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IMMIGRATION REFORM

The United States of America is a nation founded by immigrants, and we have a long tradition of providing sanctuary to those who have sought these shores hoping to achieve the American dream.

But, as we all know by now, there are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already inside our borders, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to live and work and raise their families in peace. Our immigration laws right now are not equipped to handle this issue. This is why, while I continue to support secure borders in the interest of national security, I believe that the best approach to immigration legislation right now is a comprehensive one. On their own, draconian border security measures would do nothing to address the millions of undocumented immigrants already here, and they would do next to nothing to make us more secure without additional steps to reform our visa processes.

At the very least, any immigration reform measures would have to secure the border while also offering some sort of path to legal status for the 11 million undocumented immigrants inside the U.S. So I continue to believe that the right thing to do from an economic and ethical standpoint is to bring them out of the shadows and into a legal status. I also hear from business leaders across the Bronx and Westchester that we need major reforms to our visa and work permitting systems as well if we as a nation are going to fill the jobs we need to fill to stay competitive.

So I believe that responsible action on immigration would do all three of these things - secure the border, reform the legal immigration processes, and provide a way for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here to attain legal status. The Senate passed just such a measure just last Congress - a measure I supported - but I was tremendously disappointed when Republicans in the House torpedoed it before it could reach the President's desk. It is my hope that Congress can begin to move forward on this issue again in the coming Congress.