Responsible reform of our broken immigration system is long overdue. Countless men and women across America lack legal status but contribute to our communities and our country and we should create the means for them to come out of the shadows.
With more than 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 comprehensible 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.
While I continue to press for a sweeping set of reforms, I have also introduced legislation to specifically address some of our immigration system’s most egregious shortcomings. For example, HR 1842, the DREAM Act I co-authored with Congressman Howard Berman 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 economic growth and enabling our armed services to meet their recruiting goals.
In addition, I have introduced legislation—HR 933, the Immigration Fairness and Oversight Act—to combat the widespread pattern of abuse in America’s immigrant detention system. This bill will strengthen and codify existing detention standards, ensuring that every detainee has access to legal advice and necessary medical care. It will also bring robust oversight and new accountability to a system that for too long has escaped close scrutiny.
The Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act (H.R. 1215)
Provides all immigration detainees with basic minimum protections including access to medical care, phones, and legal representation by establishing legally enforceable immigration detention standards in place of the current system of non-binding and inconsistently applied guidelines. The measure also provides special protections for unaccompanied children and other particularly vulnerable detainees while expanding the use of cost-saving alternatives to detention.