[Congressional Bills 106th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[S. 2586 Introduced in Senate (IS)]







106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                S. 2586

    To reduce the backlog in the processing of immigration benefit 
 applications and to make improvements to infrastructure necessary for 
    the effective provision of immigration services, and for other 
                               purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                              May 18, 2000

Mrs. Feinstein (for herself, Mr. Abraham, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Jeffords, Mr. 
   Reid, Mr. Moynihan, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Graham, Mr. Durbin, and Mr. 
    DeWine) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and 
               referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
    To reduce the backlog in the processing of immigration benefit 
 applications and to make improvements to infrastructure necessary for 
    the effective provision of immigration services, and for other 
                               purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Immigration Services and 
Infrastructure Improvements Act of 2000''.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS AND PURPOSES.

    (a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) Applications for naturalization have increased 
        dramatically in recent years, outpacing the Immigration and 
        Naturalization Service's ability to process them.
            (2) The dramatic increase in applications for 
        naturalization and the inability of the Immigration and 
        Naturalization Service to deal with them adequately has 
        resulted in an unacceptably large backlog in naturalization 
        adjudications.
            (3) The processing times in the Immigration and 
        Naturalization Service's other immigration benefits have been 
        unacceptably long. Applicants for family- and employment-based 
        visas are waiting as long as 3 to 4 years to obtain a visa or 
        an adjustment to lawful permanent resident status.
            (4) In California, the delays in processing adjustment of 
        status applications have averaged 52 months. In Texas, the 
        delays have averaged 69 months. Residents of New York have had 
        to wait up to 28 months; in Florida, 26 months; in Illinois, 37 
        months; in Oregon, 31 months; and in Arizona, 49 months. Most 
        other States have experienced unacceptably long processing and 
        adjudication delays.
            (5) Applicants pay fees to have their applications 
        adjudicated in a timely manner. These fees have increased 
        dramatically in recent years without a commensurate increase in 
        the capability of that Immigration and Naturalization Service 
        to process and adjudicate these cases in an efficient manner.
            (6) Processing these applications in a timely fashion is 
        critical. Each 12-month delay in adjudicating an adjustment of 
        status application requires the alien to file applications to 
        extend employment authorization to work and advance parole 
        documents to travel.
            (7) The enormous delays in processing applications for 
        families and businesses have had a negative impact on the 
        reunification of spouses and minor children and the ability of 
        law-abiding and contributing members of our communities to 
        participate fully in the civic life of the United States.
            (8) United States employers have also experienced 
        debilitating delays in hiring employees who contribute to the 
        economic growth of the United States. These delays have forced 
        employers to send highly skilled and valued employees out of 
        the United States because their immigrant petitions were not 
        approved in a timely fashion. Such disruptions seriously 
        threaten the competitive edge of the United States in the 
        global marketplace.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to--
            (1) provide the Immigration and Naturalization Service with 
        the mechanisms it needs to eliminate the current backlog in the 
        processing of immigration benefit applications within 1 year 
        after enactment of this Act and to maintain the elimination of 
        the backlog in future years; and
            (2) provide for regular congressional oversight of the 
        performance of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 
        eliminating the backlog and processing delays in immigration 
        benefits adjudications.
    (c) Policy.--It is the sense of Congress that the processing of an 
immigration benefit application should be completed not later than 180 
days after the initial filing of the application, except that a 
petition for a nonimmigrant visa under section 214(c) of the 
Immigration and Nationality Act should be processed not later than 30 
days after the filing of the petition.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Backlog.--The term ``backlog'' means, with respect to 
        an immigration benefit application, the period of time in 
        excess of 180 days that such application has been pending 
        before the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
            (2) Immigration benefit application.--The term 
        ``immigration benefit application'' means any application or 
        petition to confer, certify, change, adjust, or extend any 
        status granted under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

SEC. 4. IMMIGRATION SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT ACCOUNT.

    (a) Authority of the Attorney General.--The Attorney General shall 
take such measures as may be necessary to--
            (1) reduce the backlog in the processing of immigration 
        benefit applications, with the objective of the total 
        elimination of the backlog not later than one year after the 
        date of enactment of this Act;
            (2) make such other improvements in the processing of 
        immigration benefit applications as may be necessary to ensure 
        that a backlog does not develop after such date; and
            (3) make such improvements in infrastructure as may be 
        necessary to effectively provide immigration services.
    (b) Authorization of Appropriations.--
            (1) In general.--There is authorized to be appropriated to 
        the Department of Justice from time to time such sums as may be 
        necessary for the Attorney General to carry out subsection (a).
            (2) Designation of account in treasury.--Amounts 
        appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) may be referred to as 
        the ``Immigration Services and Infrastructure Improvements 
        Account''.
            (3) Availability of funds.--Amounts appropriated pursuant 
        to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until 
        expended.
            (4) Limitation on expenditures.--None of the funds 
        appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) may be expended until 
        the report described in section 5(a) has been submitted to 
        Congress.

SEC. 5. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.

    (a) Backlog Elimination Plan.--
            (1) Report required.--Not later than 90 days after the date 
        of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall submit a 
        report to the Committees on the Judiciary and Appropriations of 
        the Senate and the House of Representatives concerning--
                    (A) the backlogs in immigration benefit 
                applications in existence as of the date of enactment 
                of this Act; and
                    (B) the Attorney General's plan for eliminating 
                such backlogs.
            (2) Report elements.--The report shall include--
                    (A) an assessment of the data systems used in 
                adjudicating and reporting on the status of immigration 
                benefit applications, including--
                            (i) a description of the adequacy of 
                        existing computer hardware, computer software, 
                        and other mechanisms to comply with the 
                        adjudications and reporting requirements of 
                        this Act; and
                            (ii) a plan for implementing improvements 
                        to existing data systems to accomplish the 
                        purpose of this Act, as described in section 
                        2(b);
                    (B) a description of the quality controls to be put 
                into force to ensure timely, fair, accurate, and 
                complete processing and adjudication of such 
                applications;
                    (C) the elements specified in subsection (b)(2);
                    (D) an estimate of the amount of appropriated funds 
                that would be necessary in order to eliminate the 
                backlogs in each category of immigration benefit 
                applications described in subsection (b)(2); and
                    (E) a detailed plan on how the Attorney General 
                will use any funds in the Immigration Services and 
                Infrastructure Improvements Account to comply with the 
                purposes of this Act.
    (b) Annual Reports.--
            (1) In general.--Beginning 90 days after the end of the 
        first fiscal year for which any appropriation authorized by 
        section 4(b) is made, and 90 days after the end of each fiscal 
        year thereafter, the Attorney General shall submit a report to 
        the Committees on the Judiciary and Appropriations of the 
        Senate and the House of Representatives concerning the status 
        of--
                    (A) the Immigration Services and Infrastructure 
                Improvements Account including any unobligated balances 
                of appropriations in the Account; and
                    (B) the Attorney General's efforts to eliminate 
                backlogs in any immigration benefit application 
                described in paragraph (2).
            (2) Report elements.--The report shall include--
                    (A) State-by-State data on--
                            (i) the number of naturalization cases 
                        adjudicated in each quarter of each fiscal 
                        year;
                            (ii) the average processing time for 
                        naturalization applications;
                            (iii) the number of naturalization 
                        applications pending for up to 6 months, 12 
                        months, 18 months, 24 months, 36 months, and 48 
                        months or more;
                            (iv) estimated processing times 
                        adjudicating newly submitted naturalization 
                        applications;
                            (v) an analysis of the appropriate 
                        processing times for naturalization 
                        applications; and
                            (vi) the additional resources and process 
                        changes needed to eliminate the backlog for 
                        naturalization adjudications;
                    (B) the status of applications or, where 
                applicable, petitions described in subparagraph (C), by 
                Immigration and Naturalization Service district, 
                including--
                            (i) the number of cases adjudicated in each 
                        quarter of each fiscal year;
                            (ii) the average processing time for such 
                        applications or petitions;
                            (iii) the number of applications or 
                        petitions pending for up to 6 months, 12 
                        months, 18 months, 24 months, 36 months, and 48 
                        months or more;
                            (iv) the estimated processing times 
                        adjudicating newly submitted applications or 
                        petitions;
                            (v) an analysis of the appropriate 
                        processing times for applications or petitions; 
                        and
                            (vi) a description of the additional 
                        resources and process changes needed to 
                        eliminate the backlog for such processing and 
                        adjudications; and
                    (C) a status report on--
                            (i) applications for adjustments of status 
                        to that of an alien lawfully admitted for 
                        permanent residence;
                            (ii) petitions for nonimmigrant visas under 
                        section 214 of the Immigration and Nationality 
                        Act;
                            (iii) petitions filed under section 204 of 
                        such Act to classify aliens as immediate 
                        relatives or preference immigrants under 
                        section 203 of such Act;
                            (iv) applications for asylum under section 
                        208 of such Act;
                            (v) registrations for Temporary Protected 
                        Status under section 244 of such Act; and
                            (vi) a description of the additional 
                        resources and process changes needed to 
                        eliminate the backlog for such processing and 
                        adjudications.
            (3) Absence of appropriated funds.--In the event that no 
        funds are appropriated subject to section 4(b) in the fiscal 
        year in which this Act is enacted, the Attorney General shall 
        submit a report to Congress not later than 90 days after the 
        end of such fiscal year, and each fiscal year thereafter, 
        containing the elements described in paragraph (2).
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