S. 2505 (107th): Cultural Bridges Act of 2002

The text of the bill below is as of May 13, 2002 (Introduced).

S2505 IS

107th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2505

To promote the national security of the United States through international educational and cultural exchange programs between the United States and the Islamic world, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 10 (legislative day, MAY 9, 2002)

Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. CHAFEE, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. DODD, Mr. HAGEL, Mr. SMITH of Oregon, Mr. COCHRAN, Mr. BROWNBACK, Mr. JEFFORDS, Mr. DURBIN, and Mr. FEINGOLD) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


A BILL

To promote the national security of the United States through international educational and cultural exchange programs between the United States and the Islamic world, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘Cultural Bridges Act of 2002’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) Educating international students is an important way to impart cross-cultural understanding and create goodwill for the United States throughout the world.

      (2) Students from the Islamic world are significantly underrepresented among the approximately 500,000 international students who study in the United States annually.

      (3) The volume of professional and cultural exchanges between the United States and the Islamic world is extremely low compared to other regions, and these exchanges have proven extremely effective worldwide in building productive people-to-people ties.

      (4) The federally-funded Future Leaders Exchange Program for high school students from the former Soviet Union, administered by the Department of State, has demonstrated the positive impact of reaching out to international students at the secondary school level, introducing them to American culture, and strengthening their commitment to democratic values and ideals.

      (5) A critical element in the war against terrorism will be increasing mutual understanding and respect between the peoples of the United States and peoples around the world, particularly those of the Islamic faith.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES- The term ‘appropriate congressional committees’ means the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on International Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.

      (2) FROM THE ISLAMIC WORLD- The term ‘from the Islamic world’, when used with respect to a person, means that the person is a national of a country in the Islamic world or has as the person’s residence or place of birth the West Bank or Gaza.

      (3) ISLAMIC WORLD- The term ‘Islamic world’ means--

        (A) the member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and does not include any country having observer status in the Organization; and

        (B) the areas consisting of the West Bank and Gaza.

      (4) SECONDARY SCHOOL- The term ‘secondary school’ means a school that serves students in any of the grades 9 through 12 or equivalent grades in a foreign education system, as determined by the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Education.

      (5) SECRETARY- Except as otherwise provided, the term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of State.

      (6) UNITED STATES SPONSORING ORGANIZATION- The term ‘United States sponsoring organization’ means a nongovernmental organization having United States citizenship that is designated by the Secretary to carry out the program authorized under section 5(a).

SEC. 4. PURPOSE.

    The purpose of this Act is to promote the national security of the United States through international educational and cultural exchange programs between the United States and the Islamic world that would--

      (1) afford additional opportunities for eligible participants from the Islamic world to study in the United States;

      (2) foster mutual respect for American and Islamic values and culture through people-to-people contacts; and

      (3) build bridges to a more peaceful world through programs aimed at enhancing mutual understanding.

SEC. 5. NEW EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM THE ISLAMIC WORLD.

    (a) IN GENERAL- To carry out the purpose of section 4, and to redress the underrepresentation in United States international exchange visitor programs of persons from the Islamic world, the Secretary, acting under the authority, direction, and control of the President, is authorized to establish an international exchange visitor program under which eligible secondary school students from the Islamic world would--

      (1) attend a public secondary school in the United States;

      (2) live with an American host family and experience life in a United States host community; and

      (3) participate in activities designed to promote a greater understanding of American and Islamic values and culture.

    (b) IMPLEMENTATION- The Secretary shall utilize the authorities of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 to carry out the program authorized by subsection (a) by grant, contract, or otherwise with United States sponsoring organizations.

    (c) ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2) and section 7, a foreign student is eligible

for participation in the program authorized by subsection (a), if the student--

        (A) is from the Islamic world;

        (B) is at least 15 years of age but not more than 18 and 6 months years of age at the time of initial school enrollment;

        (C) is enrolled in secondary school in the student’s country of nationality or in the West Bank or Gaza;

        (D) has completed not more than 11 years of primary and secondary education, exclusive of kindergarten;

        (E) demonstrates maturity, good character, and scholastic aptitude; and

        (F) has not previously participated in an academic year or semester secondary school student exchange program in the United States.

      (2) EXCEPTION- An alien is not eligible for participation in the program authorized by subsection (a) if the alien is otherwise inadmissible to the United States under section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)).

    (d) PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS- The program authorized by subsection (a) shall satisfy the following requirements:

      (1) RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION- Each United States sponsoring organization shall recruit and select eligible secondary school students on a competitive basis under guidelines developed by the Secretary and in a manner that ensures geographic, gender, and socio-economic diversity.

      (2) ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY- The Secretary or the United States sponsoring organization shall establish the English language proficiency of eligible secondary school students through standardized testing. For selected secondary school students found in need of additional English language training, the Secretary shall provide for not to exceed three months of such training, depending on the need of the student, prior to the commencement of the student’s course of academic study in the United States.

      (3) PREFERENCE FOR FULL ACADEMIC YEAR OF STUDY- The program shall emphasize educational exchanges consisting of a full academic year of study.

      (4) COMPLIANCE WITH ‘J’ VISA REQUIREMENTS- Participants in the program shall satisfy all requirements applicable to the admission of nonimmigrant aliens described in section 101(a)(15)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(J)). The program shall be considered a designated exchange visitor program for purposes of the application of section 641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

      (5) REGULAR REPORTING TO THE SECRETARY- Each United States sponsoring organization shall report regularly to the Secretary the information that the organization has obtained during regular contacts with the sponsored student, the host family, and the host secondary school.

SEC. 6. AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH NEW EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXCHANGE PROGRAMS AND EXPAND EXISTING PROGRAMS.

    Under the authority, direction, and control of the President, the Secretary is authorized to use the authorities of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 to establish new programs under that Act, and expand the coverage of existing programs under that Act, to increase the number of educational and cultural exchange activities involving persons from the Islamic world, except as provided in section 7.

SEC. 7. EXCEPTION FOR ISLAMIC WORLD COUNTRIES COVERED BY THE FREEDOM SUPPORT ACT.

    An individual who is a national of any of the following countries shall not be eligible for participation in any new program authorized under section 5 or 6 or for participation in an existing program expanded under the authority of section 6: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

SEC. 8. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS.

    (a) INITIAL REPORT- Not later than 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report setting forth the plans to implement this Act. The report shall include--

      (1) with respect to the program authorized by section 5(a)--

        (A) a plan indicating priority countries and areas in the Islamic world for participation in the program;

        (B) an estimate of the number of participating students from each country or area;

        (C) an identification of United States sponsoring organizations; and

        (D) a schedule for implementation of the program; and

      (2) with respect to fiscal year 2003, an allocation of funds by country or area in the Islamic world for the program authorized by section 5(a), and by program and country or area in the Islamic world for the exercise of authority under section 6.

    (b) ANNUAL REPORT- Not later than January 31 of each year, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the progress and effectiveness of activities carried out under this Act.

SEC. 9. AUTHORIZATIONS OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) NEW PROGRAM FUNDING-

      (1) IN GENERAL- In addition to funds otherwise available for such purpose, there is authorized to be appropriated for the Department of State $20,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to carry out the program authorized by section 5(a).

      (2) AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS- Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until expended.

    (b) FUNDING OF EXPANSION OF EXISTING PROGRAMS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- In addition to funds otherwise available for such purpose, there is authorized to be appropriated for the Department of State $75,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to carry out any new international educational or cultural exchange programs under section 6 or the expansion under section 6 of any existing such programs.

      (2) AVAILABILITY OF APPROPRIATIONS- Amounts appropriated pursuant to paragraph (1) are authorized to remain available until expended.

    (c) LIMITATIONS-

      (1) SINGLE COUNTRY LIMITATION- Of the amount authorized to be appropriated by subsection (a), and of the amount authorized to be appropriated by subsection (b), not more than 10 percent of each such amount is authorized to be available for any single country.

      (2) SINGLE PROGRAM LIMITATION- Of the amount authorized to be appropriated by subsection (b), not more than 25 percent is authorized to be available to carry out, or expand, any single international educational or cultural exchange program.