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.
Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744)
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.
Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 717)
In 2013, I introduced the Re-Uniting 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. Family immigration must remain a cornerstone of our immigration system.
Strengthen and Unite Communities through Civics Education and English Skills Act of 2013 (H.R. 1258)
In 2013, I introduced the Strengthen and Unite Communities through Civics Education and English Skills Act 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.
Deferred Action Policies and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (H.R. 1842)
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.
I co-sponsored the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act which included 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.
More on Immigration
I was pleased to join President Obama and other immigration advocates and leaders in the AAPI community at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco today to stress the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform. It will take his leadership – as well as the voices of all those across our nation yearning for commonsense immigration policy – to push for a vote in the House of Representatives. For far too long, our undocumented brothers and sisters have remained in the shadows and repeatedly been denied their chance at the American Dream.
Back in August, I delivered a letter to President Barack Obama signed by 33 of my colleagues, asking him to grant humanitarian parole to the DREAM 9 and allow them to remain permanently in the United States. This past September, a second group of brave undocumented immigrants, clad in caps and gowns, crossed through a port of entry in Laredo, Texas, in an effort to continue to shed light on the need for our country to fix the broken immigration system.
Because of the inability of the Republican House majority to pass a budget unless it denies life-saving healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, the federal government shut down at midnight tonight. Unfortunately, this means that many services that our citizens rely on – including IRS call centers, regulatory agencies, and certain functions of the Social Security Administration and Small Business Administration – will be closed until a funding agreement can be reached. I plan to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on a resolution, and hope Congress can get back to the
Washington, D.C. Earlier today, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) delivered a letter to President Obama, co-signed by 33 members of Congress, asking him to grant humanitarian parole and allow nine DREAM Act-eligible young adults to remain permanently in the United States. Members of the "DREAM 9" as they have become known in the media were detained at an Arizona border crossing last week attempting to reenter the U.S. from Mexico in a protest that has gained national attention. All nine were brought to the United States at a young age and consider this country their only home.