My Polish and Irish roots taught me the essential strength of our country – the ability to draw people from all over the world and assimilate them into a unique American character while allowing immigrant communities to also retain traditions and customs on their homeland. The story of America’s greatness is rooted in our immigrant history – our commitment to bring people here from every corner of the world. As other countries’ populations grow older, sapping them of working age adults and burdening public budgets with waves of retirees, America’s average age remains low because of our commitment to robust immigration. Those who try to turn our country against immigrants are not only preying on the worst kind of prejudice, but also ignoring the economic imperative of immigration.
There is no doubt that our immigration system needs to be fixed. Our nation’s appetite for cheap labor led to the current crisis of millions of undocumented people living in the shadows of our communities. This is unacceptable, and is why I support the kind of comprehensive immigration reform that passed the Senate during my first year in the chamber. The bill that I voted for – and hope to have the chance to vote for again – significantly tightened border security; created a tough but fair path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States; deployed a quick and effective employment verification system for businesses to prevent identity theft and prevent future illegal hires; and pioneered an improved process to admit foreign workers that does not harm employment opportunities for American workers. Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform not just because it’s good for our economy and communities, but because it’s the right thing to do.
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