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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
Judiciary Committee
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 people.

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