"As a representative from Florida, a state with a high immigrant population (the recent census numbers estimate that one in four Floridians is foreign born), the issue of immigration and immigration reform is one of utmost importance to me, and of course to my constituents. I strongly believe that immediate action must be taken to straighten out the legal situation for the approximately 12 million people in our country that are extremely hard working and productive, yet undocumented. I am also concerned about the people from Haiti, who, following the terrible earthquake that the island is yet to recover from, risk their lives attempting to safely reach our shores.
My staff and I assist my constituents with immigration casework issues every day. For instance, I worked with a student from Miami (Walter Lara), who entered the country illegally with his parents at the age of three. At this time, he is in his twenties and in college, yet because of the fact that his parents illegally crossed the border with him when he was a child; he is threatened with deportation to Argentina. I firmly believe that these students, who have often times been in the United States since childhood, deserve a chance to legalize their immigration status, further their education and contribute to our country's future. For that reason, I am ardent supporter of the DREAM Act.
The United States has always been a proud nation of immigrants. And like the generations who came before us, the most recent newcomers want what all Americans desire: to raise a family, build a safe community, practice their faith in freedom, and be able to seek new and better opportunities for their children.
Certainly, our country also needs to provide adequate funding for border security and for the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the safety of all of our citizens (as prescribed in the Senate bill), as well as a comprehensive program to assist employers to verify the legal status of their employees. Overall, there needs to be a system of legal immigration in place that employers and immigrants can utilize, and that allows immigration authorities to better control our borders while at the same time not forcing families to be ripped apart. I find it very encouraging that the Senate passed a comprehensive, bipartisan bill, and I urge the House Republican leadership to bring up an inclusive immigration reform bill that our nation desperately needs."