terrorists now and others yet to come, we hope not,
which we will do everything we can to prevent, but we must reinstate
the authority for these special visas, these ``S'' visas that would
permit this extra arm of law enforcement to work its will.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Continuing to reserve my reservation of
objection, Mr. Speaker, let me thank the gentleman for bringing this
important initiative to the floor of the House tonight, particularly
with the great need that we have. It is obvious that we are in a time
deep of sorrow.
And Congress continues and will continue to seek all possible avenues
which would help provide assistance to the American public in our time
This legislation, as the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), the
chairman has indicated, is appropriate as the U.S. attorney and the
Attorney General are looking to bring solution to the heinous acts that
occurred this week.
The Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 created the ``S'' nonimmigrant
visa classification. We need to restore this visa which expired on
September 12, 2001. Without this legislation, law enforcement will not
be able to bring in foreign nationals who may be able to provide their
needed information. It is well known that the search for the
perpetrators of the heinous acts that occurred on September 11, 2001,
is an international search.
Right now, the number of visas to bring in individuals are limited,
200 visas are for those who provide critical information about crimes.
Fifty visas are specifically devoted to those who can provide critical
information about terrorism. An application for the ``S'' visa must be
made by a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency or by a court,
and once an individual enters on an ``S'' visa, he or she is admitted
for the purpose of cooperating with law enforcement.
This is crucial inasmuch as our Attorney General and all of the
additional officials are looking to bring some resolution, great
resolution to this enormous tragedy. These visas are particularly
necessary because many of these people are in danger in their home
countries after they have cooperated with an investigation or testified
in a criminal proceeding.
There is much that this Nation has to do to, ultimately, in our
future to bring closure to the terrible loss of life. In order to do
this expeditiously, we need the insight of these individuals around the
world who will come and testify and bring evidence so that we can put
an end to these evil acts.
This legislation, I believe, is important, and so the objection that
I have expressed is one that I am willingly now prepared to withdraw
and ask that my colleagues do support this legislation so that we can
move expeditiously in what we need to do to solve the terrible acts
that occurred this week.
Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Shimkus). Is there objection to the
request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania?
There was no objection.
The Clerk read the Senate bill, as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. PERMANENT AUTHORITY FOR ADMISSION OF ``S'' VISA
Section 214(k) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8
U.S.C. 1184(k)) is amended--
(1) by striking (2);
(2) by redesignating paragraphs (3), (4), and (5) as
paragraphs (2), (3), and (4), respectively; and
(3) in paragraph (4)(E) (as redesignated), by striking
``paragraph (4)'' and inserting'' paragraph (3)''.
The Senate bill was ordered to be read a third time, was read the
third time, and passed, and a motion to reconsider was laid on the
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