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Public Statements

For the Relief of Shigeru Yamada

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. CHU. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

S. 4010 is an immigration relief bill for Shigeru Yamada. The House passed a substantially identical version of this bill by voice vote in the 110th Congress, but the Senate was unable to take up the measure. I am pleased to see that the House will have an opportunity to vote on final passage today.

Shigeru was brought to the United States from Japan when he was 10 years old. Together with his mother and his two sisters, Shigeru entered the country on a non-immigrant visa and remained in the United States for over 3 years on his mother's student visa. During this period, Shigeru's mother became engaged to a U.S. citizen. Had she married her fiance, she and her children would have been able to obtain lawful permanent residence in the country. However, in September 1995, when Shigeru was only 13 years old, his mother was killed in a car accident.

After his mother's death, Shigeru and his sisters were raised by their maternal aunt and uncle in Chula Vista, California. Shigeru's natural father was an alcoholic who was physically abusive to Shigeru, his sisters, and their mother. There was no other viable caretaker in Japan.

Shigeru's aunt attempted to formally adopt him, but was unable to complete the adoption before his 16th birthday. Under current immigration law, virtually all adoptions of foreign children by U.S. citizens must be completed before the child's 16th birthday in order for the child to qualify for legal status in the United States. Although Shigeru's sisters obtained legal status through adoption and marriage, Shigeru continued to reside here without such status.

In the meantime, Shigeru became a model student, graduating from Eastlake High School with honors in 2010. At Eastlake, he served on student government, participated in numerous community service activities, and excelled at football and wrestling. He was an All-American Scholar and was named Outstanding English Student his freshman year. He was also voted the Most Inspirational Player of the Year in various sports, both at the junior varsity and varsity level. He served as vice president of the associated student body his senior year.

Shigeru also volunteered to coach the Eastlake High School softball team and obtained an associate's degree from Southwestern Community College.

It is through no fault of his own that Shigeru was raised in the United States without legal immigration status. Shigeru's mother died before she could regularize his status, and adoption proceedings by his aunt were completed too late to affect his immigration status. S. 4010 presents the only option for Shigeru to remain in the United States.

I commend Representative BOB FILNER and Senator DIANNE FEINSTEIN, who each introduced their first private immigration bill on Shigeru's behalf back in the 108th Congress. I would also like to recognize Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith for their help in moving this bill to the floor today.

I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.

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