A Nation of Immigrants

Co-written by Rep. Joe Garcia, Rep. Steven Horsford, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Suzan DelBene

The United States always has been, and always will be, a nation of immigrants. That fact is central to who we are -- as each generation leaves our country better off for the next, we do so not just for our children, but for newcomers, too.

Despite that rich tradition, Congress has not updated our immigration policies in three decades. In that time, visa backlogs grew to appalling lengths, creating an incentive to cross our borders illegally. Failure to address the issue not only risks undermining wages and protections for American workers, but also risks the creation of a permanent underclass as undocumented immigrants find work on the margins -- afraid of deportation if discovered and vulnerable to exploitation and unlivable wages.

Many others with advanced degrees in fields like science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), have their dreams of coming to America and creating jobs here cut short because we cap STEM visas far below demand for them. And kids who were raised here without documentation, often referred to as DREAMers, are growing up to discover they are boxed out of the only country they've ever known as home.

In June of this year, the Senate acted to fix this situation. More than two thirds of their members -- Democrats and Republicans -- voted for comprehensive immigration reform. The bill they passed creates an earned pathway for aspiring Americans to become our fellow citizens, removing the cloud of deportation for more than 11 million people. It ensures DREAM students will finally have a place in the country that has always been their rightful home. And it dramatically increases the number of highly skilled workers we welcome each year, ensuring the brightest minds from around the world can come here to innovate, create jobs and contribute to our economy.

Ever since that Senate vote in June, the American people looked to the House to follow suit. In the Senate, we saw compromise and good faith negotiations. But in the House, the promise of negotiations by the Gang of Seven gave way to polarization by the House Republican Conference. And while the Senate addressed immigration's complexities in a comprehensive package, House Republican leaders cherry picked the few reforms they were willing to address. This is no way to solve one of the greatest challenges of our time. The American people have waited long enough -- it's time for the House to act.

That's why we have introduced a new compromise bill in the House of Representatives. It includes the immigration reform bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate, along with a border security provision passed with bipartisan support in the House. Both parties have approved of these measures, so there is no reason why they should not pass as a comprehensive bill.

The Senate bill is by no means perfect. Like any compromise, we lost good provisions to the give and take of negotiations. But we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Senate bill would reduce our deficits by $850 billion, and improve Social Security's short- and long-term solvency. The economic benefits are coupled with the human impact of finally creating an immigration system that does not keep families apart or push bright minds away.

It falls to House Republicans to make comprehensive immigration reform happen - not because they are the only ones who can, but because so far, they are the only ones who have refused. Both parties in the Senate acted. Congressional Democrats consistently called for the House to do the same. We introduced our bill because the delays have gone on long enough. It's time for Republicans to meet Democrats at the negotiating table and help pass comprehensive immigration reform.