Ours has always been a nation of immigrants. From Albert Einstein and Google's Sergey Brin to the millions of ordinary people with an extraordinary belief in the American Dream, immigrants built this country. But today, our immigration system is broken.
President Obama has made it clear from the beginning that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority. In his first term, the Obama administration put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in U.S. history, and today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. Enforcement efforts were focused on criminals who entered illegally, and deportation of criminals is at its highest level ever. And the President and Democrats have stood on the side of DREAMers, high-achieving young people who were brought to this country as children.
But there's far more to be done to fix the system—and we need Congress to act. There's reason to hope this time: For the first time in years, Republicans are joining Democrats on a bipartisan approach to comprehensive immigration reform, and it's in line with the principles that President Obama outlined in a speech yesterday. But our representatives in Congress need to know that we stand behind comprehensive reform that:
1. Keeps strengthening our borders.
2. Cracks down on businesses that hire undocumented workers.
3. Holds undocumented immigrants accountable in order to earn their citizenship. This means having undocumented workers pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks.
4. Updates the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.
This is a blueprint to fix our broken immigration system in a way that requires everyone to take responsibility and ensures everyone plays by the rules.
But as the debate heats up, it's important to remember that the lives and futures of millions of people are at stake. There are 11 million people currently living in the shadows. As President Obama said, "Remember that this debate isn’t just about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story. Throughout our history, that has only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last: an American century."
If you want Congress to pass comprehensive immigration, add your name.