[Congressional Record: September 10, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S. 2845
Mr. CORZINE. Mr. President, I appreciate the distinguished Senator
from Nevada giving me the opportunity to speak on an issue that I am
really quite sad about, in all honesty. This is a human issue that I
bring to the floor today that I think is an oversight on the part of
the Senate and actually all of us in public life.
I want to speak about families of lawful noncitizens whose loved ones
perished in the World Trade Center. They are about to be put into a
position where, on a legal basis, they are deportable as of September
11, 2002, and this at the same time as they are taking on that
incredibly difficult task of dismantling their lives here in the United
States and returning to their country of birth.
This legislation would extend by 1 year the relief we provided in the
Patriot Act to allow noncitizens whose parent or spouse was murdered in
the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Today is September 10, just 1 day shy of the 1-year anniversary of
the most significant terrorist attack on the United States in history.
The United States lost some 2,800 lives, as you know, but in the past
year we have forgotten, in my view, to take into consideration the 504
nationals from 86 foreign countries who were a part of that. Many of
these victims were in the United States as guest workers, contributing
their technical expertise in helping the U.S. economy be the strongest
in the world, be the engine of the world's economy. When they died,
their hopes to provide a better life for themselves and their children
in the United States died with them.
Tomorrow is September 11, and deportation proceedings could very well
begin, if the INS were to proceed this way, for the grieving families
of those temporary workers. While those families watch the media
coverage of the anniversary--coverage that will no doubt extol the
bravery and the sacrifice of so many of their family members--their
presence in the United States will be in jeopardy.
These families were admitted to the United States 100 percent
lawfully. They had all of their papers. They were admitted because we
invited them here to help drive our economy. They did not sneak across
any border or overstay their visas. They are lawfully present in the
United States because work visas were provided to their loved ones.
They paid taxes and submitted all appropriate paperwork. They were
active in our communities in New York and New Jersey and very
productive members of our society. Yet on the 1-year anniversary of the
death of their loved ones, the INS could begin making arrangements for
their removal from this country. Fortunately, the INS said they are
going to turn a blind eye. But folks have to live with the risk that
this is a possibility.
The challenges faced by these brave families were anticipated by
those of us in Congress. In fact, the Patriot Act appropriately allowed
them an additional year to remain in the United States. But it is
becoming quite clear an additional year for families who have had to
suffer so much is not adequate. This legislation is a response to the
very real challenges of these families.
For example, many of these families are participating in September 11
support groups, groups that simply would
not exist in the countries to which they may be returning. Many of them
are eligible for awards from the Victims Compensation Fund, but, as you
know, many of the awards have not been processed, or even begun to be
processed in many instances. Much work remains to be done.
Although they have been in mourning for nearly a year, many widows
and children are waiting patiently for DNA analysis of the remains of
their loved ones. Without closure, the grieving process has been
prolonged considerably. Because of this delay, many necessary and
unfamiliar financial matters have not been adequately addressed. There
are homes that need to be sold and other business affairs to be settled
before these folks should be returning home.
Also, there are children to consider, many of them in American
schools, who have begun their lives. Many of them are American
citizens, the children themselves. In fact, I think some of these
children could potentially be separated from their parents as we go
forward with this whole process. So it is a real issue at a human level
on the ground, where people are trying to work their way through this
tragic series of events.
While it is difficult to define the precise number of survivors who
would be eligible for relief under my legislation, it is safe to say it
is under 200. I think it also reflects some problems in the INS. The
books and records are not exactly clear on how many folks there are
involved. We have identified, in my office, about 80 of these people
with whom we are working to try to provide special attention to them.
The thought is, it would be close to 200.
Yet despite the fact that this legislation is sculpted very narrowly
to address only the most immediate humanitarian considerations for this
population, and despite the fact that the number of people included is
a narrow 200 or fewer, each time I have attempted to get this
legislation cleared, an objection has been raised. Generally, it has
been one individual who has used their ability to quietly veto this
So at this time, with September 11 just 1 day away, Mr. President, I
think it is time to pass this legislation. I think it is important. I
think it speaks to the nature and the quality of who we are as a
Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate take up and pass
S. 2845, legislation to extend for 1 year procedural relief provided
under the USA Patriot Act for individuals who were or are victims or
survivors of victims of a terrorist attack on the United States on
September 11, 2001.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
Mr. BURNS. Objection.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There is objection.
Mr. CORZINE. I appreciate the responsibility of the Senator from
Wyoming to carry out the objection.
I continue to have serious concerns that if the facts of this issue
were known broadly, they would not be resisted. I personally sought out
the assistance of a number of folks who have typically objected to
legislation dealing with immigration: Senator Byrd, Senator Nickles,
and particularly Senator Hatch, and they have been very helpful on
this--and the Senator from Montana; excuse me. The distinguished
Senator from Montana. I apologize. I am tied up in this sense of--
Mr. BURNS. I say to the Senator from New Jersey, I have lived on both
sides of the line.
Mr. CORZINE. It is all a beautiful part of the country.
But I must say, of all of the issues that get at human interests, I
consider it extraordinarily unusual that we have chosen to put a group
of people--a limited group of people--at such risk.
I think this idea of having people be able to secretly hold
legislation is a troubling one. I hope we can move on with it. I think
this is an important piece of legislation.
I thank the Senator from Montana for his graciousness, and also the
Senator from Nevada. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on this
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