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[Congressional Record: November 10, 2003 (Senate)]
[Page S14287-S14334]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                   AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004

  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to the consideration of H.R. 2799, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       A bill (H.R. 2799) making appropriations for the 
     Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, 
     and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 
     2004, and for other purposes.

  The Senate proceeded to consider the bill.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Allard). The Senator from Nevada.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, this is a most important bill. I understand 
how important it is. I also understand it is normal procedure to have 
the chairman of the subcommittee speak first and the ranking member 
speak second. But I feel it is appropriate, in talking about this bill, 
to respond very briefly to my friend from Kentucky.
[ ... ] 

I don't condone illegal immigration. I certainly don't condone 
farmers growing illegal crops. But I understand desperate people doing 
desperate things in desperate conditions in Mexico affecting the United 
States. That is why I sponsored an amendment recently to the State 
Department authorization bill that extends a helping hand to our 
neighbor Mexico. It provides $10 million for microcredit lending to 
small businesses and for entrepreneurial development aid to small 
farmers and persons who have been affected by the collapse of coffee 
prices. It calls for programs to support Mexico's private coffee 
ownership system which is in dire need of repair.
  My friend, Senator Ensign, supports this. He says this is what the 
free enterprise system is all about. I am grateful to all of my 
colleagues who voted for this amendment. It won't solve these problems 
overnight, but we have to start somewhere. Our neighbor needs help. We 
can't turn a blind eye to our friends in Mexico. This is not a handout; 
it is a commitment to a free-market-based program that will support 
long-term development and growth in rural areas of Mexico.
  By extending a hand to our neighbor, we are also keeping our own 
Nation strong and keeping it secure. That is what our State Department 
should be looking at. That is what we need to do.

[ ... ] 

We have in this bill dealing with Commerce-State-Justice 
appropriations a provision that funds the Board of Immigration Appeals. 
I would like to take a few minutes to discuss the board, immigration 
policy, and the importance of the Dream Act. In the past year, the Bush 
administration has attempted to dismantle the only judicial review 
process we have for our Nation's immigrants. The board is responsible 
for applying the immigration nationality laws uniformly throughout the 
United States. Accordingly, the board has given nationwide jurisdiction 
to review the orders of immigration judges and other immigration-
related decisions. Decisions of the board are subject to judicial 
review in the Federal courts.
  In September 2002, the Bush administration consolidated the Bureau of 
Indian Affairs appellate procedures by turning its three-judge panel 
process to a single judge. Review by three judges is only required 
where the BIA must correct clear errors of fact, interpret the law, or 
provide guidance regarding the exercise of discretion. The 2002 rule 
permits a single-judge decision-only brief. No written opinion is 
necessary. The purpose of this legislation was to enable the board to 
resolve simple cases quickly. The effect, however, has been anything 
but efficient.
  In a 12-month period, the number of immigration administrative agency 
appeals filed in Federal court has tripled. The American Immigration 
Lawyers Association, or AILA, which represents over 8,000 of our 
Nation's immigration lawyers and law professors who practice and teach 
immigration law, has been a long-time human rights advocacy 
organization and has stated that in a 1-year period, the rate of 
rejected appeals has skyrocketed from 59 percent to 86 percent. The 
independence and impartiality of our immigration court system must be 
safeguarded. The Supreme Court, in Plyer v. Doe, stated that:

       Whatever his status under immigration laws, an alien is 
     surely a person. Aliens, even aliens whose presence in this 
     country is unlawful, have long been recognized as persons 
     guaranteed due process of law by the 5th and 14th amendments 
     to our Constitution.

  In October of 2003, the American Bar Association called upon the 
Board of Immigration Appeals to discard its new procedures and set 
forth suggested reforms to the backlog of cases. And we have the 
American Bar Association report, which we will get to at a later time. 
Streamlining the Board of Immigration Appeals process is just one 
example of an ongoing effort by this administration to shortchange our 
Nation's hard-working immigrants. While our Nation's immigration laws 
must be enforced to the fullest extent, I can't help but wonder why our 
Government is attacking the very people who help us build up our 
Nation. I think this is just an example of an ongoing effort by the 
administration to shortchange our Nation's hard-working immigrants.
Our Nation's immigration laws

[[Page S14315]]

must be enforced to the fullest extent. I cannot help but wonder why 
our Government is attacking the very people who help us build up our 
Nation rather than targeting those who tear it down.
  For example, in October 2003, Federal agents detained about 300 
suspected illegal immigrants in a nationwide investigation of cleaning 
crews at Wal-Mart stores. The authorities took the immigrants into 
custody as they finished the night shift in 61 stores in 21 States.
  Certainly, they would not want to interfere with Wal-Mart and arrest 
them before their shift was completed. The store might be dirty. We 
need the immigration policy along the lines of the DREAM Act that was 
introduced by Senators Hatch and Durbin, and I also cosponsored that. 
The DREAM Act gives States the discretion to grant State residency to 
certain youth and authorizes the Federal Government to grant 
undocumented students who are hoping to enter an institution of higher 
education conditional legal permanent resident status.
  Currently, unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for Federal 
financial aid, are not legally allowed to work, and are vulnerable to 
removal from the country, regardless of the number of years they have 
lived there. The DREAM Act would allow college-bound, undocumented 
students to apply for Federal financial aid if they meet certain 
criteria, including continuous residency for the previous 5 years, a 
high school diploma or its equivalent, and good moral character.
  This is the kind of immigration policy we should be enacting. I 
welcome the CGS committee report language for 2004, which states funds 
saved in this streamlined process are being spent three times over by 
the civil division, which must defend BIA's decisions in Federal court. 
Accordingly, the committee directed BIA to submit a report to the 
Committees on Appropriations no later than March 21, 2004, listing the 
single-judge decisions that have been appealed to the Federal courts 
and the civil division's cost to defend these decisions over the past 3 
  I hope this body will enact the necessary immigration laws in this 
  Mr. President, I want to read a story that appeared in the newspaper 
on October 25:

       Every night for months, Victor Zavala, Jr., who was 
     arrested on Thursday in a 21-State immigration raid, said he 
     showed up at the Wal-Mart store in New Jersey to clean 
     floors. As the store's regular employees left at 11 p.m., he 
     said, they often asked him whether he ever got a night off. 
     Zavala, identified by Federal agents as a cleaning immigrant 
     from Mexico, told the Wal-Mart workers that he and 4 others 
     employed by a cleaning contractor worked at the Wal-Mart in 
     Old Bridge every night of the year, except Christmas and New 
       Now Mr. Zavala feels cheated, saying he worked as hard as 
     he could pursuing the American dream, only to face an 
     immigration hearing that could lead to deportation for 
     himself, his wife, Eunice, and their 3 children, 10, 7, and 5 
     years old. He is one of 250 janitors employed by Wal-
     Mart contractors who were arrested at 60 Wal-Mart stores 
     before dawn on Thursday.

  Again, I think it is interesting that they waited until the stores 
were clean before they picked them up. They would not even consider 
offending Wal-Mart by having a dirty store for their workers. Maybe, 
you know, if these illegal immigrants were not hired and Wal-Mart gave 
these people workable wages, maybe they would hire other people--maybe 
people who were legal immigrants. But Wal-Mart can sell stuff pretty 
cheap because they don't pay them anything; they have no health care 
benefits, no retirement benefits. So they get by pretty cheaply.
  I think it was nice of Immigration and Naturalization to wait until 
they cleaned the stores before they picked them up. That would give the 
contractor time to go find some other cheap labor. Maybe for a while 
they will have to pay a little more than what they were paying. Wal-
Mart is great for low prices but the low prices are also given to their 
  Most Wal-Mart employees--we have seen things written about this 
recently--have no health benefits, no retirement benefits, and no 
vacation benefits. They work for very low wages and most of the time 
not for 40 hours. They make sure they don't because they might be 
allowed some kind of benefits.

       ``My family is not happy about this,'' Mr. Zavala said. He 
     said he paid $2,000 to smuggle him into the U.S. 3 years ago. 
     ``My children don't want to leave and go back to Mexico.''

  I am sure that is true.

       A Federal law enforcement official who spoke on condition 
     of anonymity, said yesterday that several current and 
     contract cleaning contractors for Wal-Mart, the Nation's 
     biggest retailer, were cooperating with the Government in its 
     investigation. On Thursday, Federal officials acknowledged 
     that they had wiretaps and recordings of conversations in 
     meetings among Wal-Mart executives and contractors. Federal 
     officials said as part of the Thursday raid, they searched 
     the office of midlevel management at Wal-Mart headquarters in 
     Bentonville, AR. Officials said the Government believed that 
     Wal-Mart executives knew the cleaning contractors were using 
     illegal immigrants.
  Of course they did.

       Federal officials noted that 102 illegal immigrants working 
     for Wal-Mart cleaning contractors had been arrested in 1998, 
     2001, and 13 Wal-Mart cleaning contractors had pleaded guilty 
     after those arrests. Those pleas remain under court seal. 
     Wal-Mart said yesterday it had begun an internal 
     investigation and would dismiss anybody who did not have 
     proper immigration papers. Wal-Mart also told its officials 
     to preserve any documents that might be relevant to the 
     Federal inquiry.

  Isn't that nice?

       Wal-Mart officials said the raid surprised them.

  I'll bet.

       They acknowledged yesterday that 10 immigrants arrested on 
     Thursday in Arizona and Kentucky were employed directly by 
     Wal-Mart. The company officials said they brought these 
     workers in-house after certain stores phased out the use of 
     contractors for whom the immigrants had worked. Wal-Mart 
     officials also said the company required contractors to hire 
     legal workers only.

  Well, I say that Wal-Mart is involved in this, and I think it is an 
indication of why they can sell stuff so cheaply. They do it under the 
auspices of low prices.

[ ... ] 

[ End]