There is a conservative narrative that undocumented immigrants are a burden on our society. This is categorically false.
Undocumented immigrants currently pay an estimated $7 billion in Social Security, for which they receive no benefits and over $23 billion in Federal Income Tax (2015 numbers). Our economy is heavily dependent on their production. More than anything they are subject to the abuses of our society. For these reasons, among others, Immigration Reform is long overdue.
What steps do we take to reform our outdated laws?
Grant citizenship to veterans, and the families of veterans, who have honorably served. The US doesn’t track the numbers of those who have been deported but the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has documented at least 3,000 cases. This is wrong and must be remediated. If anyone deserves the right to be an American, it is those who risk their lives for us. More than our thanks for their service, we owe these heroes an expedited path to citizenship.
The rights of Dreamers have been addressed in Congress. I support the measures passed in the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. These measures include improvements that place caps on fees, eligibility for apprenticeships and technical education, and the removal of the arbitrary barrier for “extreme” hardship qualifications for Lawful Permanent Resident status. As is the case with so many issues, there is legislation that addresses a real problem. The greater problem is a do-nothing, obstructionist Senate, led by Mitch McConnell. We can do great things in the House, we need voters to eliminate the dead weight of the GOP majority in the Senate as well.
When we witnessed ICE cruelly separating families, and read the stories of children stranded at school, lost from their parents who might never see them again — we became acutely aware of the ways our current policies divide families. These tactics are protected by Presidential order and they illustrate clearly that the GOP is no longer the party of “Family Values.”
I support the Reuniting Families Act. This act includes language striking the 7% limit on visas granted by country. This limit has its roots in the openly bigoted Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, which sought to expand on the prejudice of the Chinese Exclusion Act and preserve the racial homogeneity of the US. A hundred years later, it’s more than past time to put the racial prejudices of the 1920s behind us. It is time to fully commit to the idea of family and ensure that our definition of “family” encompasses the great diversity that we are all privileged to be a part of.
The United States, at its inception, was conceived on the idea of Asylum. Our country was established as a beacon of hope, some have adopted the phrase “city on a hill,” for those seeking opportunity, shelter and safety. It’s why we have been traditionally sought, above all the nations of the world. It is a denial of our purpose and an abandonment of our responsibility as human beings to turn our backs on the ethics that were meant to make us great.
To that end, we must reevaluate our asylum laws and ensure we are protecting humanity from danger. This includes dangerous governments and dangerous individuals (domestic violence and abuse).
We must also consider our own responsibility in creating this danger and own our obligations. These updates to law do not mean open borders. In some case, they will go hand and hand with providing resources to ensure we are protecting all people from human trafficking.
I will work to ensure our budget is responsible and the laws we enforce make sense fiscally. It should be noted that border crossing illegally is a misdemeanor. The cost of pretending this offense is greater, to appease nationalist extremists, is not a sound allocation. The FBI, which actively protects us from real threats requiring specialized intel, had a budget of $8.9B in 2019. ICE, which is known chiefly for grabbing crying children away from unarmed parents, had a budget of $8.8B. This makes no sense. I will push for greater accountability and budgets that protect real people.