[Congressional Record: March 21, 2002 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
CENTRAL AMERICAN SECURITY ACT (CASA)
HON. TOM DAVIS
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
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.
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