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

[Congressional Record: December 5, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S12448-S12456]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr05de01-174]                         

          STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
      
      By Mr. CORZINE (for himself and Mr. Torricelli):
  S. 1774. A bill to accord honorary citizenship to the alien victims 
of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States and 
to provide for the granting of citizenship to the alien spouses and 
children of certain victims of such attacks; to the Committee on the 
Judiciary.
  Mr. CORZINE. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce legislation, 
the Terrorist Victim Citizenship Relief Act, that would quickly provide 
citizenship relief to hundreds of families adversely affected by the 
attacks of September 11, 2001.
  Today I am meeting with several of the families of the victims of the 
September 11 terrorist attacks to discuss crucial legislation that 
would provide them with tax relief in the wake of a national calamity. 
They are dealing with a personal anguish that many of us can only 
imagine. It is critical that the House of Representatives move swiftly 
to pass the tax relief legislation that has already passed the Senate, 
by unanimous consent, I might add. But there is more that Congress must 
do to account for the shocking and unanticipated failure of the 
existing legal framework in the aftermath of September 11. I believe 
that the Terrorist Victim Citizenship Relief Act is an important part 
of this vitally necessary overhaul.
  When American citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants perished in 
the cowardly terrorist acts of September 11, the immigration status of 
hundreds of families was thrown into turmoil. The attacks were on 
American soil on a major American institution and directed at the 
United States. Yet American citizens were not the only victims. 
Hundreds of temporary workers and immigrants died shoulder-to-shoulder 
with thousands of Americans. Their deaths should be acknowledged and 
their families should be honored.
  My legislation would bestow honorary citizenship on legal immigrants 
and non-immigrants who died in the disaster. This would honor their 
spirit and their tremendous sacrifice. Perhaps more important, the bill 
would offer citizenship to surviving spouses and children, subject to a 
background investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In the 
spirit of fairness and unity, it is appropriate and responsible to 
offer the privilege of citizenship to families who lost so much because 
of this attack on the United States.
  More than 3,000 people lost their lives when four planes crashed on 
that fateful September morning. Bodies are still being uncovered, and 
the death count has been revised several times. Nationals from some 86 
countries perished in the attack, including visitors, non-immigrant 
workers, and legal permanent residents.
  America was not the only country that suffered losses. There was good 
reason the complex was called the World Trade Center. In the September 
11 attacks, England lost 75 people, with 60 other British nationals 
unaccounted for. India lost more than 100. Germany has 31 confirmed 
casualties. Mexico has 19. Colombia has 15. Japan has as many as 21. 
Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Ireland, South Africa, and Pakistan 
all suffered tragic losses. And there were many more. It would be wrong 
to allow the tragic destruction of that fateful day to derail the hopes 
of hundreds of immigrant families to secure a better life for 
themselves and their children in the United States. And we must 
acknowledge the hundreds of families from 86 countries who lost loved 
ones in the attack.
  In New Jersey, there are dozens of poignant stories of immigrant 
families who experienced tragic losses in the World Trade Center 
disaster. These innocent people have lost husbands and wives, sons and 
daughters, sisters and brothers. Their families have been fractured and 
their livelihoods jeopardized. Immigrant families have been forced to 
grapple with a bureaucratic nightmare, wading through the myriad of 
programs available to the families of victims in an effort to keep 
their heads above water. They are often disheartened to learn that, 
although their loved ones died in the same attack, non-citizens are 
ineligible for many of the programs designed to assist the surviving 
families of victims.
  Concerns about immigration status have only added to the tremendous 
burden immigrant families are already confronting. Take the example of 
one New Jersey woman who came to my office seeking assistance. Her 
immigration status was directly dependent on the non-immigrant worker 
status of her husband who died in the attack. Both of her children were 
born in the United States. They are full citizens and are enrolled in 
American schools. She wants to continue to raise her children in the 
United States. However, under the antiterrorism legislation that 
Congress passed this month, this mother of two will be allowed just one 
additional year to sort out her affairs before being forced to uproot 
her children and return to England.
  One year is simply not enough to compensate this innocent woman for 
the loss of her husband. My legislation would grant her citizenship 
immediately, helping her to avoid the burden of removing her children 
from the only country they have ever truly known after having just lost 
their father. Granting her citizenship is the right thing to do.
  But, this woman's story is one of hundreds. My office has received 
numerous inquiries from immigrant families concerned that their 
immigration status has been undermined by the death of a loved one. 
Many families were in the process of preparing the necessary paperwork 
to apply for a change in status, only to have their potential sponsor 
die alongside thousands of others in the World Trade Center attack. 
This legislation would ensure that those families would be allowed to 
become American citizens and avoid undue paperwork and heartache.
  More than two months have passed since the United States was brutally 
attacked. When perpetrating their horrific crime, the terrorists did 
not distinguish between immigrants and American citizens or between 
undocumented workers and legal permanent residents. They were attacking 
the United States, and, in the process, killed thousands, citizens and 
non-citizens alike. In death, citizenship was irrelevant. In death, 
they were all unified.
  The thousands who died did not know it when they went to work, but 
they were at the front lines in the next American war. Their deaths are 
a tragedy that every civilized human being wishes could be reversed. 
Unfortunately, we cannot turn back the clock. However, we can 
acknowledge the tremendous loss of hundreds of immigrant families by 
allowing them to take on the full rights and responsibilities of 
American citizenship.
  I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation, and ask 
unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

[[Page S12456]]

  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                S. 1774

       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 ``Terrorist Victim Citizenship 
     Relief Act''.

     SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

       Congress makes the following findings:
       (1) On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered a 
     series of attacks which led to the deaths of thousands of 
     people.
       (2) Hundreds of foreign nationals perished in the attacks 
     on the American institutions on American soil.
       (3) At that time, the Immigration and Naturalization 
     Service was processing applications for adjustment in 
     immigration status for immigrants who perished in the 
     attacks.
       (4) The immigrant or nonimmigrant status of many immigrant 
     families depends on the sponsorship of those who perished.
       (5) The Immigration and Naturalization Service has publicly 
     stated that it does not intend to take action against foreign 
     nationals whose immigration status is in jeopardy as a direct 
     result of the attack.
       (6) Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization 
     Service James Ziglar stated that ``the Immigration and 
     Naturalization Service will exercise its discretion toward 
     families of victims during this time of mourning and 
     readjustment''.
       (7) Only Congress has the authority to change immigration 
     law to address unanticipated omissions in existing law to 
     account for the unique circumstances surrounding the events 
     of September 11, 2001.

     SEC. 3. DECEASED ALIEN VICTIMS OF TERRORIST ATTACKS DEEMED TO 
                   BE UNITED STATES CITIZENS.

       Notwithstanding title III of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), and except as 
     provided in section 5, each alien who died as a result of a 
     September 11, 2001, terrorist attack against the United 
     States, shall, as of that date, be considered to be an 
     honorary citizen of the United States if the alien held 
     lawful status under the immigration laws of the United States 
     as of that date.

     SEC. 4. CITIZENSHIP ACCORDED TO ALIEN SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF 
                   CERTAIN VICTIMS OF TERRORIST ATTACKS.

       Notwithstanding title III of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.), and except as 
     provided in section 5, an alien spouse or child of an 
     individual who was lawfully present in the United States and 
     who died as a result of a September 11, 2001, terrorist 
     attack against the United States shall be entitled to 
     naturalization as a citizen of the United States upon being 
     administered the oath of renunciation and allegiance in an 
     appropriate ceremony pursuant to section 337 of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act, without regard to the 
     current status of the alien spouse or child under the 
     immigration laws of the United States, if the spouse or child 
     applies to the Attorney General for naturalization not later 
     than two years after the date of enactment of this Act. The 
     Attorney General shall record the date of naturalization of 
     any person granted naturalization under this section as being 
     September 10, 2001.

     SEC. 5. EXCEPTIONS.

       Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, an alien 
     may not be naturalized as a citizen of the United States, or 
     afforded honorary citizenship, under this Act if the alien 
     is--
       (1) inadmissible under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 
     212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or deportable 
     under paragraph (2) or (4) of section 237(a) of that Act, 
     including any terrorist perpetrator of a September 11, 2001, 
     terrorist attack against the United States; or
       (2) a member of the family of a person described in 
     paragraph (1).
                                 ______
                                 
      By Mr. CORZINE (for himself and Mr. Torricelli):
  S. 1776. A bill to provide for the naturalization of Deena Gilbey; to 
the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. CORZINE. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce private 
legislation granting citizenship to Deena Gilbey, a woman profoundly 
affected by the disaster of September 11. Since then, Deena has endured 
a tremendous hardship, a hardship that has been compounded by mounting 
paperwork and an unyielding, dispassionate bureaucratic process. 
Without swift congressional action, Deena, a British national, will be 
forced to uproot her two children and remove them from the only country 
they have ever known just one year from the death of their father.
  Deena Gilbey first moved to the United States in July 1993 when Paul, 
her husband was transferred from London to the New York office of Euro 
Bank. They spent the eight years that followed building a life in the 
United States in suburban Chatham Township. They began to raise two 
children, Max, 7, and Mason, 3, both of whom were born in the United 
States. Although the children are both U.S. citizens, Deena is not and 
was present in the county as part of her husband's H1-B work visa. Both 
Deena and Paul were attempting to become citizens when disaster struck.
  For all Americans, September 11 will be remembered with a deep 
sadness. However, that national anguish took on a personal quality for 
the Gibleys when the family learned that Paul, like so many others, was 
lost beneath the rubble of the World Trade Center.
  With the death of Paul, Deena was forced to face up to the difficult 
realization that her own lawful status in the United States was in 
jeopardy. For the first several weeks after he died, it was unclear 
whether Deena would be allowed to leave the country and spend time with 
family or even work to support her children. The anti-terrorism bill 
that passed the Congress earlier this year was a step in the right 
direction. But it did not go far enough. It did not give Deena and 
Paul's children the stability they deserve.
  The anti-terrorism legislation that passed the Congress earlier this 
year allowed Deena to remain in the United States just one additional 
year to sort out her affairs. She had just one year to wrap up the life 
she and Paul had made together in the United States. She had just one 
year to prepare her children for the trauma of moving to a foreign 
country and of leaving the only country that had ever been home. One 
additional year is simply not enough.
  When Paul died in the attack on the World Trade Center, he died with 
thousands of Americans. Before that, he contributed to the American 
economy for nearly a decade, paying taxes and lending his expertise in 
a highly specialized field. On that fateful day, he embodied the 
American spirit when he assisted coworkers in escaping the fire and 
destruction of ground zero.
  Paul Gilbey was killed in a callous and cowardly attack on America. 
In the aftermath of this tragic event, we have a responsibility to help 
ensure that stability returns to the lives of the children he left 
behind.
  Giving citizenship to Deena Gilbey is our patriotic responsibility. I 
hope this Congress will acknowledge her sacrifice and allow her and her 
children to remain in the United States.
  I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation and ask 
unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the 
Record, as follows:

                                S. 1776

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

     SECTION 1. NATURALIZATION OF DEENA GILBEY.

       Notwithstanding title III of the Immigration and 
     Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) Deena Gilbey shall be 
     entitled to naturalization as a citizen of the United States 
     upon being administered the oath of renunciation and 
     allegiance in an appropriate ceremony pursuant to section 337 
     of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Upon naturalization 
     of Deena Gilbey under this Act, the Attorney General shall 
     record the date of naturalization of Deena Gilbey as being 
     September 10, 2001.

                          ____________________


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