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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

      By Mrs. HUTCHISON (for herself, Mr. Levin, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. 
        Domenici, Mr. Murkowski and Ms. Cantwell):
  S. 2742. A bill to establish new nonimmigrant classes for border 
commuter students; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleague from 
Texas, Senator Hutchison, in introducing legislation to make part-time 
commuter students who are nationals of either Canada or Mexico and 
attend school in the United States eligible for student visas.
  Thousands of Canadian nationals commute to attend schools part time 
in the United States and hundreds of these part-time students commute 
to schools in Michigan. Between 35 and 40 part-time Canadian students 
attend Baker College, in Port Huron, MI, each semester. And more than 
400 Canadian students plan to attend Wayne State University in Detroit 
part time this fall alone. Other schools in Michigan, including Lake 
Superior State University in Sault Saint Marie, also have a number of 
part-time Canadian students. Unfortunately, current law does not 
establish an appropriate visa for these part-time commuter students.
  Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, aliens who reside in a 
foreign country and are pursuing a full course of study from a 
recognized vocational institution or an established college, 
university, or other academic institution in the United States are 
eligible for student visas. For purposes of granting student visas, the 
INS defines ``full course of study'' as 12 credits or more. Part-time 
commuter students, those who might be only taking a class or two, are 
not currently eligible for student visas.
  However, some INS district offices have permitted part-time commuter 
students to enter the United States as visitors to pursue their 
studies. However, the INS recently announced its intention to eliminate 
this practice and enforce the full time, 12 credit hour requirement.
  I agree with the INS that we need to tighten up enforcement of our 
immigration laws. However, achieving this goal does not mean that we 
have to prohibit all part-time commuter students from attending classes 
at schools in the United States. But absent a legislative remedy, that 
is exactly what will happen. Fortunately, the agency recently postponed 
enforcement of the policy until August 15, 2002, while administrative 
and legislative remedies are considered. The legislation we are 
introducing today appropriately addresses the problem facing part-time 
commuter students without opening new avenues for illegal immigration.
  Our bill would amend 18 U.S.C. 1101 to make certain part-time 
commuter students eligible for student visas. The bill would allow 
nationals of Canada or Mexico who both maintain a residence and a place 
of abode in their country or nationality and who commute to school to 
enroll part time in schools in the United States. Part-time commuter 
student visas are restricted to nationals of Canada or Mexico. Our bill 
would not make political asylees, residents, or others who are 
nationals of third countries but simply live in Canada or Mexico 
eligible for the visas.
  The legislation also enhances national security by ensuring that 
part-time commuter students are tracked through SEVIS, the Student and 
Exchange Visitor Information System. SEVIS was set up to make the 
Federal Government aware of changes in a foreign student's status that 
could affect their eligibility to remain in the United States. The 
Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act passed by the Senate 
in April and signed into law by the President on May 14, 2002, paved 
the way for full implementation of SEVIS. Certain schools began 
participating in a SEVIS this month and participation is mandatory by 
January 30, 2003. However, SEVIS only tracks nonimmigrant students and 
exchange visitors. Aliens admitted with visitor visas are not tracked 
through the system. Our bill will, for the first time, ensure that 
part-time commuter students from

[[Page S6953]]

Canada and Mexico are tracked through SEVIS.
  Mr. President, the legislation we are introducing today is not only 
an improvement on current INS policy with regards to part-time commuter 
students but it closes an important loophole in INS's student tracking 
system. I am pleased to join Senator Hutchinson in introducing the bill 
and I look forward to seeing it pass the 107th Congress.

                  Border Commuter Student Act of 2002

  Ms. CANTWELL. Mr. President, I am joining today with Senator Kay 
Bailey Hutchison to introduce the Border Commuter Student Act of 2002.
  In my State and many other States along our borders, Canadian and 
Mexican students take advantage of our excellent community colleges and 
vocational schools. For many years, this system has worked well, 
providing economic benefits to the schools and to the surrounding 
communities while also helping Mexican and Canadian students to benefit 
from educational opportunities in this country.
  Unfortunately, despite the fact that this is a system that has worked 
well for both Canadian students and the local communities the 
Immigration and Naturalization, INS, recently decided to begin 
enforcing a 50-year-old law that prohibits those students from 
attending U.S. schools on a part-time basis. As of August 15, students 
will no longer be allowed to cross the Canadian border to attend 
classes at Bellingham Technical College. This will result in a 
significant loss of funds for Bellingham Technical College and the 
surrounding community in Whatcom County which is already suffering from 
severely reduced border traffic in the wake of September 11 and the 
economic downturn in the State as a whole.
  They will not be allowed to cross the border to attend El Paso 
Community College, D'Youville College in Buffalo, or Wayne State 
University in Detroit.
  In my home State of Washington, Bellingham Technical College 
currently has many part-time students who commute from Canada, the vast 
majority of whom are enrolled in nursing, surgical technology, and 
dental assistant training programs. This action is being taken at the 
same time we are facing a devastating shortage of nurses and other 
health care professionals both in the United States and in Canada.
  This bill will address this issue by creating a new category for 
students who do not intend to immigrate to this country. It will be 
limited to Canadian and Mexican commuter students residing in their 
home country and attending school on a full- or part-time basis at 
schools in many of our border States. In order to qualify for this 
visa, students will have to prove that they are who they say they are, 
and will be subjected to more strict requirements than Canadian 
visitors entering the U.S. for pleasure.
  Our educational system is the best in the world, and the INS decision 
to terminate a system that has been extending that educational 
opportunity to those who live adjacent to our borders and that has been 
providing economic benefit to my State and many other States, is the 
wrong policy. With the introduction of this legislation today, we will 
address this problem and allow a system that has been working to 
continue. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the Border Commuter Student 
Act of 2002.
  I would like to thank Senator Hutchison for her leadership on the 
bill and look forward to working with her and my other colleagues to 
pass this important legislation