Leahy Continues Dialogue On Process For Immigration Reform; Letter To Senator Rubio

[Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) sent the following response Tuesday to Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) regarding the Committee’s process for considering immigration reform legislation. Senator Rubio had sent Senator Leahy a letter Sunday night concerning the Committee’s timeline for proceeding to legislation.

Senator Leahy said in January that the Committee would devote considerable time this spring to the issue of reforming the Nation’s immigration system, and he chaired the Senate’s first hearing on comprehensive immigration reform in February. An electronic copy of Senator Leahy’s letter to Senator Rubio can also be found online.]

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Dear Senator Rubio:

I received your letter delivered Easter Sunday evening.  Yours is the second open letter in March that I have received from a Republican Senator, each suggesting, in one way or another, that we slow the process for consideration of comprehensive immigration reform. 

While you have conducted the process of the ‘gang of eight’ behind closed doors, I can assure you that it has always been my position as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the work of the Committee should be open to the public so I have every intention of ensuring that debate and consideration of any future comprehensive immigration reform legislation will be thorough and will be conducted in open session and streamed live on the Judiciary Committee website.  I called for this public debate and committee consideration when I spoke at Georgetown University Law Center in January.  I hope that the American people will soon be able to review the legislation you and your seven fellow gang members have reportedly been working on for months.     

While we have been waiting for legislative language this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee has already held several widely-attended hearings to examine the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform, including extensive testimony from the Secretary of Homeland Security.  I hope these hearings have been useful as you have been developing your legislation. 

The Judiciary Committee is capable of swift and thorough action.  As soon as we have comprehensive immigration legislation to review, I will consider scheduling a hearing, in consultation with Senator Grassley, the Ranking Republican on Committee, and Senator Schumer, the Immigration Subcommittee Chair, to examine that proposal.  I will, however, remain mindful of the urgent need for us to actually get to the work of debating and considering amendments without unnecessary delay because this is an issue to which our attention is long overdue.  I am hopeful you recognize, as I do, that if we do not act quickly and decisively we will lose the opportunity we now have to fix our immigration system.  Those who have been committed to this effort for decades are counting on us and expect the Senate to act thoughtfully and without further delay.  I have little doubt we are capable of doing both and that our committee process will be, as is my practice, a full and open public debate of the legislation. 

By this summer, I hope that all members of the Senate will be able to vote for or against comprehensive immigration reform and that each member will take into consideration the significant process that the Senate Judiciary Committee will have completed.  The American people have grown tired of the endless filibusters that occur regularly in the Senate.  I look forward to working with you to overcome such obstruction in the weeks to come.  To this end, I would like to find time to sit down and discuss this with you and all the members of the gang of eight as soon as the Senate is back in session. 



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