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Cornyn issues call for reform - Texan tapped as - San Antonio Express-

News (TX) - January 13, 2005 - page 9A


January 13, 2005 | San Antonio Express-News (TX) | Gary Martin | News - National | Page 9A

Sen. John Cornyn on Wednesday was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on
immigration, which will oversee legislative efforts to reform and streamline current laws being
sought by President Bush.

Cornyn, R-T exas, received the chairmanship after lawmakers with more seniority opted for other
committee assignments in the 109th Congress.

He immediately called for a revision of immigration laws to meet new challenges in the wake of the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Reform is long overdue and, in a post 9-11 world, one of our most urgent responsibilities,"
Cornyn said.

Sens. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., moved to other panels, giving Cornyn, first
elected in 2002, seniority on the subcommittee, which oversees immigration policy, border security
and citizenship issues.

Cornyn will replace Chambliss as chairman.

"We must address the need for better border security and combat human smuggling and other
exploitation, while acknowledging the important contribution that immigrants make to our
economy," said Cornyn, who will give up his chairmanship of the subcommittee on Constitution,
civil rights and property rights.

Cornyn's switch was met with mixed reaction from groups involved in the immigration debate.

"We have very low expectations that Sen. Cornyn will represent what the American people want on
immigration, and that is based strictly on his voting record," said James Staudenraus with the
Federation f or American Immig ration Ref orm , which advocates tighter controls on
immigration.

Angela Kelley of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigrant policy group, said Cornyn's
ascension to chairman was "a hopeful sign."

As a border state lawmaker, Cornyn "sees the issue much like President Bush," Kelley said. "He
also understands that the system is broken and it needs to be reformed."

Cornyn filed a bill in the previous Congress that would create a guest worker program with
retirement accounts as an incentive to encourage foreign workers to leave after three years.
T he bill has been roundly criticized by pro-immigration groups and those who want to tighten
current immigration controls.

Bush, however, has incorporated many of the guest worker provisions in the Cornyn bill in the
presidential proposal to overhaul current laws to give immigrants more protections and connect
willing workers with employers.

"It's a high priority for the president," said Scott McClellan, White House spokesman. "T he
president has made it very clear that he intends to move forward on his reform proposals this
year."

Several other bills have been filed in the Senate, as well, including bipartisan legislation to bring
more agricultural workers into the United States.

Cornyn said that, as chairman of the subcommittee, he would work to ensure that "Congress
takes up the president's call for action on this issue now."

gmartin@express-news.net
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