THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 1, 2000
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM
CHIEF OF STAFF JOHN PODESTA
TO SENATOR ORRIN HATCH
November 1, 2000
The Honorable Orrin Hatch
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Thank you for your recent letter concerning immigration fairness. We
continue to hope that in the spirit of bipartisanship we can work to
achieve an amicable solution to the problems in our current immigration
laws and practices.
First, your proposal to provide relief for at least some individuals
who would have likely benefited from the legalization program under the
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 goes some distance in trying to
provide fairness. However, your approach provides relief only to the
litigants in particular lawsuits and leaves similarly situated long-term
individuals to fend for themselves. I would like to work together to
determine the best process for achieving our shared goal for this group of
Second, your proposal to create a new "V" visa program for persons who
have awaited an immigrant visa for a significant period of time would
benefit only some of the individuals who would be protected under our
proposal to reinstate section 245(i). Your plan provides insufficient
relief to persons who would otherwise be eligible to adjust their status.
I believe we can find a way of bridging the gap between our proposals.
Finally, the Administration seeks to eliminate disparate treatment
under our immigration laws for individuals who fled civil unrest and human
rights abuses in the 1980s and 1990s. However, your proposal provides no
relief to these deserving individuals. While members of your party have
explored a different approach for achieving much of the same goal, your
staff has not been willing to discuss this alternate proposal with
Administration officials. Perhaps you can pursue this idea. Surely your
expressed desire to bring ?fairness to our nation?s immigration policy,?
should result in a serious consideration of this and any other proposal
that seeks to treat similarly situated people the same.
As the foregoing indicates, there is actually more common ground than
your recent letters suggest. Indeed, there is bipartisan support for H.R.
5062 that would provide relief for certain individuals affected by changes
in the 1996 immigration law. Such efforts would go a long way to achieving
fairness in our immigration system. The time for finding a solution is
upon us, and we look forward to working with you to achieve that end. I
look forward to hearing from you regarding next steps.
John D. Podesta
Chief of Staff to the President