Letter from Chief of Staff John Podesta to Senator Orrin Hatch (10/27/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                           October 27, 2000

                          TO SENATOR ORRIN HATCH

                                October 27, 2000

The Honorable Orrin Hatch
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Hatch:

     I share your disappointment that we have been unable to reach
agreement on legislation to address several injustices in our immigration
system as called for by the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act.  While we
applaud your willingness to consider these issues, your legislative
proposal simply does not go far enough.

     Contrary to statements in your letter that you have not received
serious feedback on your proposal, we have communicated our views orally to
your staff.  Briefly, your proposal does not help most of the people who
need relief and continues the patchwork of contradictory and discriminatory
policies passed by previous Congresses.  In an effort to move this process
along, however, please find below the Administration?s specific objections:

     Proposal on the 1986 Legalization Program.  Your proposal does not
fully correct the flawed implementation of the1986 legalization program
under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.  Your proposal would
only help individuals who filed specific lawsuits with a specific law firm.
Those individuals who would now be citizens will wait years for relief as
their court actions continue after a four-year hiatus.  While we continue
to prefer our registry date proposal, we would consider a proposal to
define the class of people to be protected as those who were in the country
before January 1, 1982 and would have likely benefited from the 1986
legalization program.  Additionally, a non-judicial process for ensuring
that such individuals meet the admissibility requirements of the
Immigration and National Act (INA) section 212 will result in a more
timely, humane and less burdensome process. Given that immediate relatives,
along with those who would have qualified for relief in 1986, were all
victims of the INS' misinterpretation of the law, solutions must address
the status of both the applicants and their immediate family members.

     Section 245(i).   Your response to our proposal to reinstate section
245(i) is to create an entirely new visa program, which would help some but
not all of the individuals who would benefit from reinstatement of this
section.  Your proposal treats the family members of some legal permanent
residents better than family members of U.S. citizens.  It leaves out U.S.
citizens applying for their children over the age of 21 and fails to help
U.S. citizens seeking to reunite with their spouses and children if the
spouse or child fell out of status for six months or more.  There is
bipartisan support for reinstatement of 245(i) as evidenced by its
inclusion in past Senate versions of the Commerce, Justice, State
Appropriations bill.   Accordingly, while we are interested in exploring
your proposal for a new ?V? visa program, we believe it should be coupled
with reinstatement of section 245(I).

     NACARA Parity.   Your proposal fails to address in any way the
inequities contained in the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American
Relief Act (NACARA) and the Haitian Refugee and Immigration Fairness Act
(HRIFA).   These laws, passed in 1997 and 1998, provide for unequal
treatment for refugees fleeing from countries that were torn by war in the
1980?s and early 1990?s.   At the time these laws were passed, we made
clear our opposition to this unequal treatment.  We have tried since then
to correct these inequities.  It is long past time to close the chapter on
this country?s history of choosing some people for preferential treatment
even though there were others similarly situated.    Again, there is
bipartisan support for this proposal as evidenced by a recent letter of
support signed by seven prominent House Republicans.   We simply cannot
accept your suggestion to defer this issue until the next Congress.

     We continue to believe that we can find some common ground to address
these issues and look forward to hearing from you.


                              John D. Podesta
                              Chief of Staff to the President

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