Congressman Blumenauer applauds President Obama's renewed efforts to overhaul our broken immigration system and is eager to make progress last year. Reforming our immigration policy will not be easy, but that’s no excuse for inaction. It’s long past time for Congress to act on a comprehensive solution.
Blumenauer believes that any comprehensive immigration bill he will ultimately support must address the issue of the 11 million people currently living in the US without documentation by giving them a clear path to citizenship, something that three-quarters of all Americans support. The Congressman supports these law-abiding, tax-paying residents of the United States, who are already part of the fabric of American life and society, especially young people who are Americans in every way but for their papers.
It is of particular interest to the Congressman to ensure that children who were brought to the United States by their parents are given a chance to achieve permanent resident status. While the Obama Administration is providing commendable assistance through the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Congressman is committed to a full legislative solution for these residents. He is a strong advocate for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or “DREAM” Act, giving a path to citizenship to children who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, who have demonstrated achievement, and who demonstrate good moral character. He believes enacting these changes will not only strengthen the economy, but align our practices with established notions of basic fairness and inclusion, which is a bedrock of American history.
A comprehensive immigration bill must also reduce wait-times for people trying to follow our immigration laws and reunite their families. Simplifying and stabilizing an effective guest worker program will protect workers and businesses, strengthening security and border control against drug cartels, and give employers in all business sectors the resources they need to hire a legal workforce, especially those educated in the United States and graduating from our colleges with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or math.
Immigration rules have a substantial effect on the competitiveness of our agricultural industry. This industry needs a stable and legal workforce to continue providing the food that every American family depends on. An important aspect of immigration reform will be resolving this debate in farming communities across the country. This is why Congressman Blumenauer supports the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, which is also supported by a wide range of immigration leaders, labor unions, civil rights organizations, religious groups, employers, and farmworkers.
In Oregon, agriculture is a $356 billion industry, which is why the Congressman supports reforming the H-2A visa program that allows workers into the country to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural work, ensuring our farmers have the employees they need for each season’s crop. It is critical that any reform in this area also include an assurance of fair pay for these seasonal workers. The recent House hearing on the H-2A visa, and a joint statement from business and labor groups made it clear that both sides and parties are willing and able to make agricultural visas fair and more effective.
As a longtime champion for LGBTQ equality in our nation’s laws, Congressman Blumenauer recognizes that the current immigration system does not include any provisions for same sex couples, so gay and lesbian citizens have no process in which to naturalize their partners and keep families together.In the 113th Congress, he cosponsored the Reuniting Families Act, and the Uniting American Families Act, Congressman Blumenauer hopes to end this discrimination. These pieces of legislation create a new “permanent partner” category for immigrants so that couples in committed, long-term relationships are afforded the same opportunities as heterosexual couples.
Congressman Blumenauer believes the immigration debate and subsequent solutions should encompass the reasons people are compelled to come to the United States. One of the most effective ways to curb the influx of people emigrating from their own countries is to improve conditions abroad. He passionately supports policies that will advance the quality of life in other countries, not only for humanitarian reasons, but because it assists the United States from a national security and immigration perspective.
A humane and thoughtful approach to immigration reform is long overdue. Blumenauer will continue to support legislation from both sides of the aisle while comprehensive reform takes shape this year.