The United States is a proud country of immigrants, and Minnesota is a shining example of this history. As with past generations, new Americans want what all Americans want: safe neighborhoods, good schools, and the chance to raise a family and succeed. Immigrants today are often asked to work in the toughest jobs for the least amount of pay, and are cast into the shadows of our society. Our immigration system is broken, and I am committed to working in Congress to fix it.
Passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
I believe immigration rules need to be straightforward, fair, and predictable. They currently are not. I am committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform and have co-sponsored such legislation in my two terms in Congress. I believe that our reformed immigration system should include a clear path to citizenship for those who are already in the U.S. working and paying taxes. We need to put families first and have an expedited process for family reunification and believe that the federal government has an obligation to clear up the lengthy backlog of family visa requests. I also believe we need to pass The Dream Act, which is legislation designed to increase access to higher education for the children of immigrants and give them an opportunity to succeed and give back to their communities.
Liberian Temporary Protective Status:
I am a strong supporter for keeping Liberian Americans in our communities. In 1989, a civil war in Liberia displaced over half the country's population and many Liberians sought refuge in the United States. More than 30,000 Liberians reside in Minnesota and an estimated 1,000 currently are living under Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status. Since 1991, these refugees have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status. I worked in 2007 and 2009 to get Presidents Bush and Obama to extend the DED for Liberians in the United States, but now I'm working on a more permanent solution. I have introduced the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act, which would allow Liberians who were brought to the United States legally under temporary protection status classification to apply for permanent residency.
The DREAM Act:
On December 8th, 2010, the House of Representatives passed legislation aimed at fixing our broken immigration system. I proudly voted for the DREAM Act, which gives the children of immigrants a path to citizenship and chance to give back by going to college or serving in the Armed Forces.
The DREAM Act gives the innocent victims of our broken immigration system a fair shot at the American dream. Consider a woman whose parents brought her to Minnesota illegally when she was two years old. She did well in school and now, as a young adult, she wants to go to college, find a job, or enlist in the military. How can she apply for a job without documentation? What will she do if she is deported back to a country that has never been her home? The DREAM Act will help nearly 800,000 young people in situations just like this. This legislation allows the best and brightest of these young people to earn U.S. citizenship, but only after they complete a rigorous process. This opportunity applies only to young people who have lived here for at least five years prior to enactment of the law and who were brought to the U.S. as minors by their parents. Learn more about theDREAM Act here.
Immigration rules need to be straightforward, fair, and predictable -- exactly the opposite of our current system. Our immigration laws ignore the many contributions that immigrant families make to our communities. Worse yet, the laws are inconsistently applied and often tear families apart. Congress has an obligation to enact comprehensive immigration reform that keeps families together and embodies the spirit of generosity and inclusion.