Immigration Reformby Representative Mike Quigley
Posted on 2014-01-14
QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, 7 months ago, the Senate passed a
bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill, and for 7 months we
We have taken over 600 votes in the House of Representatives this Congress: finding the time to vote 46 times to overturn Obama administration; finding the time to pass nine bills that harm our environment; finding the time to twice pass bills that weaken our education system; finding the time to rename 40 post offices. But we haven't taken one vote, not a single vote, to advance immigration reform. We simply haven't found the time.
This despite the support of an overwhelming majority of Americans. This despite the support of interests as varied as labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce, high-tech companies, and faith leaders. This despite the CBO reporting that immigration reform will provide a much- needed jolt to the American economy.
With over half of the 113th Congress behind us, we have ignored one of the signature issues that the American people sent us here to solve. Sure, we have talked about immigration reform. We have even had our Gang of Eight on this side of the Capitol; but the old saying goes: talk is cheap.
Months of discussions by this Congress on one of the most important and complex issues in a generation have yielded only one point and one point only.
The only thing we have decided so far is that if we take on this issue, if we pass immigration reform, we will do it piece by piece. That is it. That is the only progress this body has made on this critical issue. We have made no substantive decisions about the fate of over 11 million people currently living their lives in legal limbo in this country--no substantive decision about whether their children, many of whom know no other country than this, will be sent thousands of miles away to live in a foreign country, separated from their families, denied the American Dream they fought so hard for, or even whether LGBT families will be torn apart.
The only progress we can point to at this time is instead of one large bill, we have decided on several small bills. If that is not definitive of a do-nothing Congress, I don't know what is.
But, okay, Mr. Speaker, you have convinced the President. If piecemeal is the only way we are going to pass immigration reform, then piecemeal it is. Here is the most important point. Where are the pieces? See, here is the thing: even if you are going to do something on a piecemeal basis, you still have got to do the first piece.
The second problem with a piecemeal approach is that you run the risk of cherry-picking, pushing through issues like increased border security, high-tech visas, while ignoring the harder decisions like providing a path to citizenship for the millions living in the shadows.
My friends on the other side of the aisle have introduced several immigration bills this Congress, with a few of them even passing out of committee; but not one bill has been offered that comes close to offering a pathway to citizenship.
While we may accept the piecemeal approach for the sake of getting something done, what we cannot accept--what we will not accept--is an approach that leaves a pathway to citizenship on the sidelines, because the pathway to citizenship remains the cornerstone of any serious immigration reform plan. The rest of the immigration reform structure is built around that piece. Without it, immigration reform will not stand. Without it, our system will remain broken.
The American people have called on us to fix our broken immigration system. At the very least, we owe it to them to give it a try. The window is still open; the opportunity is still there. We simply need to find the courage to complete the task.