AILA Doc No. 97111459 | Dated November 14, 1997
AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
1400 Eye St. NW, Suite 1200
Washington, D.C. 20005
For Immediate Release:
November 14, 1997
Contact: Jeanne A. Butterfield
or Judith Golub (202) 371-9377
Republicans in Congress Send Mixed Messages on Immigration
Washington, D.C. Despite Senate support for a permanent extension of Section 245(i) and an overwhelming vote on the floor of the House of Representatives in opposition to eliminating this vital provision, Congress today only partially extended this program. The Republican leadership had the opportunity to permanently extend Section 245(i). Unfortunately, the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, led by Reps. Lamar Smith (TX), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), and Brian Bilbray (CA), succeeded in intimidating enough of their colleagues to block a permanent extension.
House Democrats, led by Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (MO) and Reps. Howard Berman (CA) and David Obey (WI), were among the strongest supporters of the provision. Because of their hard work and the support of a substantial number of Republicans lead by Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Section 245(i) was extended beyond its original sunset date of September 30, 1997. Due to the concerns raised by the immigrant and business communities, pro- immigration advocates, and Congressional supporters in both parties, the restrictionists in Congress were forced to offer significant concessions that will allow people with existing U.S. family and business ties to adjust their status in this country, as long as they file qualifying petitions with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) by January 14, 1998. The deal also would allow employment-based applicants in the future to adjust in this county if they have not been out of status for more than an aggregate of 180 days.
"While we believe Section 245(i) merited permanent extension, it is significant that Republican leadership recognized at the end of this debate that they needed to provide some important concessions. Otherwise, they would risk being labeled as anti-family and anti- business," said Jeanne A. Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director. "That, plus determined support from the Administration, helped secure these important concessions," concluded Butterfield.
"The Republican leadership today was done a disservice by Lamar Smith and Dana Rohrabacher," said Judith Golub, AILA’s Director of Advocacy. Pointing to the numerous distortions and outright lies put out by Reps. Smith, Rohrabacher, and others, Golub said, "While the concessions we obtained are important, Republicans needlessly shot themselves in the foot. They were on the verge of proving to America and immigration communities nationwide that Republicans care about immigrants. Despite the good efforts of Rep. Diaz- Balart and fellow Republicans like Reps. Ben Gilman (NY), Chris Smith (NJ), and Henry Hyde (IL), restrictionist Republicans, while forced to agree to the concessions, had too much influence over the final outcome. Republicans thereby did not demonstrate commitment to "family" values, that would keep parents together with their children and husbands with their wives, and the needs of business to compete in a global economy."
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 97111459.