Text of Sen. Orrin Hatch introducing immigration bill

Published: Thursday, Sept. 30 2010 10:00 a.m. MDT

The text of Hatch's introduction of the bill "Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and Americas Security Act" on the Senate floor:

Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Strengthening Our Commitment to Legal Immigration and America's Security Act. Our immigration system is broken and needs reform. We can make progress by starting with the laws that already exist. My bill would enhance our core immigration and enforcement laws for both legal and illegal immigrants.

Much has been discussed this Congress on how to proceed on the very complex and, unfortunately at times, partisan issue of immigration reform. Some have introduced non-binding resolutions others have tried to attach immigration-related measures to non-germane legislative vehicles. But, we're never going to get anywhere with these political stunts which do little to get to the root the problem.

Throughout my service, I have spent considerable time with my constituents and, quite frankly, have anguished with them on how to best address the considerable strain the illegal alien population is having on Utahns. Among other things, I have taken the initiative to increase immigration enforcement in Utah include bringing ICE Quick Response teams to our state, creating an immigration court, and establishing an ICE Field Office Director position to address Utah's immigration concerns. I also brought the 287(g) cross-deputizing program and just recently the Secure Communities program to Utah.

There is no question that more needs to be done. That's something everyone will agree on. Just recently legislation was enacted to enhance border security. I was pleased that this was a bipartisan effort. Some argue that the bill is sufficient to secure our border, but I disagree. There is much work to be done before the border is properly sealed. I continue to work with and support my colleagues whose states are located along the Southwest border. They know what resources we need to deploy to secure the border.

While Utah is not a border state, we still share the same concerns of our neighbors along the border. However, our problems result from a residual effect of a porous border and a breakdown of our immigration enforcement system.

For years, I have been saying most immigration problems could be solved if we would enforce the laws on the books. Unfortunately, the current Administration continues to explore ways to exploit current law and score political points.

During the past several months, the Obama administration has been holding behind-the-scenes talks to determine whether the Department of Homeland Security can unilaterally grant legal status, on a mass basis, to illegal immigrants via deferred action and parole. If the Administration is successful, it would be the equivalent of back-door amnesty for millions. For this reason, my bill specifies that an alien may only be paroled or granted deferred action on a case-by-case basis – not en mass -- the way these laws were intended to be used.

The 287(g) and Secure Communities programs continue to be valuable tools to our law enforcement officials in detaining and deporting criminal aliens. For example, in Fiscal Year 2010, the 287(g) program was responsible for detaining 29,295 criminal aliens. What I don't understand is why some cities would choose to not participate in these effective programs. That is why my proposed legislation would require eligible states, counties, or cities to actively participate in the Secure Communities or 287(g) programs or forego compensation for incarceration expenses. Turning a blind eye to these law enforcement programs poses a serious risk to the public and creates sanctuary cities.

When I meet with my constituents, one of their top concerns is how we fix our visa programs. Many are concerned, and with good cause, about how some of these folks are getting into the country. Disturbingly, some visa holders are active participants in organized crime. They come to this country and infiltrate our communities, wreaking havoc in our neighborhoods.

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