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Hatch Introduces Immigration Bill… ‘For Show?’

Like Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced an immigration bill last night just before the Senate shut down for its pre-election recess. There was little time to act on the bills — each was referred to committee — and they will likely both die there. But being on the verge of unveiling his own immigration legislation didn’t stop Hatch from criticizing Menendez’s timing: “Anything done in this time period is just for show,” he told Politico Tuesday.

Hatch’s legislation, unlike Menendez’s, focuses primarily on ensuring immigration laws are enforced. The bill would force police agencies to deputize their officers as immigration agents or face an end to their federal funding. (Some communities ardently oppose such policies and have removed themselves from other immigration enforcement programs.) The bill would also step up border security and workplace enforcement.

Hatch said his constituents demanded him to act on immigration enforcement. “It is clear in my talks with law enforcement officials and concerned citizens across Utah that much more remains to be done,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Immigration advocacy groups were critical of the bill, calling it “dog whistle rhetoric” to gin up his base. “His bill doesn’t offer serious solutions,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said in a press release. “Instead it duplicates work already being done on enforcement and won’t solve the crisis it purports to address.”

It’s fairly standard — and tiresome — for politicians to accuse the other side of pushing needless action for political purposes. But in this case, the irony seems worth noting. Here’s Hatch’s full quote to Politico:

And Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who previously sponsored the DREAM Act but doesn’t support it now, called it nothing more than a “cynical ploy for votes.”

“Sooner or later, we’ve got to do it, but anything done in this time period is just for show,” Hatch told POLITICO. “Apparently, [Menendez] thinks there is some benefit, but it is cynical and it’s not right to do it at this point. And it’s very unlikely for it to have any success. In fact, it’s impossible.”’

Note: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated Hatch is up for reelection in November. It has been updated to remove this sentence.

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