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[Congressional Record: June 19, 2003 (Senate)]
[Page S8256-S8257]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am pleased to support the nomination of 
Eduardo Aguirre to serve as Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and 
Immigration Services (BCIS), in the newly-created Department of 
Homeland Security. I was very impressed with him at his nomination 
hearing, and I look forward to working with him in his new position.
  I am pleased that this nomination was referred to the Judiciary 
Committee, which continues to have jurisdiction over immigration 
legislation and oversight. Similarly, I am pleased that we were able to 
obtain unanimous consent last week for the Judiciary Committee to 
receive a subsequent referral on the nomination of Michael Garcia to 
head the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement--BICE.
  The recent Inspector General report on the treatment of ``9/11 

[[Page S8257]]

shows the severe consequences that can be faced by those immigrants who 
fail to mention their unlawful status. Of course, the responsibility to 
remain here legally falls upon immigrants, but there are occasions when 
immigrants live up to that responsibility and are nonetheless failed by 
errors and backlogs on the Government's part. I hope and trust that 
preventing such errors will be a major priority for Mr. Aguirre. I also 
hope that he will use his position to battle the perception in many 
immigrant communities that the war on terrorism has become a war on 
  At his confirmation hearing, I talked to Mr. Aguirre about the former 
INS employees in Vermont who will be under his jurisdiction, including 
those at the Vermont Service Center in St. Albans. I recommended to him 
that he build on the established INS workforce throughout the State by 
making Vermont a regional center for his agency, and I was pleased that 
he seemed to take that advice seriously. I am eager to work with him to 
see that idea become a reality.
  On the national level, it was a priority for many of us in Congress 
that immigration services not be overlooked at the Department of 
Homeland Security. Although our security is paramount, the new 
Department must remember that our Nation's founding principals and 
economic health demand that immigration be handled in a fair and 
orderly way. After his confirmation hearing, I believe that Mr. 
Aguirre--himself a refugee--understands this at a fundamental level.
  He faces a challenging job. I have already written him about the 
backlogs that plague our immigration system, and I hope that he is able 
to make meaningful change in that area. The President has pledged to 
reduce the average backlog for immigration petitions to 6 months by 
2006--to do so is going to take serious investment, and I hope Mr. 
Aguirre will be a voice inside the administration to make that