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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VARGAS. I want to thank the gentleman from California for yielding to allow me to speak on this very important issue to California.

But I especially want to thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for putting it in the context of our faith and our faith communities and our faith tradition. He, of course, quoted famously from Matthew 25. He could have quoted from Leviticus. In fact, I would like to do that now, from Leviticus 19:33-34:

When an alien resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native born. Love them as yourself for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

And I have to ask, are we keeping that commandment?

Are we keeping that rule?

Are we keeping that pronouncement?

Of course we're not. I wish that we were.

Immigration reform is vital to the economy of our country and, in particular, to California and my district. California is unique in that it is home to the technology industry, which relies heavily and highly on skilled talent and has an incredibly successful agriculture industry, which needs a temporary worker program that provides a predictable workforce.

The more California business leaders I speak with, the more apparent it is that immigration reform is the key to stimulating our economy and encouraging job growth.

Ruben Barrales, the immediate past president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and current head of the Republican Political Action Committee, GROW Elect said:

It is the responsibility of national leaders to modernize our immigration laws to help the United States remain competitive in the global economy.

Comprehensive immigration reform should help to attract and retain highly skilled immigrants, and should provide some pathway to legalization for qualified undocumented immigrants.

We must welcome immigrants, who continue to strengthen our economy and reinvigorate our society.

The California Chamber of Commerce is also acutely aware of the immense value that surrounds successful immigration reform. The California Chamber of Commerce, along with 29 other chambers, including the El Centro Chamber in my district, signed a letter stating that they stand united in adopting comprehensive reform.

The letter states:

Immigration reform is especially important to California as there are approximately 2.6 million undocumented immigrants in California, 23 percent of the Nation's total.

The uncertainty over their legal status is a drag on our economy and, if resolved, would stimulate consumer spending and investment.

Many of those who are in California have called our State home for more than 10 years, becoming Americans in all but legal status. Californians would benefit from more than 18,000 jobs created each year as a result of comprehensive immigration reform, according to a 2013 study by the Center for American Progress.

Moreover, California would see a 10-year cumulative increase in gross state product of $125.5 billion, an increase of earnings of all California residents of $68.2 billion, and, finally, an increase in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants by $5.22 billion.

There is no denying that immigration reform is an economically sound decision, and I urge my Republican colleagues to work with us to achieve real, valuable, economically beneficial immigration reform.

And I respectfully ask that, again, they look at their own faith because that's really the basis of this. We know it's the right thing to do.

Look to Genesis. Look to Leviticus. Look especially to Matthew 25, and you'll see in your hearts, this is the right thing to do.


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