What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : Immigrants : S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Cornyn of Texas amendment that would allow federal agencies to share information provided by immigrants who apply for certain visas/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 190)
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S 1348. (Immigration overhaul) Cornyn of Texas amendment that would allow federal agencies to share information provided by immigrants who apply for certain visas/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 190     Jun 06, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment by John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would remove a prohibition in the underlying bill preventing federal agencies from sharing information with law enforcement about people who apply for new visas. The amendment was offered to a bill intended to overhaul America's immigration system. Among other things, the measure establishes several new visas intended to help combat America's growing population of illegal immigrants, including a new "Z visa" that would put many immigrants, including those here illegally, on the path to citizenship. The bill establishes confidentiality statutes that prohibit visa application information from being shared with law enforcement.

Cornyn said that, for instance, if someone applies for a new Z visa, Customs can't use that information to arrest that person if they are in the country illegally if they are denied the visa.

"The information contained in that application by those 12 million individuals is effectively shielded from law enforcement authorities," Cornyn said. "And to be clear, we are talking about those who cannot even establish that they meet the minimum requirements to get this valuable benefit. Even worse, they have continually flouted our immigration and criminal laws. Why would we consciously give these individuals broad privacy protections by the mere filing of their application for Z status, and why would they be treated differently from other immigrants?"

Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. and one of the authors of the underlying bill, said Cornyn's amendment would remove too many confidentiality protections that are being established to encourage people to apply for the visas.

"We want these people to come out of the shadows and register to begin this process, right? Right. We have to make sure those people are going to have a certain amount of confidentiality, that they are not thinking they are just going to sign in and register and report to be deported. That is what the Cornyn amendment effectively does," Kennedy said. He added that the bill's confidentiality statutes do not apply for someone who has "been involved in any criminal activity and any fraudulent activity."

By a vote of 57-39, the Senate adopted the amendment. Virtually every Republican voted for the amendment, except for two: Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Richard Lugar of Indiana. Democrats mostly voted against the amendment, however 11 voted for it. Thus, the bill went forward without confidentiality protections preventing federal agencies from sharing visa applicants' information with law enforcement.

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