Report text available as:

  • TXT
  • PDF   (PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip ?

110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    110-158

======================================================================



 
      TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF IRAQI AND AFGHANI TRANSLATORS AND 
   INTERPRETERS WHO MAY BE ADMITTED TO THE UNITED STATES AS SPECIAL 
                               IMMIGRANTS

                                _______
                                

  May 21, 2007.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Conyers, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1104]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the bill 
(S. 1104) to increase the number of Iraqi and Afghani 
translators and interpreters who may be admitted to the United 
States as special immigrants, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that 
the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
The Amendment....................................................     2
Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     5
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     6

                             The Amendment

  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR CERTAIN ALIENS SERVING AS 
                    TRANSLATORS OR INTERPRETERS WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES.

    (a) Increase in Numbers Admitted.--Section 1059 of the National 
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (8 U.S.C. 1101 note) is 
amended--
            (1) in subsection (b)(1)--
                    (A) in subparagraph (B), by striking ``as a 
                translator'' and inserting ``, or under Chief of 
                Mission authority, as a translator or interpreter'';
                    (B) in subparagraph (C), by inserting ``the Chief 
                of Mission or'' after ``recommendation from''; and
                    (C) in subparagraph (D), by inserting ``the Chief 
                of Mission or'' after ``as determined by''; and
            (2) in subsection (c)(1), by striking ``section during any 
        fiscal year shall not exceed 50.'' and inserting the following: 
        ``section--
                    ``(A) during each of the fiscal years 2007 and 
                2008, shall not exceed 500; and
                    ``(B) during any other fiscal year shall not exceed 
                50.''.
    (b) Aliens Exempt From Employment-Based Numerical Limitations.--
Section 1059(c)(2) of such Act is amended--
            (1) by amending the paragraph designation and heading to 
        read as follows:
            ``(2) Aliens exempt from employment-based numerical 
        limitations.--''; and
            (2) by inserting ``and shall not be counted against the 
        numerical limitations under sections 201(d), 202(a), and 
        203(b)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
        1151(d), 1152(a), and 1153(b)(4))'' before the period at the 
        end.
    (c) Adjustment of Status.--Section 1059 of such Act is further 
amended--
            (1) by redesignating subsection (d) as subsection (e); and
            (2) by inserting after subsection (c) the following:
    ``(d) Adjustment of Status.--Notwithstanding paragraphs (2), (7) 
and (8) of section 245(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 
U.S.C. 1255(c)), the Secretary of Homeland Security may adjust the 
status of an alien to that of a lawful permanent resident under section 
245(a) of such Act if the alien--
            ``(1) was paroled or admitted as a nonimmigrant into the 
        United States; and
            ``(2) is otherwise eligible for special immigrant status 
        under this section and under the Immigration and Nationality 
        Act.''.

                          Purpose and Summary

    Iraqi and Afghani translators and interpreters provide 
vital assistance in their home countries to the mission of the 
United States Armed Forces and Department of State. Their work 
for the United States government often makes them targets of 
death squads, militias, and al-Qaeda. Many translators and 
interpreters are forced into hiding and are unable to escape 
this threat. S. 1104 would expand existing law to authorize 500 
special immigrant visas annually for the next 2 years, and 
expand eligibility for the visas to include both translators 
and interpreters working for the Chief of Mission or the United 
States Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    During our Nation's military operations in Iraq and 
Afghanistan, nationals of these two countries have risked their 
lives in order to serve in the key function of translator or 
interpreter--a critical link between our troops and the Iraqi 
and Afghani people. As a result of their service, many Iraqi 
and Afghani employees of the United States Government--targeted 
by insurgents as U.S. collaborators--have been forced to leave 
their families and go into hiding. While these employees could 
eventually be eligible for refugee status, many have been 
specifically singled out because of their work for the United 
States and are in need of immediate resettlement.
    In the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2006 (P.L. 109-163), Congress authorized fifty special 
immigrant visas annually for Iraqi and Afghani translators who 
were employed for at least a year by the U.S. Armed Forces and 
who passed required background checks in Iraq prior to filing a 
visa petition. Since the initial authorization in FY2006, more 
than 600 Iraqi and Afghani translators working for our Armed 
Forces have been approved for these visas, and an increasing 
number of Iraqis and Afghanis have come under threat for their 
cooperation with the United States.
    In response to this growing threat and backlog, Senator 
Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced S. 1104 on April 12, 2007, with 
11 bipartisan original cosponsors. The bill was passed by the 
Senate on the same day by unanimous consent. Representatives 
Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced 
H.R. 1790, legislation similar but not identical to S. 1104, in 
the House on March 29, 2007. There are currently ten times as 
many translators and interpreters approved and awaiting visas 
that will allow them to flee threats in Iraq and Afghanistan 
than there are visas available. Knowing that there are 
potentially dire consequences in delay, the Committee chose to 
consider the Senate-passed legislation in the interest of 
expediting its enactment.
    In approving this bill for expedited consideration, the 
Committee acknowledges the issues that are left unaddressed. 
There appears to be little reason to limit this relief to those 
serving with our Missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as a 
translator or interpreter. Iraqis and Afghanis are serving in 
many different functions in aid of our Missions there, and as 
their lives come under threat as a result, they would seem 
similarly deserving of our help in delivering them from harm's 
way. There is also the question of whether these would-be 
refugees should be granted access to refugee assistance 
programs promptly once they arrive in the United States.
    Finally, in light of the growing backlog of approved visa 
petitioners--roughly 500--and the slow process of completing 
background checks in DHS, the Committee may wish to consider 
enacting a carryover provision that would permit visas left 
unused in one fiscal year to be added to the authorized totals 
in subsequent fiscal years when there is a pending backlog.
    In this regard, the Committee wishes to reaffirm that 
nothing in this legislation changes the authority or the duties 
of the Department of Homeland Security regarding the completion 
of the background check and the decision whether to issue a 
visa.
    Though the Administration has not issued a Statement of 
Administration Position on S. 1104, the Department of State has 
indicated publicly its support for efforts like S. 1104. Paula 
Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global 
Affairs recently conveyed that the United States is ``committed 
to honoring our moral debt to those Iraqis who have provided 
assistance to the U.S. military and embassy.'' \1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Nir Rosen, The Flight from Iraq, N.Y. Times Magazine, May 13, 
2007
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Hearings

    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on S. 1104.

                        Committee Consideration

    On May 17, 2007, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill S. 1104 favorably reported with an amendment, 
by voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that there 
were no recorded votes during the Committee's consideration of 
S.1104.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives is inapplicable because this legislation does 
not provide new budgetary authority or increased tax 
expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the bill, S. 1104, the following estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 21, 2007.
Hon. John Conyers, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1104, an act to 
increase the number of Iraqi and Afghani translators and 
interpreters who may be admitted to the United States as 
special immigrants.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz, who can be reached at 226-2860.
            Sincerely,
                                           Peter R. Orszag,
                                                  Director.

Enclosure

cc:
        Honorable Lamar S. Smith.
        Ranking Member
S. 1104--An act to increase the number of Iraqi and Afghani translators 
        and interpreters who may be admitted to the United States as 
        special immigrants.
    Current law allows certain nationals of Iraq or Afghanistan 
who have worked with the U.S. Armed Forces as translators to 
apply for permanent U.S. residence as special immigrants. This 
opportunity is limited to 50 individuals, plus their families, 
during any fiscal year.
    S. 1104 would increase the current limit to 500 translators 
or interpreters, plus their families, for each of fiscal years 
2007 and 2008. Enacting this legislation could affect direct 
spending and revenues by the Department of Homeland Security, 
the Department of State, and certain Federal assistance 
programs. Because so few special visas would be provided, 
however, CBO estimates that S. 1104 would have no significant 
budgetary impact.
    S. 1104 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no significant costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Mark Grabowicz, 
who can be reached at 226-2860. This estimate was approved by 
Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget 
Analysis.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, S. 
1104, as amended, is intended to increase the ability of the 
United States Government to provide visas to Iraqi and Afghani 
translators and interpreters whose lives are threatened as a 
result of their service to our Nation's missions in Iraq and 
Afghanistan.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in article I, section 8, clause 4 of the 
Constitution.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, S. 1104 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of Rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
    Sec. 1. Special Immigrant Status for Certain Aliens Serving 
as Translators or Interpreters with Federal Agencies. Section 
1(a) amends section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization 
Act for Fiscal Year 2006, 8 U.S.C. Sec. 1101 note, to increase 
the number of special immigrants that can be admitted to 500 
for fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009. It also expands the 
eligibility for these visas to include both interpreters and 
translators and broadens the scope of required employment to 
include those working for the Chief of Mission
    Subsection (b) clarifies that special immigrants entering 
under this provision will not count against country limits or 
numerical limits on employment-based or special immigrant 
status.
    Subsection (c) ensures that Iraqi and Afghani nationals 
that qualify for special immigrant status and either have been 
paroled into the United States or have already entered the 
United States in another lawful non-immigrant status, are still 
eligible for a visa under this section.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italics, existing law in which no change 
is proposed is shown in roman):

SECTION 1059 OF THE NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 
                                  2006

SEC. 1059. SPECIAL IMMIGRANT STATUS FOR PERSONS SERVING AS TRANSLATORS 
                    WITH UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

    (a) * * *
    (b) Aliens Described.--
            (1) Principal aliens.--An alien is described in 
        this subsection if the alien--
                    (A) * * *
                    (B) worked directly with United States 
                Armed Forces [as a translator], or under Chief 
                of Mission authority, as a translator or 
                interpreter for a period of at least 12 months;
                    (C) obtained a favorable written 
                recommendation from the Chief of Mission or a 
                general or flag officer in the chain of command 
                of the United States Armed Forces unit that was 
                supported by the alien; and
                    (D) before filing the petition described in 
                subsection (a)(1), cleared a background check 
                and screening, as determined by the Chief of 
                Mission or a general or flag officer in the 
                chain of command of the United States Armed 
                Forces unit that was supported by the alien.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    (c) Numerical Limitations.--
            (1) In general.--The total number of principal 
        aliens who may be provided special immigrant status 
        under this [section during any fiscal year shall not 
        exceed 50.] section--
                    (A) during each of the fiscal years 2007 
                and 2008, shall not exceed 500; and
                    (B) during any other fiscal year shall not 
                exceed 50.
            [(2) Counting against special immigrant cap.--] (2) 
        Aliens exempt from employment-based numerical 
        limitations.--For purposes of the application of 
        sections 201 through 203 of the Immigration and 
        Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151-1153) in any fiscal 
        year, aliens eligible to be provided status under this 
        section shall be treated as special immigrants 
        described in section 101(a)(27) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 
        1101(a)(27)) who are not described in subparagraph (A), 
        (B), (C), or (K) of such section and shall not be 
        counted against the numerical limitations under 
        sections 201(d), 202(a), and 203(b)(4) of the 
        Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1151(d), 
        1152(a), and 1153(b)(4)).
    (d) Adjustment of Status.--Notwithstanding paragraphs (2), 
(7) and (8) of section 245(c) of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255(c)), the Secretary of Homeland 
Security may adjust the status of an alien to that of a lawful 
permanent resident under section 245(a) of such Act if the 
alien--
            (1) was paroled or admitted as a nonimmigrant into 
        the United States; and
            (2) is otherwise eligible for special immigrant 
        status under this section and under the Immigration and 
        Nationality Act.
    [(d)] (e) Application of Immigration and Nationality Act 
Provisions.--The definitions in subsections (a) and (b) of 
section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
1101) shall apply in the administration of this section.