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Statement of Senator Orrin G. Hatch

Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on

U.S.-Mexico Migration Discussions: An Historic Opportunity

I believe the discussion we’re engaging in today is timely and appropriate. Appropriate in the sense that, as President Bush has recently remarked, the issue of immigration and immigration reform is a complex one. Because it is complex, I applaud the Administration’s careful consideration with regard to a comprehensive plan of action. Resolving the issues at hand requires reflective thought and discussion. These witnesses before us can, and I’m sure will, offer valuable viewpoints.

Immigration has long been one of the important issues within this committee’s jurisdiction and one that has often accompanied bipartisan consensus. In fact, last night was a prime example of the type of bipartisan effort to which I refer. I want to congratulate the President as well as Senator Kennedy, Chairman Sesenbrenner, Senator Hagel, Senator Kyl, and many others for their efforts to arrive at a strong, bipartisan, bicameral compromise on the so-called 245(i) legislation.

In addition, last year Senator Kennedy and I worked on legislation supporting family reunification and immigration policies which serve to keep families intact. Also, we have in recent years successfully worked together on expansion of the H-1B program, which allows necessary workers to come to and work in the United States in professional positions. I certainly look forward to working closely with the Administration and members of this body to enact useful immigration reforms this Congress.

Over the past few months, three primary immigration reform models have been discussed. Those being: (1) "amnesty"; (2) a guest worker program; and (3) the enactment of various "earned adjustment" provisions. On each, there are strongly held views and I very much look forward to all of the witnesses thoughts and comments.
Before I conclude my remarks however, I hope you’ll indulge me, Mr. Chairman, while I plug the DREAM Act (S. 1291), which I introduced just last month. The bill, which is similar to legislation recently introduced by Senator Durbin, is an example of an "earned adjustment" provision. The concept of "earned adjustment" contemplates the giving of a benefit based on a personal accomplishment that benefits society as a whole. Under the DREAM Act, an alien child who is a long-term illegal resident of the United States and is otherwise a respecter of the law can "earn" permanent residency upon graduation from a qualified institute of higher education. While I recognize that the current emphasis is appropriately on worker migration, I think that emphasis should also be placed on the plight of illegally present children and their efforts to better themselves by pursuing higher education. I look forward to working with Senators Durbin and Kennedy on our respective bills and to try to get something done on this important matter as soon as possible.

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