Our immigration system is broken and both parties are to blame. But now is not the time for pointing fingers and inciting division—now is the time for solutions.
For hundreds of years, people from across the world have traveled to America in search of opportunity and a better way of life. The United States continues to serve as a beacon of hope for individuals and families determined that tomorrow will be brighter than today.
We are also a nation of laws. Generations of new American families have waited in line, completed mountains of paperwork, and followed strict rules to secure a spot in the greatest country on Earth. Moving forward, we must stress respect for the law—but also recognize that existing law simply isn’t working.
Of the 11 to 12 million individuals currently in the country without documentation, approximately 40 percent of them entered the United States legally using valid work permits, visas, or other means. Our inability to ensure that these individuals remained in the country with legal documentation is perhaps the best example of why our system needs reform.
Immigrants play a critical role in our communities—they attend school with our children, serve in our military, and worship in our churches. They contribute significantly to the economy, especially in my home state of Colorado as employees, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
That’s why it’s so important to get immigration reform right. We must strengthen border security, but border security isn’t complete without a strong guest worker program. Streamlining our visa programs, especially for STEM workers, and promoting legal immigration are also critical elements of reform.
Eliminating bureaucracy and red tape is beneficial for immigration reform and would help reduce the skyrocketing national debt. These are only a few of the solutions where we can find bipartisan agreement on moving forward sensible immigration reform.
Unfortunately, President Obama has indicated that he may circumvent Congress and issue yet another immigration-related executive order. This would further erode trust between President Obama and House Republicans and send a message to the newly-elected Senate that he is unwilling to cooperate on this issue.
We have reached a point where prospective immigrants still see hope and opportunity in this country, but where our laws and outdated systems have fallen behind. While some efforts at reform have failed, I remain confident that Congress and the President can find common ground on this issue.
As we near the start of the new Congress, I urge the President not to issue this executive order and ask him to work with me and other Members interested in enacting long-term solutions to immigration reform. It’s time to set aside partisan bickering and focus on what has made this country so strong.
Cory Gardner currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives and was recently elected to represent Colorado in the U.S. Senate starting in January.
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