Good First Step by Bush But What is to Follow?

June 27, 2000

Matt Tallmer, Public Affairs Manager
202-216-2404;    Fax: 202-371-9449


 WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national voluntary association of more than 6,000 attorneys who practice immigration law, today hailed as a good first step Texas Governor George W. Bush’s comments about reorganizing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Speaking yesterday before the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Texas Governor and presumptive Republican presidential candidate said he supports legislation to divide the INS into two agencies dealing with enforcement and adjudications, respectively. Under Governor Bush’s proposal, the agencies would be headed by an Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs, who would supervise enforcement and adjudications, and ensure that there is a single consistent legal and policy approach to immigration. AILA endorses separating, but coordinating, INS enforcement and adjudications, having a single person in charge who has the clout to set national immigration policy, and adequately funding both enforcement and adjudications.

“We are pleased that Governor Bush recognizes that the U.S. needs a single person in charge of both the enforcement and adjudications functions. We call on him to endorse our remaining two INS reorganization principles: along with separating the functions,  coordinating the enforcement and adjudication arms; and ensuring that both agencies receive adequate funding to perform their equally important functions,” said Jeanne A. Butterfield, AILA’s Executive Director.

There are two competing INS reorganization bills in Congress. One, introduced by Senators Spencer Abraham (R-MI) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA), meets all three AILA principles noted above. The other bill, sponsored by Representatives Hal Rogers (R-KY), Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), meet none of those criteria. While Governor Bush declined to endorse a specific bill, his chief spokesman noted that, “There are no differences between the Governor’s bill and Senator Abraham’s bill.”

Given those comments, Butterfield noted: “It is now time for the recalcitrant Republicans in the House of Representatives to get behind their Party’s presidential nominee and support INS reorganization that can work. They should join with Governor Bush and support the Abraham-Kennedy measure.”

While AILA applauds Governor Bush’s comments on INS reorganization, and his support for increasing the number of H-1B visas, Butterfield said that the probable Republican presidential nominee needs to address other important immigration issues.

“Before immigrant voters can support him, Governor Bush needs to take a position on these vitally important immigration issues: restoration of Section 245(i), which would allow eligible people to apply for green cards here, rather than having to return to their home countries; NACARA parity, thereby treating people from similar circumstances similarly; and changing the registry date, which would allow long-term residents to adjust their status, as the United States has done six times since 1929. Once he speaks out on those issues, immigrants, their supporters and advocates then can determine that he is a different kind of Republican,” Butterfield said.


Cite as AILA Doc. No. 00062959.