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Statement on Signing the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994

October 25, 1994

I am pleased to sign H.R. 783, the "Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994," which will reauthorize the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, assist new refugees coming to the United States, improve laws relating to naturalization and citizenship, and speed the deportation of alien felons.

The Visa Waiver Pilot Program was established in 1988 to allow visitors from certain countries to travel to the United States without a visa. The countries participating in this program grant reciprocal privileges to American visitors. In 1993, more than nine million international tourists and business people from 22 nations traveled to the United States under this program. This Act will help to promote U.S. tourism by extending the Visa Waiver Pilot Program for 2 years.

The Federal Government provides approximately $400 million annually to States and voluntary agencies to help provide for health, employment related services, English language training, and other resettlement needs of refugees. H.R. 783 will continue the authority for this program.

The Act also corrects a decades-old injustice to certain persons born outside the United States before 1934 of one U.S.-citizen parent and one noncitizen parent. Prior to the enactment of this Act, such persons could become U.S. citizens if the father was the citizen, but not if the mother was the citizen. H.R. 783 corrects this inequity and makes persons born before 1934 to a U.S. citizen mother and alien father eligible for U.S. citizenship.

The Act allows for more rapid deportation of undocumented aliens who are convicted of serious crimes in the United States. The Act also adds certain crimes to the definition of aggravated felony. I sign this legislation with the understanding that convictions for crimes included in the existing law will be governed by the current effective date provisions, and that the effective date provision related to the expanded definition applies only to convictions for those crimes that have been added by this Act.

Finally, I note that section 221 of the Act, relating to visits to the United States by Taiwan officials, is in potential tension with my constitutional authorities concerning receipt of Ambassadors, recognition of governments, and the conduct of foreign policy. Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 ("INA") permits the Secretary of State to exclude aliens where admission would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences. Were section 221 of the Act read to restrict this authority, section 221 would impermissibly impinge on my constitutional responsibilities.

Section 221 can be read in a manner consistent with the Constitution, however. Because the Congress has chosen not to modify section 212(a)(3)(C) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(C), I will construe section 221 as expressing the Congress' own view that in the six circumstances enumerated, our foreign policy is better served by admitting these individuals, but ultimately leaving this determination to the Secretary of State under section 212 of the INA. It is in this manner, consistent with the Constitution, that I intend for this statute to be construed.

Accordingly, I am hereby directing the Secretary of State to weigh particularly carefully the foreign policy interests of the United States in considering any application by Taiwan's leaders to visit the United States in the six designated circumstances. These interests include maintaining the present peaceful conditions and robust economic climate in the Taiwan Strait region and the successful balance struck between our unofficial relations with Taiwan and our relations with the People's Republic of China.


The White House, October 25, 1994.

NOTE: H.R. 783, approved October 25, was assigned Public Law No. 103-416.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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