COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM IN THE 113TH CONGRESS AND LOOKING FORWARD
During the 113th Congress, pressure was placed on Washington to a greater extent than anytime in the past thirty years, to finally pass a comprehensive immigration reform package that would fix an immigration system that all Americans understand is broken. The U.S. Senate passed a bill, on a bipartisan basis. S. 744, the "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" [La Reforma migratoria bipartidista] was sent to the U.S. House. Unfortunately, despite dozens of members on both sides of the aisle calling for the debate, Republican leadership failed to allow a vote on the bill, or even a fair debate.
Time after time, research has shown that fixing the entire immigration system is the only way to truly grow our economy and secure our borders. Comprehensive immigration reform would supercharge our economy by creating more than 100,000 jobs a year over the next ten years and reducing our deficit by $900 billion.
Our country has always been a nation of immigrants and the current system is in desperate need of reform. Eleven million people currently work and raise families in our communities without the possibility of one day becoming citizens of the United States. We need comprehensive immigration reform to create a fair and practical path to citizenship.
These reforms will strengthen our economy and increase our competitiveness in the global marketplace. They will also protect our families who live in constant fear of being separated from their loved ones. Undocumented immigrants in our communities cannot achieve their full potential without having the opportunity to earn legal status.
Changing the way our nation deals with immigration is not just about fixing the broken immigration system we have been saddled with, it's also about making certain that those who immigrate to the United States, legally, are a ready, willing and able workforce. It was with that in mind that I joined my Republican colleague Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Florida, and introduced the New American Success (NAS) Act in 2014. The NAS Act would help speed the integration of new Americans into society, ensuring each immigrant has access to programs that will help them learn or improve their English skills, civics education and other initiatives to help assist them in quickly adapting to their new nation while they participate in naturalization.
Because of Republican unwillingness to grow our economy and fix our broken immigration system, the President took action in the fall of 2014. Through executive action, President Obama took fair, legal and straightforward steps to move our country forward by keeping workers who have proven their worth working hard in this country; allowing children who know only one home the opportunity to stay here and contribute to society; and encouraging students who study at our colleges to remain here and put their new skills to work through innovation and building the businesses of the future.
I proudly joined Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, who launched a national tour to educate immigrants and allies about what the President announced, how applicants can prepare, and how everyone else can help make the initiative a success. Rep. Gutiérrez joined me at an event in the Valley in March where more than 100 immigrants learned about their options and apply for relief through President Obama's executive action programs.