Reforming Our Broken Immigration Systemby Former Representative Rush Holt
Posted on 2013-12-12
of new jersey
in the house of representatives
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, the time to reform our broken immigration
system is long overdue. Our system does not meet the needs of families
or businesses. I have met with people throughout our district to
understand what our uneven, unfair, and unjust immigration system costs
our businesses, our families, and our society at large--a cost to our
national ideals, as well as a cost in dollars and cents. I have joined
the group of dedicated activists who have for nearly a month been
fasting on the National Mall, in the shadows of the Capitol, to call
attention to the plight of the 11 million individuals who are Americans
but for a piece of paper. The time is now to bring them out of the
My colleagues may have noticed, as have various advocacy groups, that I have not signed on as cosponsor of H.R. 15, the legislation that has recently taken shape as the leading immigration reform bill. The fact of the matter is that we can, and we should, do better. I do support strongly the legislation authored by my friend and colleague from Arizona, Representative Raul Grijalva. It is a strong, progressive approach to reforming our broken system.
In fact, the Grijalva bill is superior to H.R. 15. It targets and prioritizes border enforcement in an intelligent way to where and how it is needed most--to protect us from serious criminals and terrorist threats. It improves conditions for immigrant detainees and protects family unity by prohibiting separation of families with children. It protects workers' rights and keeps immigration enforcement in the hands of the appropriate authorities--the federal government, not local police.
Whatever legislative vehicle immigration reform takes, it must contain a legal, controlled pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants who keep our economy moving and to repair a tear in our social fabric. It must promote family reunification by reducing two decade-long family backlogs and reuniting spouses, parents, and children to together pursue the American Dream. It must build on the success of President Obama's Deferred Action program and incorporate DREAMers--those who were brought to the U.S. at a young age through no wrongdoing of their own--into the mainstream of American society so they can continue to make beneficial contributions not only to our economy, but to our diverse society. It must satisfy the needs of American employers. And it must ensure smart, targeted, and reasonable immigration enforcement that protects American society from serious criminals and real threats.
H.R. 15 is not the bill I would have written--nor do I believe it is the bill that will ultimately become law--do not want to appear to be delaying reform. I call upon Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership to immediately bring to the floor for our consideration legislation to reform our immigration laws.
When it comes to something as important as fixing our broken immigration system, we should not settle for less than the American people deserve.