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Public Statements

A Smarter Approach to the Border

Location: Washington, DC

A SMARTER APPROACH TO THE BORDER -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 16, 2005)

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2005

* Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, as California's Border Congressman, I rise today to deliver a simple yet important message to this Congress about how we handle affairs on our nation's southern border.

* To my fellow Members of Congress, I implore you: Don't block clinics that want to help Mexican children with severe medical needs. Don't block border schools from hosting their Mexican neighbors. And don't block our tourism industry from welcoming Mexican field trips. Instead, join me in supporting the VISA Act!

* Prior to September 11, 2001, the Valley Orthopedic Clinic in Calexico, California treated low-income Mexican children who suffered from cleft palates or other maladies. In fact, over forty years, they treated 125,000 children! The Port Directors at the border selectively issued humanitarian visa waivers so that these children could briefly visit the United States without paying for an unaffordable $100 visa.

* Since September 11, Port Directors have ceased issuing these visa waivers. As a result, children have been blocked from receiving specialized medical attention, participating in educational exchanges between border schools and taking field trips to tourist sites in border states.

* That's why I have re-introduced the Visitors Interested in Strengthening America (VISA) Act (H.R. 2367). The bill gives Port Directors the discretion to issue humanitarian visa waivers to Mexican children making brief, pre-scheduled visits to the U.S. for medical, educational or recreational purposes.

* In addition to clearing the way for American doctors who wish to provide specialized care to Mexican children, this bill would boost the economy in the border region and strengthen cultural and political understanding with Mexico.

* The bill is identical to legislation that the Border Trade Alliance, National Council of La Raza, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow and others supported in the 108th Congress.

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