Comprehensive Immigration Reformby Representative Eric Swalwell
Posted on 2013-07-17
SWALWELL of California. Madam Speaker, I want to thank the
gentleman from California, Congressman Cardenas, for leading on this
issue and for bringing together the freshman class on an issue that is
important not just in California but across the country--the question
about comprehensive immigration reform and whether it means jobs.
We know that it's the right thing to do to welcome the 11 million undocumented immigrants into our country and to put them on a pathway to citizenship. We also know that it's good for our economy, and I am happy to be here today to talk about this. Everyone agrees right now that our immigration system is broken. It must be reformed, not in a piecemeal manner, but comprehensively to meet the needs of the 21st century.
I represent a very diverse area, which includes the cities of Hayward, Union City, Fremont, Castro Valley, and San Lorenzo, California, among other cities. In those cities are some of the 11 million undocumented individuals. These are hardworking folks who come here for the same reason that our ancestors came--to make life better for themselves, their families, and their children. We should welcome that. We should embrace that they are choosing to come here to America rather than to go to other countries. It's a very good thing.
Tragically, right now, these undocumented workers are in the shadows, putting them at risk for exploitation [[Page H4580]] and allowing for the unscrupulous employer to drive down wages for everyone. It's time to bring them into the open, to provide them legalized status, and to allow them to earn citizenship.
We also need to reform our legal immigration process. For example, we need to stop forcing people who come here and study in America--in our classrooms and in our colleges--and become skilled workers in the U.S. to leave the country just when they want to stay and contribute. Not only is making these changes the morally right thing to do; but as my colleagues have been saying and will say tonight, it adds up for our economy.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analyzed the bipartisan Senate bill and found it would increase our GDP by 5.4 percent in 2033, or $1.4 trillion. It's not just the CBO. A paper published in 2012 by the Cato Institute found that comprehensive immigration reform would raise wages, increase consumption, create jobs, and generate additional revenue. It calculated a smaller benefit than did the CBO, but it's at least $1.5 trillion in extra GDP over 10 years.
Comprehensive immigration reform is not only the morally right thing to do; it's the economically correct thing to do to get America's economy moving again, and I am honored to stand with my colleagues today to push for this needed reform.