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 have 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. I have introduced the newest version of this bill as HR 6, The Dream and Promise Act, which includes protections and a path to citizenship not just for Dreamers, but for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries as well. The House passed this legislation as one of the Democratic priority bills on June 4, 2019. The bill awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
In addition, I have authored or co-authored several bills to support humane treatment of immigrant families and children. These include The Protect Family Values at the Border Act, to require basic humane treatment standards for immigrants in Customs and Border Protection custody; The Help Separated Families Act, to help keep children of detained or deported parents united with their families; The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act, to expand protections for vulnerable children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection; and The HELP Separated Children Act, to protect the safety and well-being of minor children who have been left alone and vulnerable following the arrests or detainment of their parents by U.S. immigration authorities.
I also 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.