[Congressional Record: July 22, 2002 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
EXTENSION OF IRISH PEACE PROCESS CULTURAL AND TRAINING PROGRAM
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass
the bill (H.R. 4558) to extend the Irish Peace Process Cultural and
The Clerk read as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. EXTENSION OF IRISH PEACE PROCESS CULTURAL AND
Section 2 of the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training
Program Act of 1998 (8 U.S.C. 1101 note) is amended--
(1) in subsection (a)(2)(A) by striking ``3'' and inserting
(2) in subsection (a)(3) by striking ``3'' and inserting
(3) in subsection (d)(1) by striking ``2005,'' and
inserting ``2006,''; and
(4) in subsection (d)(2) by striking ``2005,'' and
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) and the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms.
Jackson-Lee) each will control 20 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend
their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 4558, the bill
now under consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Wisconsin?
There was no objection.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
H.R. 4558 amends the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training
Program Act of 1998, which established a cultural training program for
disadvantaged individuals to assist the Irish peace process. The
program creates 12,000 3-year nonimmigrant visas of the Q
classification for adults between the ages of 18 and 35 who live in
disadvantaged areas in northern Ireland and the border counties of the
Irish Republic. The program enacted in 1998 is set to sunset on October
1, 2005. This bill extends it for 1 year to 2006.
The purpose of the visa is to provide practical training, employment,
and the experience of co-existence and conflict resolution in a diverse
society and a strong economy such as ours. After trainees return home,
they can provide the critical skill base needed to attract private
investment in their local economies. The program currently operates in
Washington, D.C.; Colorado Springs; Boston; and Pittsburgh. Because the
program has been so successful, it also began in Syracuse, New York,
within the past few months.
The program got off to a late start due to funding trouble. As such,
H.R. 4558 would extend the program for 1 year to make up for the delay
so that additional young people can take advantage of this successful
program and become peacemakers for Northern Ireland.
I urge my colleagues to support this bill.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the gentleman from Ohio
(Mr. Brown) will manage the time on his side of the aisle.
There was no objection.
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may
This appears to be a very worthwhile bill, as it amends the Irish
Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998 to extend
through fiscal year 2006. The Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training
Program provides for admission into the U.S. each fiscal year of up to
4,000 young disadvantaged aliens from designated counties in Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. These youths suffer from sectarian
violence and high unemployment.
The need for these programs is highlighted by the recent outbreak of
violence in the country. The Guardian newspaper reports today that a
young 20-year-old Catholic man was shot dead in north Belfast. This
shooting is a continuation of a series of shootings. Earlier, a 19-
year-old Protestant man was shot in the groin in Ardoyne close to the
site of last year's loyalist picket at Holy Cross School. The shootings
followed a series of violent clashes in north Belfast over the weekend
in which an elderly disabled man narrowly escaped death when a petrol
bomb was thrown into his home as he slept. Officials and residents are
concerned that the renewed attacks will escalate violence in the
Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, this program will help put an end to such
violence. This program helps these young people develop job and
conflict resolution skills in a diverse and peaceful environment so
they can return to their homes better able to contribute toward
economic regeneration and a lasting peace in Ireland. America's vibrant
Irish community welcomes this. I think it is a good idea.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman
from New York (Mr. Walsh).
Mr. WALSH. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R. 4558, a bill
to extend the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program. This
legislation would simply extend the current program for 1 year and
allow another group of participants from Northern Ireland and the
border counties to enter into the program in fiscal year 2003. I would
like to thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gekas), who has been
such a wonderful advocate for this bill and also the gentleman from
Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner), who, despite an incredibly heavy
workload in the Committee on the Judiciary, fast-tracked this bill. We
are very grateful to both of them.
As chairman of the bipartisan Friends of Ireland Caucus here in the
House, I believe this is a vital program in support of the Northern
Ireland peace process; and I thank the committee for their prompt
Imagine a program where young people are able to leave Irish
neighborhoods of hardship and strife to experience life in a
multicultural, multireligious, and diverse Nation. Upon return, they
share what they have learned with their peers and build a better life
for themselves and their families, a life of greater acceptance of
difference without hate. This was the idea of the Irish Peace Process
Cultural and Training Program, which began in 1998.
The original legislation, H.R. 4293, creates 12,000 3-year
nonimmigrant visas, Q classification, for adults between the ages of 18
and 35 who live in disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland and the
border counties of the Republic of Ireland. It aims to assist the
region in its transition to a peacetime economy. As a low-cost, low-
risk, high-return investment in peace, it affords people an opportunity
to obtain valuable job skills and the experience of working in the
world's greatest economy. After their visit, they return home to
provide the crucial skill base needed to attract private investment in
their local communities.
Signed into law by President Clinton on October 30, 1998, the
legislation directs the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to
establish a program for young people who are residents of these areas
to, quote, ``develop job skills and conflict resolution abilities.''
Since its inception, this program has already allowed about 500 young
people ages 18 to 35 to immerse themselves in the culture in United
States hub cities, including Colorado Springs; Washington, D.C.;
Boston; Pittsburgh; and, most recently, my home, Syracuse. When the
program was created, the Congress had no idea how many visas would be
required. We had no accurate way to gauge interest among young people
in those areas. However, the program is working; and I am anxiously
awaiting a review by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the
State Department next spring when the first group of participants
return to their home country.
Mr. Speaker, current regulations state that INS may only admit 4,000
aliens per year under this program for a maximum of 36 months and only
during the years 2000, 2001, and 2002. This legislation would simply
allow another group of participants in fiscal year 2003 to obtain a 3-
year Q-2 visa and enter into the program. This is understood by the
State Department as well as the Ireland and Northern Ireland
governments. If approved, they are expecting about 250 additional visas
will be issued next year.
Mr. Speaker, whenever Members of Congress visit Ireland and Northern
Ireland, we are thanked for the support Congress has given to the peace
process and reminded of the need to maintain our involvement. We have
seen firsthand benefits of private and public investment in these
distressed areas that have suffered the most from the violence over the
last 30 years.
The peace process in Northern Ireland is a great story, but it is an
ongoing story and needs leadership from within and support from
outside. This program is part of our ongoing commitment to a process
that would have been impossible without U.S. involvement.
The visa program will leverage existing and future private investment
at a time of fiscal austerity. This program is a relatively inexpensive
way to promote peace, reconciliation and stability. I believe this
program serves as a model for future efforts to bring peace and resolve
conflicts in other hot spots around the world.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the adoption of H.R. 4558.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of H.R. 4558
an extension of the Irish Peace Process Cultural Training program
sponsored by my friend and colleague the gentleman from New York. Mr.
Walsh, who chairs the Congressional Friends of Ireland.
Today, in the north of Ireland the institutions established by the
Good Friday Accord are up and running. They are serving the people very
well in a shared governance scheme supported by the two governments in
the region, by our nation, and most of the people in both the north and
Now that we have changed their means of governance, we must also help
change hearts and minds in the long divided Irish society, where sadly
some elements of sectarianism still exist.
During this past summer we witnessed nearly nightly violence in some
of the inter-faced areas in the inner city of Belfast, where some
Catholics and Protestants have yet to learn to live together side by
Mr. Walsh's plan, extended by H.R. 4558, has provided for young
people from the north and the border counties in the south to come to
our nation. Here they can learn new skills and at the same time also
learn to live and work together in peace and harmony in multi-cultural
societies, such as ours.
These new job skills and cultural experiences that they learn here
and take back to Ireland, are just what Northern Ireland needs today.
While the shared governance scheme has changed the institutions, we
also must help change mind sets and develop new outlooks and
opportunities for the young people of the region. Mr. Walsh's program
meets those two vital needs, and is a long term and insightful solution
for what next needs to be done in Northern Ireland.
On a recent Codel to Ireland, I am informed, the Walsh visa program
won high praise from some members of the Irish Dail and the Northern
Ireland assembly. These are people on the ground who know the
challenges and what can and needs to be done by our nation to cement
I urge all of our colleagues who are for the future of Northern
Ireland and especially its young people to vote for H.R. 4558. It is
yet another commitment from our nation to the people of Northern
Ireland, especially the young, who are its future.
There is no turning back from the Good Friday accord as the important
and well meaning IRA apology of last week made clear. We are at the
dawn of a new beginning in that long troubled region. H.R. 4558 is a
vital part of our contribution to that new and hopeful future, and I
urge its adoption.
Mr. BROWN of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time,
and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SENSENBRENNER. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time,
and I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Stearns). The question is on the motion
offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Sensenbrenner) that the
House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 4558.
The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor
thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
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