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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

STATEMENT OF SENATOR EDWARD M. KENNEDY
AT THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING ON JAMES ZIGLARíS NOMINATION AS THE COMMISSIONER OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE

Itís a privilege to chair this hearing on the nomination of James Ziglar to be the next Commissioner of the INS. Mr. Ziglar has a distinguished record as a fair, effective and experienced manager, and he has demonstrated his ability to work well with members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

As the head of the INS, Mr. Ziglar will be instrumental in influencing immigration policy, including reform of the INS. Many of us feel that the time has long come to divide the agency into two separate bureaus, with clear chains of command -- one for services and one for enforcement. These functions will need to be coordinated at the top by a strong Administrator responsible for the supervision and management of the entire agency and implementation of the nationís immigration policy.

We also feel that the service functions must be adequately funded. Sole reliance on application fees to fund the processing of all immigration applications has not worked, as we know from the long backlogs and delays facing immigrants who apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Clearly, additional funds are needed to reduce the massive backlogs, upgrade computer and telecommunications systems, and fund other improvements. Without these changes, high fees, long backlogs, and unresponsive service will continue to plague the INS.

We also need to deal with other important areas of immigration reform, such as enabling qualified persons to adjust their immigration status while in the U.S., without being required to leave the country and be separated from loved ones.

I am also very encouraged by the developments in the U.S.-Mexico migration discussions. As part of these negotiations, the issue of a temporary worker program has been suggested. Clearly, it should include strong protections for both U.S. and foreign workers, and appropriate legalization provisions for undocumented workers currently employed and residing in the U.S.

Finally, we must repeal the unfair provisions enacted by Congress in 1996 that continue to violate basic values such as family unity, individual liberty, and due process.

I look forward to todayís hearing, and to working closely with Mr. Ziglar and the Administration to achieve these important goals. Immigration continues to be an indispensable part of our nationís heritage and history, and we must do all we can to see that our laws are fair and consistent with the nationís fundamental values.


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