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[Congressional Record: March 7, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E296]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                         HON. JOHN CONYERS, JR.

                              of michigan

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, March 7, 2002

  Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the ``Restoration 
of Fairness in Immigration Law Act of 2000,'' a bipartisan bill that is 
supported by the leaders of the Congressional Hispanic, Black and Asian 
Pacific Caucuses as well as over 60 immigration advocacy groups.
  Since this nation's founding, more than 55 million immigrants from 
every continent have settled in the United States. Immigrants work hard 
to make ends meet and pay taxes every day. They have lived in this 
country for decades, married U.S. citizens, and raised their U.S.-
citizen children. Laws that single these people out for no other reason 
than their status as immigrants violate their fundamental right to fair 
  Yet, for too many years, Congress has witnessed a wave of anti-
immigrant legislation, playing on our worst fears and prejudices. Since 
1994, we have considered proposals to ban birthright citizenship, ban 
bilingual ballots, and slash family and employment based immigration, 
as well as to limit the number of asylees and refugees. In 1996 we 
passed laws denying legal residents the right to public benefits and 
denying immigrants a range of due process and fairness protections.
  Recently we have seen the tragedy of September 11th used as an excuse 
for even more assaults on the rights of immigrants. The Justice 
Department is now holding deportation hearings in secret and detaining 
immigrants even after they are ordered released. The Attorney General 
is reducing both the independence and number of judges that handle the 
appeals of immigration cases. We are fending off legislation almost 
daily intended to reduce if not eliminate immigration to this country.
  Those who urge us to restrict the due process rights of immigrants 
forget the reason these rights were established in the first place. We 
grant due process rights to citizens and non-citizens alike; not out of 
some soft-hearted sentimentality, but because we believe that these 
rights form an important cornerstone to maintaining civilized society.
  The ``Restoration of Fairness in Immigration Act of 2002'' furthers 
this proud legacy by restoring our nation's longstanding compassion for 
individuals seeking to build a better life and reunite with their 
  The bill restores fairness to the immigration process by making sure 
that each person has a chance to have their case heard by a fair and 
impartial decision maker. No one here is looking to give immigrants a 
free ride, just a fair chance.
  Our work will not stop with the introduction of this legislation. 
While this bill lays the benchmark for future Congresses of what our 
immigration policy should be, I believe that many provisions of this 
bill can be passed into law, including the restoration of section 
245(i), Congressman Frank's Family Reunification Act and Senator 
Kennedy's Immigrant Fairness Restoration Act.
  Justice and fairness, as well as our own economic interests, demand 
that we take these actions.