Our broken immigration system has been coined a “third rail” of politics because both sides tend to politicize it instead of compromising on a solution. I believe Congress must act with a realistic view to address border security and reform our broken immigration process.
I have worked in good faith with Democrats and Republicans in Congress as well as the White House toward a solution to address concerns on both sides. The bottom line is that Congress must approve immigration reform that President Trump will sign into law.
Any solution must strongly secure our Southern border and fairly address kids brought to the U.S. as children, like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. DACA-eligible recipients won’t receive long-term legal certainty unless Congress acts to change the law. I have cosponsored and voted on legislation to address DACA and secure our border.
The President laid out priorities for reform: certainty for Dreamers, increasing border security, closing loopholes, and ending the visa lottery system. All four were agreed to in principle by Republican and Democratic leaders. When the time came to address those priorities in law, Democrats chose to step away from the table.
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The framework of H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act, which failed in the House last week, was based on those same priorities.
By refusing to support funding for President Trump’s border security plan agreed to by Democratic leaders, which was one of his campaign promises as well as a principal reason Americans elected him, Democrats opted out of the debate. They withheld support from any legislation the President would sign into law even after he made the extraordinary offer to provide a path to citizenship for millions of DACA-eligible individuals.
On the other side, a minority of Republicans is determined to block any legislation that would give long-term legislative certainty to recipients of DACA status, despite President Trump’s commitment to “resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion.”
I pushed for a vote on compromise legislation to address every requirement President Trump and a bipartisan group agreed to in an immigration bill, and the President urged the House to pass it.
The bill entailed increasing border security and closing loopholes while providing a compassionate solution for DACA-eligible recipients and addressing the situation of families separated at the border. Of the many DACA recipients in Central Washington I have met, none have asked for a symbolic vote. They asked for certainty, and I am committed to a solution that can be signed into law. No one should be playing politics with the lives of these young people.
Unfortunately, one of the worst aspects of Congress is the desire of some to keep a crisis alive for short-term gain instead of coming together to solve it, and the fact that the compromise legislation I cosponsored did not pass the House means that we will continue to struggle with a broken immigration system until we can agree to fix it.
I have seen both sides of our broken immigration system firsthand. I have met hundreds of DACA recipients in Washington state and been compelled by their stories and desire to contribute to our communities.
Just on Friday, I visited the Southern border and spoke with Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who pointed out the challenges they face every day. I saw firsthand that they need more technology, infrastructure, and personnel.
It was also clear they need Congress’s help to update our immigration laws that currently create challenges on enforcement and encourage illegal immigration. We also need a whole-of-government approach to work with the countries many of these migrants are leaving. It is clear from my tour that border security and immigration reform must go hand in hand. Both ends of the spectrum require legislative compromise.