From our founding and at our very core, America has always been a nation of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have made great contributions to our nation. From their labor building the transcontinental railroad and developing our nation's infrastructure, to their entrepreneurship spurring industry in our early American cities, we should all know by now that 'immigrant' is not a dirty word. Looking toward our future with our aging workforce and social security crisis, we need the contributions of immigrants, now more than ever.
The current immigration system is broken. Because of backlogs and bureaucratic delays, some must wait years, sometimes decades, to reunite with their family members who are eligible to legally immigrate to the United States. Immigrants are often deprived of due process rights that are fundamental to America's notion of liberty.
Those in detention for civil immigration violations often face inadequate medical care, and we have seen many deaths this past year. We need to bring our undocumented population out of the shadows, so that they can contribute and help rebuild America's economy, safely and without fear of being separated from their families.
Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 717)
Family immigration must remain a cornerstone of our immigration system. That is why I introduced the Reuniting Families Act to reduce the visa backlog for legal immigrants and ensure our families – all our families – can be reunited. Additionally, this bill also eliminates discrimination in immigration law against same-sex, permanent partners and their families who are seeking to reunite. To learn more about H.R. 717 and my reasons for introducing it, please click here. Follow this legislation here.
Strengthen and Unite Communities through Civics Education and English Skills Act of 2013 (H.R. 1258)
I have introduced legislation to provide opportunities for immigrants to gain the vital English skills needed to succeed, contribute to our economy, and pursue the American Dream. This bill will help our economy remain competitive, protect our workers, and incentivize immigrant integration through English and civics education. To learn more about H.R. 1258, and my reasons for introducing it, please click here. Follow this legislation here.
Comprehensive Reform is Needed
I believe in humane reform that respects the dignity of immigrant communities and recognizes their contributions to American society. We can make America stronger by upholding our values and principles and honoring the entrepreneurial spirit of the American dream – with freedom and opportunity on our shores. President Obama acted with great leadership and compassion by implementing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), shielding over a million young immigrants from deportation. Deferred action policy offers a glimpse of the potential possible after passing the related, but more comprehensive, Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, including the addition of $329 billion to the U.S. economy and 1.4 million new jobs by 2030.
Now, Congress must move forward with a comprehensive immigration reform plan, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure a just, humane and workable immigration system that honors families, respects human dignity, and strengthens our economy.
The recent Senate bill, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, is a tremendous step toward honoring our nation's legacy as a land of opportunity. I commend the Senate bi-partisan working group for enhancing the employment visa system, increasing the pool of green cards available to foreign-born science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates, addressing visa backlogs, forging a path to citizenship for undocumented communities, and incorporating the DREAM Act and elements of my Reuniting Families Act. I will continue to champion immigration reform that strengthens our economy and supports the labor needs of U.S. businesses and Silicon Valley.
I will also continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate and House to ensure that family reunification is prioritized as the bill moves through the legislative process. I will also work to ensure that a reform bill eliminates discrimination in immigration law against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and their foreign-born partners. The family is the basic unit of our society, and strong immigrant families start businesses, create jobs, and contribute to our nation's social and economic fabric.
As a Member of the Appropriations Committee, I will fight to protect those programs which positively and inclusively support new citizens and their integration, while holding accountable those programs that threaten our civil rights and justice.
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