The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will now resume consideration of the conference report accompanying S. 735, which the clerk will report.
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
A conference report to accompany S. 735, an act to prevent and punish acts of terrorism and for other purposes.
The Senate resumed the consideration of the conference report.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I move to recommit the conference report on the bill S. 735 to the committee of conference with instructions to the managers on the part of the Senate to disagree to the conference substitute recommended by the committee of conference and insist on striking the text of section 414 (relating to summary exclusion), section 422 (relating to modification of asylum procedures) and section 423 (relating to preclusion of judicial review) from the conference substitute.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. There are 30 minutes on the motion, to be equally divided.
Who yields time?
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I yield myself 6 minutes.
Mr. President, I will ask for the yeas and nays on this at the appropriate time but, I understand that the distinguished chairman of the committee is on his way to the floor. I would not make such a request until he was on the floor.
I am not taking this action lightly. I understand there is a real concern on motions to recommit, but this is a very, very serious matter.
I understand the symbolism of trying to have this conference report adopted by the House on the 1-year anniversary of the terrible bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City and, for that matter, the 3-year anniversary of the tragic end of the siege near Waco. It is one thing to say we want to schedule a resolution or sense of the Congress to coincide with a memorial day but here we are talking about a very significant piece of legislation. While I think that all of us abhor what happened in Oklahoma--certainly, no sane American could take any pleasure in what happened in the tragedy in Oklahoma City--we also have a responsibility as U.S. Senators, no matter which party we belong to, to pass the best law we can. After all, that is what the American people expect.
The vast majority of Americans are opposed to terrorism, terrorism of any sort, and they assume that their elected officials, both Republicans and Democrats, are going to pass good anti-terrorism legislation. If it takes a day or two more to get it right, then let us take the day or two more. We are doing this for a nation of 250 million Americans, a very powerful nation, threatened by terrorism.
The Senate passed S. 735 on June 6, 1995, almost a year ago. The House only considered its version last month. The conference committee apparently met a couple of evenings ago, and we were handed the conference report yesterday with instructions to pass it post haste. Having seen almost 10 months elapse since the Senate passed this bill, I hope we take time to at least to read the conference report. And, I dare suggest, there are not five Senators in here who have even read the conference report or have the foggiest notion of what it is they are voting on.
This is what we are talking about. We are talking about a bill being rushed through here about antiterrorism, because we are all against terrorists. But I am willing to bet my farm in Middlesex, VT, you are not going to find 5 to 10 Senators in this body who have read every word of this conference report.
In particular, my motion to recommit concerns profound changes to our asylum process that were not previously considered by the Senate in our deliberations on antiterrorism last year. The provisions I am objecting to have nothing to do with preventing terrorism. That is one reason why they were not in the antiterrorism bill that we considered and passed last summer. These provisions were added in the conference.
They do not have to do with terrorism. I am asking only to strike sections 414, 422, and 423. These are general immigration matters. They should be in the immigration bill. They should not be in this antiterrorism bill.
I tried to amend these provisions during the Judiciary Committee consideration of the immigration bill. I failed on a tie vote. I circulated a `Dear Colleague' earlier this week, making clear my intention to try to change this. These provisions are bad policy. They are going to make bad law, and they are put in here for the first time in a conference report.
I disagree as well with the habeas corpus sections of the conference report, but at least we had the opportunity to debate and amend those provisions. The asylum rewrite was done in the dark of the night and it is being forced on us today. I think that is wrong.
Look no further than the front page of the New York Times on Monday. You see the most recent example of why we must not adopt the summary exclusion provision in the bill. There is an article on the case of Fauziya Kasinga and her flight from Togo to avoid female genital mutilation. She has sought for 2 years to find sanctuary in this country, only to be detained, tear-gassed, beaten, isolated and abused--not in some distant land, but the United States of America. The case has outraged women and men all over this country.
What you may not know is that the conference report that we have before us would summarily exclude Ms. Kasinga from ever having made an asylum claim, a claim that I hope, based on the reported facts, is going to be granted without her enduring more suffering. You see she traveled from Germany coming to America, and traveled on a false British passport in order to escape mutilation in Togo.
Under the legislation before us, she would be out. `Tough. Go back and get mutilated. We do not care. We have a law--that none of us ever saw, none of us ever debated, none of us ever spent time on--that allows for your summary exclusion. You are out.'
Fidel Castro's daughter is another recent example of a refugee who came here using a disguise and phony Spanish passport to seek asylum. She came through Spain. Under the provisions of this bill, she might have been turned away at the border after a summary interview by a low-level immigration officer. We all know that there are political reasons why Fidel Castro's daughter should be granted asylum. Under the provisions of the conference report before us, slipped into the bill in the middle of the night, are barriers that could make that impossible.
I yield myself 2 more minutes.
In my `Dear Colleague' letter on my proposed amendment to these sections in the immigration bill and in the additional views I filed with the committee report on the immigration bill I also recall victims of the Holocaust and their use of false identification provided by the brave diplomats Raoul Wallenberg and Chiune Sugihara during World War II. Think of Oskar Schindler, think of 'Schindler's List.' These are the kind of things that we need to consider before adopting this conference report.
My concern is not to defend alien smuggling or false documentation or terrorists, but to acknowledge that there are some circumstances and oppressive regimes in the world where, if you are going to escape, you may well need to rely on false papers.
It would be ironic if we were to pass these provisions on an antiterrorism bill that would prohibit victims of terror, torture, and oppression around the world from seeking refuge in this, the world's greatest democracy.
I hope that the United States will not abandon its historic role as a refuge for the oppressed and persecuted. Our country is a beacon of hope and freedom, let it not be extinguished. Let us not abandon our leadership role in international human rights. Let us not abandon the world's true refugees, let us not restrict the due process that protects the people who look to us for asylum. Unfortunately, the impact of the provisions in this bill would be to deny refugees any opportunity to claim political asylum and would, instead, summarily exclude them from the United States and send them back to their persecutors without a hearing, without due process protections, without assistance to help them describe their plight and without judicial review of any kind.
Sections 421 and 422 of the conference report prohibit an asylum claim by refugees who enter this country with false identification. I could understand that we might want to consider as potentially relevant factors to an asylum claim that the refugee arrived with false documents and the route that the refugee traveled to get here. But those factors should not be dispositive. The examples to which I have previously alluded indicate that there are times when the use of false documentation is not something that we would want to punish. I fear that the bill goes too far and sends the wrong signal by putting the burden on the refugee, without counsel and in a summary proceeding, to establish that the person is the exception and to create a clear record of `credible fear' and that it was necessary to present the false document to depart from the persecuting country.
The Committee to Preserve Asylum has sent each of us a letter outlining the ways in which similar provisions in the immigration bill would harm human rights and endanger refugees. In their April 8 letter supporting the Leahy amendment they outline cases in which these provisions would have been disastrous.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees sent our chairman a letter dated March 6 objecting to these provisions as inconsistent with the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees and remains critical of the bill.
The asylum process was reorganized and reformed in January 1994. The bill fails to take these changes into account. In fact, in 1995 asylum claims decreased greatly and were being timely processed. Only 20 percent were granted. Thus, the bill's provisions are a bad solution in search of a problem. The INS and Department of Justice report that they have matters in hand.
The Department of Justice counsels that we should allow immigration judges rather than asylum officers to make these determinations. Under the circumstances, I believe that we have moved too far too fast and allowed a few cases from the distant past to create bad law.
The asylum provisions in the bill would place undue burdens on unsophisticated refugees who are truly in need of sanctuary but may not be able to explain their situation to an overworked asylum officer. The bill would establish summary exclusion procedures and invest low-level immigration officers with unprecedented authority to deport refugees without allowing them a fair opportunity to establish a valid claim to asylum. Even before being permitted to apply for asylum, refugees who flee persecution without valid documents, would be met with a series of procedural hurdles virtually impossible to understand or overcome.
This is a radical departure from current procedures that afford an asylum hearing before an immigration judge during which an applicant may be represented by counsel, may be cross-examined and present witnesses, and after which review is available by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Such hearings have been vitally important to refugees who may face torture, imprisonment or death as a result of an initial, erroneous decision by an INS official. Indeed, human rights organizations have documented a number of cases of people who were ultimately granted political asylum by immigration judges after the INS denied their release from INS detention for not meeting a `credible fear' standard. Under the summary screening proposed in the bill conference report, these refugees would have been sent back to their persecutors without an opportunity for a hearing.
Under international law, an individual may be denied an opportunity to prove an asylum claim only if the claim is `manifestly unfounded.' This bill would establish a summary screening mechanism that utilizes a `credible fear' standard without meaning or precedent in international law. These summary exclusion provisions have been criticized by international human rights organizations and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Furthermore, the proposed legislation would deny the Federal courts their historic role in overseeing the implementation of our immigration laws and review of individual administrative decisions. The bill would allow no judicial review whether a person is actually excludable. These proposals thereby portent a fundamental change in the role of our coordinate branches of Government and a dangerous precedent.
Besides being fundamentally unfair to a traumatized and fatigued refugee, who would be allowed no assistance and no interpreter, the proposed summary screening process would impose a burdensome and costly diversion of INS resources. In 1995 for example, only 3,287 asylum seekers arrived without valid documents--hardly the tens of thousands purported to justify these changes. The bill would require that a phalanx of specially trained asylum officers be created and posted at airports, sea ports and other ports of entry across the country to be available to conduct summary screening at the border. There is simply no need to divert these resources in this way when the asylum process has already been brought under control.
There are no exigent circumstances that require this Nation to turn its back on its traditional role as a refuge from oppression and to resort to summary exclusion processes. Neither the Department of Justice nor the INS support these provisions or believe them necessary.
I urge my colleagues to reject this gutting of our asylum laws and support the motion to recommit.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum and ask unanimous consent that it not be charged to my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will call the roll.
The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, regarding the motion to recommit the conference report by the distinguished Senator from Vermont, now, look, this bill is a tough bipartisan measure. Stated simply, it is a landmark piece of legislation. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle know it. We have crafted a bill that puts the Nation's interests above partisan politics.
Some of my colleagues however have criticized this bill for not being tough enough on terrorists. In truth, many oppose this bill because it is too tough on vicious, convicted murderers--not my friend from Vermont, but others. My colleagues are aware that this motion to recommit will not improve the bill. Instead, if it passes it will scuttle the antiterrorism bill. In other words, it will kill it.
Accordingly, on behalf of Senator Dole and myself, I move to table the pending motion and ask for the yeas and nays.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, would the Senator withhold just a moment?
Mr. HATCH. I will be happy to withhold.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, as I understand it, we are under a time agreement. Such a motion would not be in order until--or at least a vote on such a motion would not be in order until all time is either used or yielded back. Am I correct?
Mr. HATCH. I thought maybe the Senator had used his time.
I withdraw my request.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion would not be in order until the time is used or yielded back.
Mr. LEAHY. If the Senator asks unanimous consent to make his motion to get the yeas and nays on it now, to be done at the expiration of time or yielding back----
Mr. HATCH. We can wait until then.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, would the Senator yield further, on my time?
Mr. HATCH. I certainly do.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Vermont.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a letter from the Committee to Preserve Asylum and various attachments in support of my amendment, signed by the American Friends Service Committee, the American Jewish Committee, Amnesty International, Associated Catholic Charities of New Orleans, Jesuit Social Ministries, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Indian Law Resource Center, and a number of others in support of my amendment be included in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Committee to Preserve Asylum,
Washington, DC, April 8, 1996.
Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
Russell Senate Office Building,
Dear Senator Leahy: We are an ad hoc coalition of religious groups, human rights organizations, concerned physicians, and immigration and civil rights advocates that have come together to oppose the new bars to applying for asylum contained in S. 269.
The right to seek asylum is an internationally recognized human right, incorporated into U.S. law by Congress in the 1980 Refugee Act. It protects individuals fleeing persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Each year the U.S. grants asylum to about 8,000 people, less than 1% of legal immigrants. The new bars to asylum contained in S. 269, the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act, would seriously undermine human rights protections for these bona fide refugees.
The new bars to asylum, found in sections 133 and 193 of the bill, would give low level immigration officers the authority to exclude and deport without a fair hearing refugees who were forced to flee persecution without valid travel documents. For reasons illustrated in the attached documents, this section would effectively deny asylum to many human rights victims. It will also cost more money. Senator Leahy will offer an amendment on the Senate floor that will preserve procedural protections for people escaping religious and political persecution.
We urge you to vote for the Leahy amendment.
American Civil Liberties Union.
American Friends Service Committee.
American Jewish Committee.
Amigos de los Sobrevivientes.
Associated Catholic Charities of New Orleans.
Asylum and Refugee Rights Law Project, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
Ayuda, Inc., Washington, DC.
Center for Immigrants Rights, Inc.
Central American Resource Center--CARECEN of Washington, DC.
Central America Political Asylum Project, American Friends Service Committee, Miami, FL.
Church World Services Immigration and Refugee Program.
Columban Fathers' Justice & Peace Office.
Comite Hispano de Virginia.
Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees.
Committee to Protect Journalists.
Council of Jewish Federations.
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, CA.
El Centro Hispanoamericano.
FIRN, Inc. (Foreign-born Information and Referral Network).
Friends Committee on National Legislation.
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Protection.
Immigrant and Refugee Services of America.
Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
Indian Law Resource Center.
International Institute of Boston.
International Institute of Los Angeles.
Jesuit Social Ministries.
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Las Americas Refugee Asylum Project.
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture.
Mennonite Central Committee.
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights.
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.
Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.
North Texas Immigration Coalition.
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Physicians for Human Rights.
Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project, Boston College Law School.
Proyecto San Pablo.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.
Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees, OR.
Union of Council of Soviet Jews.
U.S. Committee for Refugees.
Vietnamese Association of Illinois.
VIVE, Inc., An Organization for World Refugees.
Sections 133 and 193 of S. 269, the Immigration Control and Financial Responsibility Act, would give low-level immigration officers the authority to deport back to their persecutors refugees who were forced to flee persecution without valid travel documents. The new bars to asylum would punish people whose only means of fleeing repressive governments is by using invalid travel documents.
Many true refugees are forced to flee persecution without valid travel documents either because they do not have time to acquire them or because applying for them would threaten their lives.
Under current law, a person who arrives in the United States without valid travel documents and fears persecution in his or her home country may go before an immigration judge and prove eligibility for asylum. The asylum seeker may be represented at the hearing at no cost to the government.
The new bars to asylum would preclude such a person from even applying for asylum until he or she has proven that he or she has a `credible fear' of persecution and used the invalid travel documents to flee directly from a country where there is a `significant danger' of being returned to persecution. This all may have to be proven immediately after a stressful journey, and without the assistance of counsel or an interpreter, and without the involvement of any judicial or quasi-judicial officer.
The new bars and summary procedures are problematic for several reasons.
A `false papers' rule would harm human rights victims. By definition, asylum seekers frequently fear persecution by the government of their home country--the same government that issues travel documents and checks identity papers and exit permits at the airports and border crossings. It should be recalled that the United States has long honored Raoul Wallenberg, who saved countless lives during the Holocaust by issuing unofficial travel documents so that refugees could flee further persecution.
Meritorious asylum seekers would be returned to persecution. The INS has made serious errors while trying to apply the `credible fear' test. Under current law, asylum seekers who arrive in the U.S. without valid travel documents are detained pending their hearing unless they prove a `credible fear' of persecution in their home country. Human rights organizations have documented many cases in which people were denied parole under this standard, but later were granted asylum at their hearing before an immigration judge. Under the new bars to asylum, they would have been returned to persecution. A summary of some of these case studies is attached.
The Department of Justice opposes the new bars to asylum. Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick wrote in her February 14 letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch that the Justice Department opposes sections 133/193, noting that `Absent smuggling or an extraordinary migration situation, we can handle asylum applications for excludable aliens under our regular procedures.'
The new bars would deny protection to refugees who had to change planes on route to the United States. Before being able to apply for asylum, a refugee who used false documents would have to prove that they were needed to leave her country or to transit through another country. This requirement would prejudice both asylum seekers who flee countries that do not have direct carrier routes to the U.S. and those who must travel over land through countries that do not have asylum laws, that may be friendly with the government they are fleeing, or that are hostile to people of their background or nationality. Refugees from Asian and African countries in particular face this situation.
The new bars to asylum are inconsistent with U.S. obligations under international law and will inevitably lead to errors. The new bars lack the minimal procedural safeguards to prevent the mistaken return of a genuine refugee to certain persecution. The UNHCR `fears that many bona fide refugees will be returned to countries where their lives or freedom will be threatened' if the new bars to asylum become law. (Letter to Sen. Hatch, Chairman Judiciary Cmte, March 6, 1996).
Bob, a student at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, was an active member of the Democratic Unionist Party, an anti-government organization. After participating in a peaceful student protest, he was arrested by the Sudanese government. He was detained in a 6 by 11 foot cell with 10 other prisoners for 2 months. During his imprisonment, he was repeatedly interrogated and tortured--he was hung by his hands and feet, beaten and electrically shocked. As a result of the torture, his elbows are permanently deformed. He remained active in the democratic movement after his release from prison. Then, as he was walking to a democratic union meeting, he was again arrested and imprisoned. A few months later, while he was still in prison, he suffered a nervous breakdown because of the torture he suffered. He was transferred to a hospital, but remained under arrest. Wearing a nurse's uniform that his mother had smuggled into the hospital, Bob escaped from imprisonment.
Bob's colleagues from the democratic union smuggled him onto a freighter bound for Germany. In Germany, he borrowed another person's ID card to leave the ship. Knowing that the anti-immigration and NeoNazi movement in Germany had heightened and that it would be impossible to receive asylum there, Bob flew from Germany to the United States. He arrived without a passport. When he exited the plane, he immediately told the INS that he wanted to apply for asylum. He was placed in detention. Bob was not released from detention because the INS interviewer determined he did not have a `credible fear' of persecution. He was granted asylum by an immigration judge.
Alan, an Indian national, had been persecuted in Kashmir because of his religion. On several occasions, he and his family members were imprisoned and tortured by the Indian government. In July 1994 when the military police sought to detain him, he evaded arrest. A few months later his family's home was bombed.
Fearing for his life, Alan fled to the United States using a false passport. He told the INS he wanted asylum immediately. He explained to the INS officials that he and his family had been persecuted by the Indian government. The INS officers at the airport did not think he was credible. The officials verbally abused Alan and denied him food and water until he was brought to a detention center the next day. Alan was not released from detention because the INS did not think he had a credible fear of persecution even though he presented the INS with reports about religious persecution in Kashmir. Alan was later granted asylum by an immigration judge.
Sam, a Nigerian national, was an active member of a pro-democracy organization that was determined to ensure democratic elections in Nigeria. Shortly before the elections, the leader of the democracy organization was found murdered, and several members were arrested and subsequently disappeared. The State Secret Service went to Sam's house on election day searching for him. When Sam learned that the secret service was searching for him, he immediately went into hiding, afraid that if they found him, he too would `disappear' as his colleagues had.
Sam fled to the United States right out of hiding. He changed planes in Amsterdam. He traveled with a false U.S. passport. He was afraid that the Nigerian government would arrest him if he tried to leave the country with his own identification papers. When he arrived in the United States, he immediately told the INS that he wanted asylum. He was placed in detention. The INS interviewed him to determine whether he had a credible fear of persecution; the INS concluded that he did not. He was granted asylum by a federal court.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I also ask unanimous consent that a letter from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in support be included in the Record.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
High Commissioner for Refugees,
Washington, DC, March 19, 1996.
Re Special Exclusion Provisions of S. 269.
Hon. Patrick Leahy,
Dear Senator Leahy: I wish to express UNHCR's sincere appreciation for your efforts during the 14 March Judiciary Committee mark-up session to remove the special exclusion provisions of S. 269. These provisions, found in Sections 133, 141 and 193 of the bill, would almost certainly result in the U.S. returning bona fide refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened.
As noted in my 6 March letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, we offer our views regarding S. 269 with the hope that you and the other members of the Judiciary Committee will seek to adhere to the standards and principles set forth in the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, to which the U.S. acceded in 1968.
In particular, UNHCR is concerned with the following special exclusion provisions:
(1) Lack of due process--Sections 133, 141 and 193 provide few procedural safeguards to ensure that true refugees are not erroneously returned to persecution.
(a) No administrative review--Under Section 141, special exclusion orders are not subject to administrative review (p. IB-4, line 19). Minimum procedural guidelines for refugee status determinations specify that an applicant should be given a reasonable time to appeal for a formal reconsideration of the decision. This principle is set forth in UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 8 (1977).
The `prompt supervisory review' provided for in Section 193 (p. IC-36, line 12) does not meet these minimum procedural guidelines.
The UNHCR Executive Committee is a group of representatives from 50 countries, including the United States, that provides policy and guidance to UNHCR in the exercise of its refugee protection mandate.
(b) Limitation on access to counsel--Under Section 193, asylum-seekers arriving at US ports of entry with false documents or no documents are permitted to consult with a person of their choosing, only if such consultation does `not delay the process' (p. IC-36, line 25). Such a limitation is in violation of the principle that applicants for asylum should be given the necessary facilities for submitting his/her case to the authorities, including the services of a competent interpreter and the opportunity to contact a representative of UNHCR (UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 8 (1977)).
(2) Limitation on access to asylum--Section 193 provides that individuals presenting false or no documents or who are escorted to the US from a vessel at sea are not permitted to apply for asylum unless they traveled to the US from a country of claimed persecution and that the false document used, if any, was necessary to depart from the country of claimed persecution. UNHCR requests the US to remove this limitation and to adhere to international principles which provide as follows:
(a) `[A]sylum should not be refused solely on the ground that it could be sought from another State. Where, however, it appears that a person, before requesting asylum, already has a connexion or close links with another State, he may if it appears fair and reasonable be called upon first to request asylum from that State' (UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 15 (1979) (emphasis added)).
(b) When refugees and asylum-seekers move in an irregular manner (without proper documentation) from a country where they have already found protection, they may be returned to that country if, in addition to being protected against refoulement (i.e. protected against return to a country where their lives or freedom would be threatened), they are treated in accordance with `recognized basic human standards' (UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 58 (1989)). UNHCR is prepared to assist in practical arrangement for the readmission and reception of such persons, consistent with these international standards.
(3) Credible fear standard--Sections 133, 141 and 193 create a new, heightened threshold standard that asylum-seekers must meet before they are permitted to present their claims in a hearing before an immigration judge. Under these sections, asylum-seekers who are brought or escorted to the US from a vessel at sea (Sections 133 and 141), who have entered the US without inspection, but have not resided in the US for two years or more (Section 141), who arrive during an `extraordinary migration situation' (Section 141) or who arrive at a port of entry with false documents or no documents (Section 193) must first establish a `credible fear' of persecution before they are permitted to present their claims in an asylum hearing before an immigration judge. UNHCR urges the adoption of a `manifestly unfounded' or `clearly abusive' standard which would reduce the risk that a bona fide refugee is erroneously returned to a country where s/he has a well-founded fear of persecution. This international standard for expeditious refugee status determinations is set forth in UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 30 (1983).
We are hopeful that you will support the elimination of a deadline for filing asylum applications. Failure to submit a request within a certain time limit should not lead to an asylum request being excluded from consideration (UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion No. 15 (1979)). Under this international principle, the US is obliged to protect refugees from return to danger regardless of whether a filing deadline has been met.
Again, I thank you for your efforts to ensure that refugees are protected from return to countries of persecution. Please do not hesitate to contact my Office if UNHCR may be of any further assistance to you, your staff or other members of the Committee.
Anne Willem Bijleveld,
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am not in any way trying to derail this bill. I am just saying that this is something that was tucked into it in the middle of the night. Nobody ever had a chance to debate it. It is in here. And it is going to make it impossible, or nearly impossible, for anyone from Fidel Castro's sister to somebody escaping torture and religious persecution to come to the United States, if traveling through a second country or traveling with a false passport to do it.
That makes no sense. That is not an antiterrorist situation. Look at `Schindler's List.' Remember Raoul Wallenberg. Think about those who escaped persecution by using false passports as a way they could get out of the country. They may well have to go through an intermediate country to get to the greatest nation of freedom on Earth. Just because somebody slipped these provisions into the conference report, let us not go along with it. This is something that should be debated.
Our own Department of Justice does not support these provisions of the bill. I think in fact the Justice Department reiterated their opposition to them in an April 16 letter on similar provisions in the immigration bill to the majority leader. Deputy Attorney General Gorelick wrote us, `absent smuggling or an extraordinary migration situation, we can handle asylum applications for excludable aliens under our regular procedures.'
I reserve the balance of my time and yield to the Senator from Utah.
Mr. HATCH addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Utah.
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I do not really have anything more to say other than this is a very important piece of legislation. It is a key piece of legislation. It is desired by almost everybody who wants to do anything against terrorism. It is effective and strong. Even though we acknowledge we do not have everything everybody wants in this bill, it is a darn good bill that will make a real difference. If this motion or any motion to recommit passes, this bill is dead, it will be killed. So we simply have to defeat any and all motions to recommit. I will move to table the amendment at the appropriate time. I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time on this amendment.
Mr. BIDEN addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Delaware.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, the Senator from Utah, the distinguished chairman of the committee, keeps referencing that----
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator from Vermont yield time to the Senator from Delaware?
Mr. LEAHY. Yes. I understand I have about 4 minutes. I yield 2 minutes to the Senator from Delaware.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, the Senator from Utah keeps saying anything will kill this bill. That is not true. This is not `kill this bill.' If we send this back to conference for one or two or 12 amendments it does not kill this bill. Every major bill we had, including the crime bill, we sent back to conference with instructions--at least on three occasions. This will not kill this bill.
Some of this has not been well thought out. Much of what we left out of the bill, I am convinced, on reconsideration by our friends in the House, they would change their view. But I want to make it clear, I do not believe there is any evidence to suggest that sending this back to conference with specific instructions would kill the bill.
I am prepared, if the chairman and if Senator Leahy is, to yield back. I yield the floor.
Mr. LEAHY addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Chair recognizes the Senator from Vermont.
Mr. LEAHY. Does the Senator from California care to speak on this?
Mrs. BOXER. No. I am waiting for the next motion.
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I thought Senator Kennedy wished to speak on this.
I am ready to yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HATCH. I am prepared to yield back the balance of my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has been yielded back.
Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending Leahy motion to recommit be temporarily set aside with the vote to occur on or in relation to the Leahy motion after completion of debate on the next motion to recommit.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. HATCH. Senators should be aware there will be two consecutive rollcall votes following completion of all debate on the next motion.
Mr. President, I also ask unanimous consent to move to table the Leahy amendment and ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be.
The yeas and nays were ordered.