AILA Letter on 245(i) to the White House

April 30, 2001

Dear President Bush:

April 30 is an important date, marking the first 100 days of your Administration and the last day immigrants can file to maintain their eligibility for an important immigration provision. During these 100 days, your Administration did not address issues of vital importance to immigrant communities nationwide. We urge you to take concrete, positive steps during the second 100 days to support the following:

  • Extend and Restore Section 245(i): April 30 also marks the last date a person can file a petition or application with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to preserve eligibility under Section 245(i). (Section 245(i) allows eligible people  to adjust their status in this country. It is vitally important given the three and ten-year bars that were included in the harsh, 1996 immigration laws. Section 245(i) is pro-family, pro-business, good policy, and makes fiscal sense.) Eligible people have struggled to file their petitions by April 30. However, we know that many will be unable to benefit from Section 245(i) because there insufficient attorneys and authorized legal service organizations available to handle theses cases by April 30. We urge Congress to immediately pass an extension of this vitally needed provision. To date, three bills have been introduced, two in the House (H.R. 1242 by Representative Peter King (R-NY) and H.R. 1195 by Charles Rangel (D-NY), and one in the Senate, S.778 by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA). While vitally important, extending 245(i) is a temporary solution. We urge you to support the permanent restoration of Section 245(i).

  • Reorganize the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS): Both the Administration and Congress recognize the need to reorganize the INS. To be successful, such reorganization should fulfill the following criteria: Put someone in charge with clout; separate, but coordinate, the enforcement and adjudications functions; and provide adequate resources to fund the adjudications function. In addition, the long backlogs at the INS need to be significantly reduced prior to any successful reorganization implementation. We expect that bills that seek to reorganize the INS shortly will be introduced in Congress. We urge you to base your support for these measures on their fulfilling the criteria noted above.

  • Implement Due Process Reform: The harsh 1996 immigration laws need to be changed because they violate core American principles of law, justice, and fairness. These laws lack proportionality, subjecting legal, long-term permanent residents to deportation for minor offenses, often committed decades earlier. These laws operate retroactively, changing the rules in the middle of the game. By prohibiting judicial review and discretion, they do not allow people their day in court. In short, the 1996 immigration laws are un-American. Two bills have been introduced in the House that address these concerns: H.R.87 introduced by Representative Filner and H.R. 1452, introduced by Representative Barney Frank. Other bills in the House and Senate are expected to be introduced shortly. We urge you to support these measures that address these harsh laws and prevent families from being torn apart.

  • Support Essential Workers: Our country is experiencing a labor shortage, especially in the service sector. This shortage is expected to last for more than two decades. At the same time, service sector employers are seeking to regularize the status of currently undocumented workers to stabilize their labor forces. We urge you to support legislation that would create workable and new temporary nonimmigrant visa programs, additional green cards for essential workers, as well as earned adjustment for undocumented workers who are in the labor force, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy.

We urge you to take steps during the next 100 days to positively address these important issues, and hope that you will use AILA as a resource as your Administration takes up these important measures.


Jeanne Butterfield
Executive Director


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 01043057.