The United States is a nation of immigrants. Historically, people have come to the U.S. to find relief from religious, political, and economic oppression, and our country has benefited greatly from their contributions. Immigrants are business owners, teachers, first responders, caretakers, and more. They enrich the diverse fabric of our country and help grow our economy.
Regrettably, our current immigration system is broken and in desperate need of comprehensive reform. The current system ignores the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, fails to attract and retain workers needed to keep our country competitive, and is stuck with lengthy immigration visa backlogs that are an obstacle in reuniting Americans with their loved ones living abroad.
With an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and a range of industries heavily dependent on their services, our immigration challenges cannot be solved through tougher enforcement measures alone. We need a common-sense solution – one that provides a pathway to legalization for those already in this country, and a sensible guest worker program for those seeking to come here. Under the comprehensive immigration reform proposals I support, immigrants who undergo a rigorous background check, learn English, pay any back taxes they owe, and demonstrate strong moral character would eventually be eligible to earn the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship.
With those values in mind, I created the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, whose core mission is to ensure that women and children's voices are also included in immigration reform. The Women’s Working Group brings together women in Congress and groups advocating for women’s rights to address the unique challenges women face in our immigration system.
I also introduced legislation to specifically address some of our immigration system’s most egregious shortcomings. For example, I was the original co-author of the DREAM Act, along with former Congressmen Howard Berman and Chris Cannon. This legislation would enable millions of undocumented young people to fulfill their God-given potential, give back to their communities, and ultimately obtain U.S. citizenship. It would also serve our national interest by reducing the deficit, contributing to our country’s economic growth, and enabling our armed services to meet their recruiting goals.
It is well past time to fix our broken immigration system. I will continue to fight for a system that treats citizens and noncitizens fairly, and that keeps families together.