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Public Statements

Reauthorizing Certain Visa Programs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I do rise in strong support of this bill. Specifically, this bill extends until September 30, 2015, these four longstanding immigration programs that are set to expire otherwise at the end of this month. They are valuable programs, and they serve different purposes.

The one, the Special Immigrant Nonminister Religious Worker Program, allows religious workers to enter the United States to do important work. There are 5,000 religious workers eligible for these visas each year when they are called to a vocation or are in a traditional religious occupation with a bona fide nonprofit religious organization. They are missionaries, counselors, instructors, and pastoral care providers. They really help our country.

The second program, the Conrad ``J Waiver,'' helps medically underserved communities attract highly skilled physicians. This program literally provides a lifeline for communities that desperately need doctors who received their medical training in the United States. It is absolutely necessary that this program continues to exist so that States can attract medical talent and can keep the doors of small town clinics open.

The third program, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, allocates 3,000--out of the EB-5 category's 10,000--visas each year for EB-5 investors who invest in these designated regional centers. This pilot program is important to our Nation's economy as it represents, actually, billions of dollars in aggregate immigrant investment, and it creates more than 20,000 new direct and indirect jobs each year.

The final program that would be extended under the bill is E-Verify, the basic pilot program first authorized in 1996. Now, Chairman Smith and I disagree on how effective this bill is. I don't believe it's ready for mandatory nationwide use because of errors in the system and, more broadly, because of major dysfunctions in our immigration system, but that doesn't mean I disagree that this program should be extended. I do. This program is voluntary, and by extending the E-Verify program as it currently exists, it will provide Congress additional time to work toward improving the program and fixing our Nation's immigration laws so that they work for American families, businesses, and the economy as a whole.

I should note that this bill received unanimous support in the Senate. Likewise, I hope that all of my colleagues in this Chamber will support this bipartisan legislation so that it can be quickly sent to the President's desk for his signature.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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