[Congressional Record: May 9, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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By Mr. DASCHLE (for himself, Mr. Kennedy, and Mr. Dodd):
S. 2493. A bill to amend the immigration and Nationality Act to
provide a limited extension of the program under section 245(i) of that
Act; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, yesterday, the House passed the border
security legislation, and I expect it will become law very soon.
Passage of the border security bill was an important first step in
moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform, and it was one of
the Democratic Principles that Representative Gephardt and I introduced
Unfortunately, another important provision was not included in the
border security legislation, the extension of section 245(i). It would
allow families to stay together in this country while waiting to become
As I have said on many occasions, I am strongly committed to a
meaningful 245(i) extension. Regrettably, the House waited 6 months to
act on 245(i) legislation that the Senate passed last September. This
delay meant that key provisions in the bill became unworkable. The
House-passed version contained hard deadlines that would have required
applicants to have established familial or employment relationships
before August 2001. These deadlines would have imposed impractical
hurdles for immigrant families to overcome.
Today, I am pleased to announce that I am introducing a new 245(i)
extension bill that would remove these hard deadlines. My bill would
move the application deadline to April 30, 2003, and maintain current
prohibitions against fraudulent marriages and national security
This bill mirrors the version that was introduced by Senators Hagel
and Kennedy last spring, and it should receive strong bipartisan
support. I know both the President and Senator Lott have repeatedly
expressed their desire to pass 245(i) legislation. It is my hope that
they will work with me to help get it passed very soon.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the
There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the
Record, as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Uniting Families Act of
SEC. 2. LIMITED EXTENSION OF SECTION 245(I) PROGRAM.
(a) Extension of Filing Deadline.--Section 245(i)(1)(B)(i)
of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.
1255(i)(1)(B)(i)) is amended by striking ``on or before April
30, 2001'' and inserting ``on or before April 30, 2003''.
(b) Exclusion of Certain Inadmissible and Deportable
Aliens.--The amendment made by subsection (a) shall not apply
to any alien who is--
(1) inadmissible under section 212(a)(3), or deportable
under section 237(a)(4), of the Immigration and Nationality
Act (relating to security and related grounds); or
(2) deportable under section 237(a)(1)(G) of such Act
(relating to marriage fraud).
(c) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a)
shall apply to applicants for adjustment of status who are
beneficaries of petitions for classification or applications
for labor certifications filed before, on, or after the date
of enactment of this Act.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, since September 11, Congress has taken
significant steps to strengthen the security of our borders and improve
our immigration system. Last month, the Senate passed important
legislation to strengthen border security, improve our ability to
screen foreign nationals, and enhance our ability to deter potential
terrorists. In addition, Senator Brownback and I recently introduced
legislation to restructure the Immigration and Naturalization Service
so that the agency is better prepared to address security concerns.
As we work to respond to the security issues before us, we can't lose
sight of the other immigration issues that are still a priority. I'm
pleased to join Senator Daschle in moving forward with one of those
issues today by introducing the Uniting Families Act of 2002. This
legislation extends section 245(i), a vital provision of U.S.
immigration law which allows individuals who already legally qualify
for permanent residency to process their applications in the United
States, without returning to their homes countries.
Without 245(i), immigrants are forced to leave their families here in
the U.S. and risk separation from them for up to 10 years. Seventy-five
percent of the people who have used 245(i) are the spouses and children
of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Extending this critical
provision will help keep families together and help businesses retain
critical workers. In addition, the INS will receive millions of dollars
in additional revenues, at no cost to taxpayers.
Extending 245(i) does not provide any loopholes for potential
terrorists. Instead, it will improve the monitoring of immigrants
already residing in this country. Individuals who qualify for permanent
residency and process their applications in the U.S. are subject to
rigorous background checks and interviews. This process provides the
government a good opportunity to investigate individuals who are in
this country and determine whether they should be allowed to remain
Section 245(i) does not provide amnesty to immigrants or any benefits
to anyone suspected of marriage fraud. The provision provides no
protection from deportation if someone is here illegally and no right
to surpass other immigrants waiting for visas.
The House passed legislation recently to extend section 245(i), but
it was too restrictive to provide any meaningful assistance. The
Uniting Families Act will extend the filing deadline to April 30, 2003,
and provide needed and well-deserved relief to members of our immigrant
I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this needed extension.
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