Moving Comprehensive Immigration Reform Forward

Written by

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez
U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is proud to represent California's 46th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Garden Grove in Orange County. She began her congressional career in January of 1997 and is currently serving her ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. A product of public schools and Head Start, Sanchez is a graduate of Chapman University and American University's MBA program. Prior to serving in Congress, Sanchez worked in the financial markets, with firms including Booz Allen Hamilton and Fieldman Rolapp. Rep. Sanchez is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Blue Dog Coalition, the New Democrat Coalition, and the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. She is also co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Korea.

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) is urging Congress, in the wake of the government shutdown, to refocus on important issues such as comprehensive immigration reform.

Earlier this month, House Republicans held the American people hostage by shutting down the government and threatening default, all in a failed effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. Thankfully, we were able to find a bipartisan solution and the government is up and running again. That means we can begin to refocus on the many issues facing our country, including fixing our broken immigration system.

Congress may seem bitterly divided, but outside the Beltway support for comprehensive immigration reform is overwhelming. Over 85% of Americans believe it would be better to offer undocumented workers an opportunity to earn citizenship rather than deport them. What a bipartisan group of Members of Congress are proposing is not radical and it is not “amnesty.” There must be a pathway for the 11 million undocumented workers to earn citizenship by registering for legal status, paying taxes, learning English and getting behind those in line who came here legally. However, this country and Congress must remain faithful to the traditional American values that have made our country so great. Those values include keeping families together, striving for an education and creating a future where our kids are pillars of this country. We must not be about separating family members who are PTA moms, little league coaches and students who are simply trying to achieve their dream of getting a higher education.

If enacted, comprehensive immigration reform would be a tremendous boost to our national economy.  When the head of a household becomes a citizen, family income rises almost 14 percent on average. According to the Center for American Progress, legalizing undocumented immigrants currently in our country would grow our GDP by a cumulative increase of $832 billion over 10 years and would create 121,000 new jobs each year through the next decade.  We should encourage foreign students getting advanced degrees in the United States to stay with green cards, expand the H1-B visa program and implement a visa program for agricultural workers and for low-skilled, non-seasonal workers. These are common sense solutions that will boost our economy and continue to help us work out of the worst recession since the great depression. In fact, Startup Act 3.0, which I co-introduced earlier this year, contains many of the high skill visa reforms that have been included in the Senate passed legislation.

Earlier this year, the United States Senate overwhelming passed a sweeping immigration reform package with a vote of 68 to 32. Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House John Boehner has refused to bring it up for a vote for months. If the Speaker brought the House version of the bill – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act – it would pass with a bipartisan consensus and we could move forward with the immigration plan Americans want. It’s as simple as that.

Congress needs to emerge from this partisan tunnel and get into the light. Instead of continuing to break apart what’s working in our nation, it’s time we work on fixing what’s broken. We have stalled long enough and the American people have waited long enough; comprehensive immigration reform’s day has come. The time is now.

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