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[Congressional Record: March 21, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E425]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                             HON. TOM DAVIS

                              of virginia

                    in the house of representatives

                       Wednesday, March 20, 2002

  Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the 
Central American Security Act (CASA). This legislation has strong bi-
partisan support, and would give Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans 
the same opportunity to adjust their immigration status that Congress 
extended to Nicaraguans and Cubans in 1997.
  In 1997, Congress passed the Nicaraguan and Central American Relief 
Act (NACARA) which offered drastically different immigration relief for 
Nicaraguans and Cubans than it did for Salvadorans and Guatemalans, 
despite similar political situations in El Salvador, Guatemala,'and 
Honduras. Immigrants arriving here from these countries were all 
fleeing similar circumstances. As a result of this disparity in 
treatment, there are many undocumented Central Americans in the United 
States today who are hard-working, taxpaying, long-term residents with 
no way to regularize their immigration status. Our bill would resolve 
the contradiction.
  While there are strong equity and fairness arguments to provide 
``parity'' to Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans, we are equally 
interested in the key U.S. foreign policy and national security 
interests in Central America that are served by the proposal.
  After suffering through a string of brutal civil wars, these 
countries now have moderate, democratically-elected governments. They 
have made great progress in respecting human rights and the rule of 
law. These are pro-American, multi-party democracies where political 
violence has been largely eliminated. Yet, these emerging democracies 
remain fragile, ravaged by natural disasters and beset by economic 
hardship. We must do what we can to help and nurture them.
  Hard-working Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans in the United 
States send billions of dollars home to their families every year. 
These funds strengthen democratic institutions and provide for basic 
human needs. They amount to significantly more than we could ever hope 
to provide in foreign aid. Cutting off these remittances would renew 
economic and political instability in the region, undermine efforts to 
combat terrorism and drug trafficking, and generate massive new 
migration to the United States.
  According to the INS, as many as 8 million undocumented immigrants 
live in the U.S. today. This is a situation profoundly affecting our 
national security, and we should make every effort to change it for the 
better. While we do not have the resources to find and identify all of 
the undocumented aliens in our country, we must give them some 
incentive to come forward and identify themselves. CASA would provide 
that incentive to bring some of these aliens out of the shadows and 
encourage them to register with the federal government.
  Mr. Speaker, it is in our best interest to enhance domestic security 
efforts and to ensure the economic and political stability of Central 
America. Therefore, I urge all of my colleagues to support this fair 
and equitable legislation.