U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a cosponsor of the DREAM Act, and of seven bills that would modernize the nation's immigration system, released the following statement Wednesday on the bipartisan immigration reform proposal introduced by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and six of their colleagues:
"Immigrants have always played an essential role in this country's success, but the system that makes it possible for them to do so legally is clearly in need of reform. The immigration reform proposal laid out by my colleagues today is a strong starting point, and I thank them for their work."
"It is critical that the legislation ultimately voted on by the Senate is balanced, taking strong steps forward across an array of the shortcomings of our current immigration system. Chief among them is a practical approach to the nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants already making a contribution to our country. I support the inclusion in this proposal of a path to citizenship for upstanding immigrants, many of whom who had no choice in being brought to the United States and now want the chance to contribute to this country as members of our military or civilian workforce.
"This proposal also makes progress in curbing the loss of talent forced to pursue their ideas and innovations in other countries. Many of the best and brightest young minds in the world are educated at American colleges and universities, and we should be encouraging them to stay in the U.S. to pursue their innovations and create jobs here. When we send off these graduates to pursue their innovations in India or China, we are fueling the economies that are trying to beat us in the global marketplace -- and they're winning. This legislation calls for a new green card that would create clear path forward for foreign-born, American-educated holders of masters and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to remain in the United States to work and create jobs.
"America's immigration system should reflect America's values, and as Congress works on comprehensive reform, the basic rights of those in the system should be considered. While current law falls far short of this idea, this proposed legislation would make our immigration detention and court systems fairer and more humane. Where appropriate for immigrants with no history of violence, this bill would allow alternatives to detention to be used to guarantee enforcement of the court's orders. The bill would ensure that immigrants are advised of their legal rights and would provide that vulnerable immigrants such as children and those with mental disabilities have a meaningful opportunity to participate in asylum and other proceedings. More remains to be done, however, and I plan to work with the bill sponsors and other senators to offer amendments designed to further strengthen it and bring America's immigration system better in line with America's values."
"I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee and throughout the Senate on a responsible, bipartisan, and balanced path forward. The opportunity is unique and the moment is urgent. It is my hope that Congress will act this year and enact the long-overdue reforms to our nation's immigration system that it needs to properly welcome the next generation of new Americans."
Senator Coons, in addition to cosponsoring the DREAM Act, has introduced seven bills to modernize our nation's immigration system: the Startup Act 3.0 (February 2013), the Immigration Innovation Act (January 2013), the BRAINS Act (September 2012), the Startup Act 2.0 (May 2012), the SMART Jobs Act (May 2012), the Jobs Originated through Launching Travel Act (March 2012), and the AGREE Act (November 2011).
In March, Senator Coons chaired a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on building an immigration system worthy of American values. At that hearing, Senator Coons emphasized the need for reforms that will save resources, increase efficiency, and protect families involved in the immigration court system.