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[Congressional Record: May 9, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S4147-S4165]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []



[ ... ]

[[Page S4155]]

[ ... ]

      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 
last fall.
  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 
permanent residents.
  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:

                                S. 2493

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Uniting Families Act of 


       (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.

[[Page S4156]]

  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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