[Congressional Record: April 15, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
ENHANCED BORDER SECURITY AND VISA ENTRY REFORM
Mr. KYL. In the remaining time I have I would like to address a
matter that will be before the Senate as the pending business as soon
as we conclude morning business; that is, the Enhanced Border Security
and Visa Entry Reform Act, H.R. 3525. The sponsors of this legislation
all spoke to the reasons for this legislation on Friday when the matter
was brought to the floor at 11:30 by unanimous consent request of the
majority leader. I thank Majority Leader Daschle for bringing this
matter to the Senate floor so we can dispose of it.
A little bit of history is in order. The sponsors of the
legislation--Senators Kennedy, Brownback, Feinstein, and myself--had
worked hard to develop this legislation in the aftermath of September
11 because we held hearings in two different subcommittees of the
Judiciary Committee that revealed loopholes in our immigration laws,
loopholes through which some of the terrorists who came here and
carried out their horrible attack on September 11 were able to gain
entry into the United States. They came on legal visas, visas that in
some cases should never have been granted. They were here under student
visas, even though they no longer attended the classes they had signed
up to attend. In the case of some of them, they were out of status by
the time of September 11.
We set about to identify loopholes in our immigration and visa laws
that we could close to make it much more difficult for terrorists to
gain entry into the United States. That legislation was developed
before the end of last year's congressional session and was actually
adopted by the House of Representatives just before we adjourned for
the year. We attempted to have it adopted by the Senate, but Senator
Byrd objected on the grounds that it required Senate debate, and he
didn't want to simply adopt it as a matter of unanimous consent.
At the beginning of this year, we sought to find ways to bring the
bill to the Senate floor for that debate and amendment, if need be, and
had not been successful until the end of last week when, as I said, the
majority leader successfully propounded a unanimous consent request
that the Senate take the bill up. There is no limitation on time nor on
amendments, but there has been such a strong outpouring of support for
the bill--indeed, I think there are some 61 cosponsors, and that
probably reflects the fact we have not gotten around to all the Members
of the Senate, that it is clear the bill can pass very quickly as soon
as we are ready to call for the final vote. But out of deference to
those who believed it did need debate, that opportunity has been made
The only people I am aware of who spoke on the legislation on Friday
were the four cosponsors: Senators Kennedy, Brownback, Feinstein, and
myself. We all laid out the case, to one degree or another, for the
legislation and urged our colleagues who may have something to say
about it to come to the floor and express themselves. Indeed, if there
were amendments, we would be happy to entertain those amendments.
We are obviously hopeful there will not be, so we can simply adopt
the legislation approved by the House and we can send it to the
President for his signature. Why is this our goal? Each week that goes
by without this legislation being in place represents an opportunity
for a terrorist to gain entry into the United States. We have to close
the loopholes. Most of the actions the legislation calls for are going
to take time to implement, so it is not as if we can slam the door shut
the minute the President signs the bill. We have to put into place
procedures, for example, whereby the FBI, CIA, international
organizations, and others can all make available, to the people who
grant visas, information that bears upon the qualifications of the
people seeking entry to the United States, people who apply for the
visas--information that might suggest, for example, that there is a
connection with a terrorist group and therefore the visa ought to be
That is going to take time to implement, as will other provisions of
the legislation. So time is wasting. We know there is no--I was going
to state it in the negative. I was going to say there is no evidence
the terrorists have given up the ghost here. I think there is a lot of
evidence that they will try to strike us when they believe they can,
and when they see us as having a point of vulnerability. That is why we
have to begin to close these windows of vulnerability as soon as
The head of the INS has indicated he thinks some of the timeframes
for achievement of results under this legislation may even be pretty
difficult for INS to meet, which is to say it is all the more important
to begin now to close these loopholes because it is going to take a
while to get everything
in place, to effectuate all of the pieces of this legislation.
That goes back to my point that we have to get this signed as soon as
possible. If there are amendments to the legislation here on the Senate
floor, then it will have to go to a conference committee. That is all
right, assuming we can get the conference to act quickly and bring the
bill back to both the House and the Senate. But it is important we do
that so the President can sign the legislation.
I appeal to my colleagues who have something to say about this,
especially those who believed we should not consider it without debate
on the floor, to come to the Chamber and explain their views on it, and
to offer any amendments if they have amendments, so we can deal with
those amendments and get on with our business.
I know the majority leader was reluctant to do this before without an
agreement to have a specific time limit on debate because he wanted to
complete work on the energy bill by the end of this week--as do, I
think, almost all of us. I am sure all of us would like to be done with
the energy bill. But we are not going to be able to finish that if we
cannot quickly finish the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry
Again, I call upon my colleagues to come over. Let's finish the job
and get this done.
I would like to say one other thing because there is a little element
of confusion about something in section 245(i). Section 245(i) is a
provision of the immigration law that allows for people who want to
gain permanent status in the United States under two specific
provisions to do so. Its provisions had terminated with respect to a
large group of people, maybe 200,000 or 300,000 people, who wanted to
gain permanent residence but whose legal status in the United States
terminated and therefore they would have had to go back to their
country of origin and apply for that status.
What some people wanted to do, including the administration, was to
extend the period of time that they could make their application and
complete that process so they could be allowed to stay in the United
States permanently. Some of this involves reunification of families,
In an effort to support the administration and to accommodate the
interests of those who wanted to do that, there was an agreement
between Senator Kennedy and myself--and others--about exactly how that
should be done. We both committed ourselves to trying to achieve the
ratification of the temporary extension of section 245(i). The House of
Representatives actually passed a second version of the Enhanced Border
Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, a version which included section
245(i) with it. They did that earlier this year. That bill is pending
at the desk.
It has not been called up for consideration, but I want my colleagues
to know that is where this debate about section 245(i) comes into
effect. There are some who believe section 245(i) represents a grant of
amnesty to people. Perhaps one could argue that is, to a limited
They are concerned that it represents the first step in a broader
grant of amnesty. I hope that is not the case. But they have some
concerns they have expressed about it. I hope we do not confuse the
issue of 245(i) with H.R. 3525, the bill pending at the desk that we
will be taking up again in just a few minutes--we can quickly pass H.R.
3525, get it to the President for signature, and then deal with section
245(i)--because I believe we need to deal with it, but I believe it
will be easier to deal with outside the context of H.R. 3525.
Here is the reason I say that. I urge my colleagues who may be
thinking about combining the two just to think about this for a moment.
I believe we have an excellent chance of getting both of these things
passed. But I think we may have an excellent chance of getting neither
of them passed if they are combined. The reason is, I am concerned the
Members of the House of Representatives may not be as inclined to vote
for section 245(i) again as they were before. As a result, if we put
this into conference and the question were put to the Members of the
House, I am not certain they would vote for it. Nor am I sure that
those who are opposed to section 245(i) in this body would permit it to
come to a vote if it had to be brought back to this body as part of the
Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act.
So I urge my colleagues who support this to bear with us and
understand we can have both of these things if we treat them
separately. Those who oppose 245(i) will have a full opportunity to
debate it and amend it if necessary, and to have a vote on it. But I
hope that in an effort to kill section 245(i), they will not also be
willing to kill H.R. 3525. I just tell my colleagues, if you try to
combine 245(i) with H.R. 3525, you may be signing the death warrant for
both, and I do not think that is the intent, of some people, anyway,
who have talked about the possibility of filing an amendment relating
to section 245(i) on H.R. 3525.
So I call on my colleagues to come to the floor and debate this
legislation. If they have amendments, let's offer the amendments and
try to dispose of them.
I see Senator Kennedy is here, with whom I worked closely on this
legislation. Frankly, we would not be where we are without all the work
he has put into it. I am sure he will join me in asking those who have
anything at all to say about it to come to the floor and say it so we
can get on with it, take our vote, and then get back on the energy bill
which obviously we want to conclude by the end of this week.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Leahy). Without objection, it is so
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM