Thursday, 13 Nov 2014 08:44 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has denounced President Barack Obama's "my-way-or-the-highway" approach to immigration reform and urged him instead to enforce the law and work with Congress to enact "lasting" new legislation.

"There is a viable path to meaningful immigration reform, but it does not begin with executive amnesty," Hatch, the current ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a column for Politico Magazine.

"The president must abandon his my-way-or-the-highway approach and instead work constructively with Congress. He must reject unilateralism and demonstrate a willingness to enforce the law, even when he may prefer a different policy outcome."

He continued, "Obama's promise to make further unilateral changes to our nation's immigration policy breeds mistrust and makes meaningful legislative reform even harder to achieve. Rebuilding this broken trust won't be easy. But it is critical to the ultimate success of real immigration reform."

Hatch's comments came just as a report surfaced that the president plans to take 10 executive actions that could suspend deportations for and legalize more than 5 million illegal immigrants as early as next week.

Instead of unilateral actions, Hatch called on Obama to support the bipartisan Immigration Innovation ("I-Squared") Act he introduced with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, Florida Republican Marco Rubio, and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons.

Hatch says the bill provides a "thoughtful, lasting legislative framework" that would increase the number of H-1B visas to attract the highly skilled workers and innovators Obama said the United States so desperately needed in his 2013 State of the Union speech.

"Obama and Senate Democrats have insisted on comprehensive immigration reform or no legislation at all," the senator wrote.

"I am not opposed to a comprehensive approach. In fact, I joined many colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support just such a bill in the Senate last year.

"But building support for the ultimate immigration reforms our country needs has not been easy. To overcome a challenging political environment, we must first show that legislating in this area is even possible.

"And it will require trust that the difficult compromises we must make will be honored and enforced when they are enacted into law."

Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator on the Judiciary Committee, said that with his proposed executive orders, Obama has failed to live up to his constitutional duty "to take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

"This failure has undermined any confidence that Congress might have had in his willingness to enforce the laws we enact," he wrote.

"He must drop his insistence on immediate comprehensive reform, especially when individual elements — like our high-skilled bill — can win broad support and help pave the way for additional and more far-reaching reforms in the near future."

Hatch concluded by saying, "A concrete legislative victory where there is already considerable consensus would help build trust and goodwill among those who disagree sharply over other areas of immigration policy. And it would mark a critical first step along the path to broader reform."