Immigration Articles

Tribute to Frank Lautenberg – Champion of Immigrant Causes

On September 12th 2000, I traveled to The Hart Senate Office Building on Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street, NE in Washington DC to meet with and to urge Members of Congress to support among other things, H-1B legislation, restoration of Section 245(i), updating the registry date, NACARA parity, and IIRAIRA reform. I was part of a concerted effort by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to urge passage of S. 2045 (the Hatch/Abraham H-1B Bill). Eventually, on October 4, 2000, it would be passed by both House and Senate and come to be known as the American Competitiveness in the Twenty First Century Act (AC21).

What brought back memories of my visit to the Hart Senate Office Building was recent news about the Senator I was there to meet – the Senior Senator from New Jersey – Frank Lautenberg. My interaction with his Office was so positive and reassuring that I had no doubt in my mind that the proposed legislation would certainly pass. After all, we had a master salesman (before becoming the Chairman and CEO of ADP, Inc. in 1952, he was its first salesman) on our side.

Now, with the Senate opening up floor debate of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, one can but wonder how the passing of the Senator (on June 3rd) will affect the outcome. Perhaps, he could have soothed a bruised ego, or stopped an extreme measure from being adopted. Maybe, introduced a compromise amendment to solve a stalemate… we will never know.

That day, as I walked away from the Hart Senate Office Building with its imposing façade and even more imposing residents, I couldn’t help but notice an odd sculpture in the Atrium entitled, Mountains and Clouds (by Alexander Calder). For some reason, it held my attention. I couldn’t help wonder if the title was meant to be an allegory of the remarkable residents and the impressive causes that they championed day in and day out.

Thank you Senator Lautenberg[1] for tirelessly serving your constituents and for championing Immigrant causes throughout your illustrious career in the Senate.


[1] Lautenberg often spoke of his affinity with immigrants, noting that he was the son of Polish and Russian nationals, and that he grew up in Paterson, a long-time gateway in northern New Jersey for newcomers from different corners of the world.

 

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