I am proud of America's commitment to welcoming immigrants. We are all immeasurably enriched by the contributions of immigrants who have come to this country to find the American dream through their hard work. Our immigration system is broken, and it is past time that we came together and implemented an effective policy which respects our immigrant heritage, the rule of law, and human dignity. That is what I am committed to achieving.
A comprehensive solution to our immigration crisis must include strengthening our borders, greater cooperation with our neighbors, strict but fair enforcement of our laws, federal assistance to state and local governments, strict penalties for those who exploit undocumented workers, and a path to earned legal status for those who are here, working hard, paying taxes, respecting the law, and willing to meet a high bar, including learning English. The solution must also protect the sanctity of families and repair the broken, unfair bureaucratic system that forces citizens and lawful immigrants to live apart from their spouses and children.
I was a strong supporter of the efforts to negotiate a comprehensive immigration reform package in the last two sessions of Congress. Earlier this year, I introduced a bipartisan measure to reunite hundreds of thousands of lawful permanent residents in this country with their spouses and minor children. I have also led efforts for the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act, championed the Access to Employment and English Acquisition Act, and co-sponsored the DREAM Act, which makes it possible for hardworking young people to attend college. Finally, I am proud to have joined Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and a bipartisan coalition of dozens of Senators as a cosponsor to the Agricultural Job Opportunity Benefits and Security Act of 2003, legislation that is essential to establishing an effective, legal workforce for the agricultural sector in New York State and throughout the country.
I am deeply disappointed that we still have not solved our nation's immigration crisis, and it is my hope that we can find a solution that secures our borders, respects the rule of law, and honors both our history as a nation of immigrants and our basic values of respect and compassion. I will continue to work with my colleagues on a solution that honors all of these principles.