The time is ripe for this Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform for the sake of our economy, jobs and millions of hopeful Americans.
A bipartisan Senate group is currently working on a comprehensive plan they hope to introduce this spring. The framework they have put forward is fair and sensible.
There needs to be a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Special pathways are needed for the children of immigrants, who were brought to the United States through no action of their own, and for migrant workers, who are integral to the operation of our agricultural economies. The pathway to citizenship should require a background check, followed by a probationary period where immigrants learn English, pay back taxes and work before getting in the line for full citizenship.
The pathway to citizenship should be built upon improvements to border control and the legal immigration system. We have already drastically reduced illegal border crossings with massive investments in border security in the last four years. Investments in technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance, a functional and mandatory employment verification system and better tracking of people entering and exiting the United States is also essential. Many immigrants have simply overstayed their visas.
Additionally, the legal immigration system must be reformed to reflect our values and the needs of our modern economy. The visa system must admit innovative job creators and their families to the United States and also needs a better low-tech guest worker program, especially for agricultural workers. In doing so, we must ensure that the rights of all workers, both Americans and immigrants, are protected.
I am hopeful we can do this because the outline proposed by Senators from both parties includes all those essential elements and has the blessing of the President to move forward. My colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are also optimistic about the prospects of this outline becoming a solid legislative proposal. However, we do not yet have legislative language and there are voices of dissent.