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U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on the Judiciary
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman

News Advisory
For immediate release Contact: Jeff Lungren/ Terry Shawn (202) 225-2492
August 7, 2001

Sensenbrenner and Gekas Statement on

Immigration Reform

Announce Fall Hearings on INS Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-Wis.) and Immigration and Claims Subcommittee Chairman George W. Gekas (R-Penn.) today released the following statement regarding immigration policy:

"During the past few weeks, many have publicly embraced changes in our immigration laws, with the discussion including talk of broad legalization, amnesty for those who entered the U.S. illegally, as well as new guest worker programs.

"However, these proposals and discussions are seriously flawed - if not dead-on-arrival -- without first enacting a comprehensive reform of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). INS reform must be the first legislative train down Pennsylvania Avenue. Failure to act only will bottle up other immigration proposals. In the meantime, President Bush's choice of James Ziglar as the new commissioner is a strong step towards beginning the necessary INS reforms and no doubt we will be working closely with him on this effort.

"When Congress returns in the fall, the Judiciary Committee will be holding hearings on the INS' performance, its chronic problems, and how to restructure the agency to effectively deliver its services. Also, this month we will begin drafting comprehensive INS reform legislation that should attract solid bipartisan support in Congress.

"We have found the INS to be the most dysfunctional federal agency around. Chairman Sensenbrenner's congressional district office outside Milwaukee - not exactly a border region heavy with new immigrants - receives six times the number of INS complaints as it does complaints about the IRS. We're sure our colleagues representing Tucson, San Ysidro, El Paso and other border areas can point to similar frustrations with the performance of the INS.

"In fact, the INS had 4.5 million applications pending at the end of June - the largest pending amount in the agency's history and nine times the number when Congress last considered amnesty in 1986. This enormous backlog translates to more than 10,000 pending applications for each congressional district. It is foolish and unproductive to consider large changes to immigration laws - and give the INS new responsibilities -- while only offering the same bureaucratic structure that has failed in the past. This does a disservice to the millions that could be affected by possible immigration legislation.

"President Bush deserves credit for his visionary leadership on immigration. We will continue working with the Bush administration, our colleagues, and others to reform the INS and ensure that our immigration laws are fair, inclusive, and effective."