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[Congressional Record: April 23, 2002 (House)]
[Page H1493]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                           IMMIGRATION REFORM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Fletcher). Pursuant to the order of the 
House of January 23, 2002, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) 
is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the challenges of this 
Congress are many, and there are many diverse interests that we have. 
Representatives of the people's House come from all over the Nation, 
and clearly they offer to the American people the best opportunity to 
debate the issues that Americans are concerned about.
  One of those that causes a great deal of confusion, of course, is the 
policies of immigration and the work of the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service.
  More than any other time, September 11 helped the issues of 
immigration to explode on the psyche of Americans. I have constantly 
said as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Immigration that 
immigration does not equate to terrorism. So many of us came to this 
land in many different forms, some voluntarily and some involuntarily.
  Mr. Speaker, we have this week the opportunity to address the 
questions of fixing the Immigration and Naturalization Service agency, 
to be able to address the concerns not only of Americans, but Members 
of Congress, who day after day and time after time spend a good 60 
percent or more of their office staff time addressing the questions of 
  Some would say, here we go again, talking about illegal immigrants 
and people coming in to take our jobs. No, immigration deals with 
individuals who come here to reunite with their family, who come to be 
a part of this great country, who are law-abiding, tax-paying 
individuals and families, and they are hard working. Immigrants 
represent the infrastructure and base of the agricultural industry; and 
if we talk to those who are in that industry, they will be the biggest 
champions of those who come to work, but maybe not so much the 
champions of good working conditions and housing conditions and 
  So America has to be honest and true to its values and balance the 
reunification of families and the fairness of our Nation with the fact 
that we must have a system that thwarts illegal immigration, but 
respects and acknowledges access to legalization and family 
  This week, we will be dealing with the restructuring of the INS. Some 
call it the abolishing of the INS. It is a revamping and a redoing. It 
is to set up an agency that can work. We establish, for the first time 
in history, a Children's Bureau that deals with the many children that 
come unattended to the United States, who need either an opportunity to 
be reunited with their families, or to be sent to their homeland.
  It provides a real office of student tracking so the tragedies of 
September 11 with student visas not being appropriately tracked will 
have at least an office. It gives the position of the Deputy Associate 
Attorney General, the second-highest-ranking job in the Department of 
Justice, the responsibility of covering two bureaus, one dealing with 
those accessing legalization and the other dealing with enforcement. It 
provides a line of chain of command so that the centers and district 
offices are coordinated and there is not one hand saying something 
different from the other hand, that enforcement is not in conflict with 
services, but that they are coordinated.
  Someone said, it is going to be under the Department of Justice and I 
do not like that. It is under the Department of Justice now. But we are 
abolishing it in its form so that the administration can change the 
infrastructure under the umbrella of this new legislation. I would only 
hope that they will take up the chance and work with Congress. We will 
be fighting for more resources and professional development training 
for the employees and the right of these particular leaders of this 
agency to select new staff, energized staff to be able to work on these 
  I hope that the op-eds in the editorial pages of America's newspapers 
will take the time to read and understand legislation as opposed to 
making blanket comments about what they do not like and do like. All of 
us have problems with the systems that are broken in the immigration 
structure, but we cannot have problems with those who come to this land 
seeking opportunity and justice. Who are we to say. Each of us, all of 
us can count an experience of coming to this land of opportunity. No 
one, except for our native Americans, has any standing to suggest who 
can come in and who cannot. We must have procedures and laws. We must 
promote legal immigration and access to legalization, but we must also 
as a country stand for our values.
  Mr. Speaker, we will get that opportunity to debate this important 
bill on the floor of the House this coming Thursday. It started out as 
H.R. 1562, which I wrote some years ago; and it is a compromise bill, 
working together with both sides of the aisle. But I am very proud of 
the Children's Bureau that has been included and the fact that we now 
have a structure that allows for a command chain to be in place and to 
also be able to fix the problems, fix what is broken, and to be able to 
respect that all of us have walked and all of us have come for freedom 
and justice and opportunity.
  I hope that this does not wallow into the accusations of anti-
immigrant policies and debate. I hope that it talks about what this 
bill is; and it is to fix the system, to protect our borders, to ensure 
that we have protection for those who come legally and the 
acknowledgment of those who do not. Then I hope, lastly, that we will 
bring America together, because that is what this country stands for, 
unity and an affirmation of our wonderful values.