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Eight members of the House of Representatives write about Immigration Reform

March 13, 2013 - Posted by Mario Moreno

This morning, eight different members of the House of Representatives wrote op-eds on immigration reform. Check out what Reps. Schrader (D-OR), Bass (D-CA), Gutierrez (D-IL), Nadler (D-NY), Sanchez (D-CA), Barletta (R-PA), Carter (R-TX), and Bachus (R-AL) had to say:

The Hill (Blog): Faith, politics and comprehensive immigration reform
By Rep, Kurt Schrader
March 12, 2013

I just returned from Congressman John Lewis' "Faith and Politics Pilgrimage to Alabama" and was deeply moved by the experience. Fifty years ago, courageous Americans stepped out of their comfort zone and confronted an unjust segregation system that not only debased black America, but white America as well. I was struck by the intimate stories of complacency toward an immoral social norm by white businessmen and the church. I was amazed by the bravery of the black youth that saved a floundering downtown economic boycott in Birmingham, despite the water hoses and dogs of Bull Conner. I was entranced by the bravery of two black students willing to face a hate filled Governor George Wallace and a thousand others at the college doors in Tuscaloosa. I was overwhelmed with Dr. King's epiphany at the kitchen table in Montgomery late one night that he must conquer his fears and do what is morally right. I was in awe of the marchers on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma that knew they faced violent opposition on the other side, but marched and suffered horribly anyway.

Much like then, America now faces another soul searching moment surrounding an outdated, irrational and dehumanizing immigration system. One hundred years ago, America took all comers to its shores. Now, our byzantine immigration system encourages would be immigrants to put their livelihoods on the line in order seek the American dream. It makes criminals out of business owners and farmers for hiring folks to do work that no one else will do; work that Americans benefit from and take for granted everyday. And, it generates an unconscionable trade in human beings and human rights violations that operate in dark shadows, often beyond our legal and law enforcement systems.

The discussion about immigration is not about documented and undocumented immigrants. It is about the very nature of who we are as Americans — our beliefs, our morals and our need to share the unalienable rights our immigrant forefathers bequeathed upon us 238 years ago. The loud lack of acceptance among a vitriolic few diminishes hope in aspiring Americans and undermines the progress we have strived for since our country’s inception. Is this our Christian theology? Are these the values of our Declaration and Constitution? Is this how we raise our children?...

Schrader represents Oregon's 5th Congressional District. He also serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

NBC Latino (Opinion): Immigration reform must keep families together, protect children
By Rep. Karen Bass
March 12, 2013

A core principle of immigration reform must be a focus on protecting children of undocumented immigrants, who through no fault of their own can end up being ripped away from a loving home or denied the right to see a parent they primarily rely on to have their basic needs met.

This week marked a great leap forward as the Obama Administration began implementing a new federal immigration rule aimed at keeping “mixed status” families together.

Under the rule, certain undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can apply for a waiver from a 10-year ban for being in the United States unlawfully.

For a spouse who may be an undocumented immigrant, the rule gives them one more pathway to continue caring for their children and families who rely on their emotional and financial support.

The rule was first initiated by President Obama last year, in keeping with his pledge to take executive action on comprehensive immigration reform if Congress was unwilling to tackle this critically important issue.
Congress and the Administration must continue working together on a comprehensive immigration reform package, particularly a plan that keeps families together. This new rule is another step in the right direction but more must be done as the debate continues around immigration reform.

Every effort should be made before families are torn apart to make sure undocumented immigrants have access to their children and are able to continue providing for their families, who oftentimes would be left in dire straits if a loved one were to be deported or detained...

Congresswoman Karen Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Roll Call (Opinion): Two Parties Will Find a Way to Get Something Done This Year
By Rep. Luis Gutierrez
March 12, 2013

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus issued nine principles that will guide our thinking on an immigration rewrite. Now that the immigration debate is starting to take shape, it is worth reviewing them. So far, with few exceptions, the principles identified by the CHC are being adhered to. I have highlighted a few below.

• Legalization with a path to citizenship: For the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living here, there are no realistic choices available other than legalization. The Mitt Romney policy of “self-deportation” and Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws did not pass the laugh test. If anything, the fantasy that 11 million people and their families should leave the U.S. motivated Latinos and other immigration-sensitive (and reality-sensitive) voters to pull the lever for Democrats.

According to every poll, the American people strongly support citizenship for undocumented immigrants (including a Feb. 2013 Washington Post poll that found 70 percent support). Republicans are coalescing around a policy of not creating a “special path to citizenship” for the undocumented, in the words of Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va. As far as I can tell, what the Republicans want and what the Democrats want are not mutually exclusive. On this critical aspect of immigration policy, we will arrive at a compromise that both sides will see as acceptable, if not ideal.

• Protect the unity and sanctity of the family, including the families of binational, same-sex couples: Family unity is a core principle of America’s immigration history and should be a core principle of a policy overhaul. The massive increase in deportations over the past four years has taken a toll on American families. We will likely arrive at a mix of family- and business-based visas in whatever final package we pass. Visas for graduates of American universities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are popular on both sides, but so is a significant reduction in the waiting times for family-based immigration. Getting it right will be difficult. Republicans undervalue families and put a premium on skills. Democrats understand that unless our immigration policies comport with reality, they are likely to be inadequate or out-of-date quickly. Families support each other, spawn small businesses and facilitate integration. Modern families include same-sex couples, many of whom have children. Unless our immigration system accommodates that reality, it will not fully fix our immigration problems. Democrats and some Republicans are committed to fighting for the immigration rights of all families....

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., is a member of the Judiciary Committee and is chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force.

Roll Call (Opinion): Why We Must Pass the Uniting American Families Act
By Rep. Jerry Nadler
March 12, 2013

While there has recently been unmistakable momentum toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in parts of the country — with marriage equality for same-sex couples in nine states and D.C., federal cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the debate on an immigration overhaul — we cannot afford to pat ourselves on the back.

We still have laws — such as DOMA — that openly discriminate against LGBT Americans, and we have yet to extend basic civil rights protections at the federal level and in many states. LGBT Americans are still treated as second-class citizens in many ways, and they remain vulnerable to discrimination in critical areas such as employment and housing. And, of course, 39 states still prohibit gay and lesbian residents from marrying the person they love. Our collective failure to fully embrace our LGBT colleagues, neighbors and relatives within this nation’s great tradition of equality and freedom is an outrage that I have devoted much of my career to fixing.

One of the biggest, and most easily fixed, problems is the gratuitous harm that our immigration law inflicts on binational same-sex couples. Unlike other committed couples, which can sponsor partners for immigration purposes, our law treats devoted gay and lesbian couples as complete strangers...

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, and the lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.

Roll Call (Opinion): Massive Effort to Secure Borders Has Spanned Two Presidents
By Rep. Loretta Sanchez
March 12, 2013

As Democrats and Republicans continue to debate the most viable path to achieve a comprehensive immigration overhaul, both sides are staking their claim as to who has the better plan. As a member who has sat on the Homeland Security Committee since its inception, I have watched and participated in this debate and have witnessed both failures and successes. Many Republicans claim that nothing or little has been done to enforce the laws currently on the books or to secure our border.

I disagree, and today I want set the record straight.

As legislation to change our immigration system takes shape in the Senate, many Republicans are using the same old excuses, such as “we need to secure our borders first” or “President Obama has not done enough to enforce our current immigration laws” to prevent a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill from moving forward...

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., serves on the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.

Roll Call (Opinion): Secure the Borders Before Addressing Illegal Immigrants
By Rep. Lou Barletta
March 12, 2013

We have been presented with a false choice in the Washington-based debate over illegal immigration. On one hand, we are offered the Obama plan, conveniently leaked to the media, which offers permanent residency after a shockingly long eight years on probation. On the other, we have the “gang of eight,” who say citizenship lies at the end of an amorphous path following a declaration of secure borders by a yet-to-be-named commission. Both of these are unacceptable and fail to address the causes of illegal immigration and the massive costs associated with legalizing millions of people who have already broken our laws.

As mayor of Hazleton, Pa., I passed two significant ordinances. One suspended the licenses of businesses that knowingly hired illegal aliens, and the other enforced similar penalties on landlords who knowingly rented property to them. Those common-sense solutions are still tied up in court.

Because of my experiences, I refer to any proposals short of real enforcement as “temporary amnesty . . . indefinitely.” In 1986, we were told that if we granted amnesty to a mere 1.5 million illegal aliens, we would secure the border and be rid of the problem. In the end, more than 3 million came forward. Today, we are to believe that there are about 11 million, but when we wave the carrot of citizenship to the world, that number is sure to double, as history has shown it will...

Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., represents the state’s 11th District.

Roll Call (Opinion): Growing Expenses, Underclass Are the Unbearable Costs of Inaction
By Rep. John Carter
March 12, 2013

The Southwest border remains insecure. We have more than 11 million illegal immigrants in our nation and more coming every day. Neither of these facts is news. What is news is the growing bipartisan majority in Congress willing to do something about it.

The defining points of this debate are twofold: how to stop illegal immigration in the future and how to handle those 11 million folks who are already here. If we can agree on both, we can pass a bill in a divided Congress. To agree on both requires a secure border and a secure workplace.

The Obama administration would have you believe the border is secure. Anyone on the border knows that is absolute hogwash. The Border Patrol reports that 61 percent of an estimated 1 million people per year attempting to illegally cross the border succeed, meaning we aren’t stopping even half. Further, the current rate of illegal crossings is expected to swell dramatically as our economy improves, and we will see that apprehension rate crash back to pre-recession failure levels...

Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security and the Republican lead in the Bipartisan House Immigration Reform Working Group.

Roll Call (Opinion): Immigration Overhaul Promotes U.S. Economic Competitiveness
By Rep. Spencer Bachus
March 12, 2013

America is a nation of immigrants. In truth, our history cannot be told without the contributions of immigrants from everywhere in the world — sometimes with their families, sometimes all alone — to escape poverty and persecution, pursue their dreams, and live and work in a free country. Moving forward, we should remain true to our American heritage of being a welcoming place.

However, our current federal immigration system is badly broken and makes it difficult to honor both our best principles and our rule of law. With an immigration overhaul the center of a national discussion, the House Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., has begun what I hope will be a comprehensive look at our immigration system through a series of important hearings. The proper way to consider potential changes is through an open and deliberative legislative process.

During a full committee hearing on Feb. 5, I specifically asked witnesses representing divergent viewpoints on immigration changes whether our immigration policies should be based on our own national interests. The unanimous answer was yes...

Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.

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