[Pacific Daily News] Bordallo introduces bill to prevent deportation of South Korean couple
Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo has introduced legislation to try to save a South Korean couple from being deported.
Bordallo introduced her bill, H.R. 4659, on Tuesday in Washington. The legislation is titled “For the relief of Myong Mok Bae and Kei Za Ryu Bae.”
The Baes face deportation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Bordallo’s remarks in the congressional record.
Such legislation — a bill that helps a specific individual — isn’t uncommon in Congress, and many of these bills are immigration related.
The bill proposes to grant permanent resident status for the Baes, who’ve been in Guam for 18 years, according to Bordallo’s remarks.
It’s unclear how long the Baes have lived in Guam without lawful immigration status in the 18 years they’ve been on island.
There were 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2014, and they make up 3.5 percent of the nation’s population, according to the Pew Research Center.
Guam statistics weren’t immediately available.
In 2014, President Obama proposed a path for millions of immigrants to “come out of the shadows.”
The Democratic president proposed that illegal immigrants who’ve been in America for more than five years, who have children who are U.S. citizens or residents and who pass a criminal background check, could apply to stay without fear of deportation, according to whitehouse.gov.
The Republican-controlled Congress has blocked immigration reform efforts from the White House.
In her remarks to Congress, Bordallo described the Baes as a couple who arrived on the island in 1997 as “immigrant entrepreneurs,” but who later fell on tough times.
“Although unforeseen natural disasters and economic hardships hampered the success of their investment, the Baes remained active members of the Guam community,” Bordallo said.
“They continue to serve as outstanding members of the community who have no criminal history and pose no risk to public safety or to national security,” Bordallo said in Congress.
The Baes “would suffer extreme hardship” if deported to South Korea, Bordallo argued.
“They are an elderly couple with no family or community in Korea and with no means of gainful employment at this stage in their lives,” Bordallo said.
It’s unclear how the Baes are supporting themselves in Guam.
Bordallo has helped many individuals with immigration issues, according to her office, but it wasn’t clear on its response to the Pacific Daily News whether she has previously introduced legislation specifically tailored for specific individuals — before her bill to help the Baes.
The Baes’ case was brought to Bordallo’s attention a number of years ago, according to her office in a written statement.
“We have been working with the Baes to address their immigration status including correspondence with (Department of Homeland Security),” Bordallo’s office stated. “After the exchange of correspondence and exhausting other administrative efforts, the focus of our efforts shifted to introduction of a private bill.
She didn’t indicate if the Baes arrived on short-term business visas, which allow for up to 90 days of stay, or on longer-term investor visas, which can be valid for a few years.
“Bordallo advised the Baes that this bill would likely not be considered by the committee of jurisdiction as Republican leadership has serious concerns about considering private bills in the House,” Bordallo’s office stated.
“Nevertheless, she introduced the bill at the Baes’ request as they believe it would be beneficial to their case with DHS.”
A private bill is legislation that aims to benefit one or more specific individuals, corporations or institutions, according to the Library of Congress website.
Between 1986 and early 2013, 170 private bills were enacted, a Congressional Research Service report released in April 2013 states.
Most of the bills — 94 out of the 170 — dealt with immigration issues.
In the current Congress, 32 private bills, including Bordallo’s legislation, have been introduced. Many are immigration related and deal with the permanent resident statuses of specific individuals.
The immigrant advocacy Organizations United We Dream Network, in a manual for members of Congress, states a congressional office “may intervene at any point with ICE and its administrative process, from a recent detention all the way up to impending deportation.”
“Congressional offices have no authoritative power to stop a deportation, but your offices do have the right to ask ICE not to deport an individual,” according to the network’s manual, “Deportation Defense Guide: A guide for members of Congress and other elected officials.”
While members of Congress can pursue cases on behalf of potential deportees only on their merits, the network cautions, “members must ensure that they do not intervene in a manner and to a degree that damages the administrative process.”
A member of Congress “must not indicate to an agency that a particular outcome is mandatory or dictated by the member,” according to the manual.
An email to the U.S. Immigrant and Citizenship Services for comment didn’t have a response as of press time.