We need to open a path for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, gain legal status, and participate openly in the American Dream. For too long, Congress has neglected immigration reform, creating years-long waiting periods to gain legal citizenship, and harsh punishments for those who do not follow the impossible rules. They have left state and local governments to fight amongst themselves over how to solve a problem they can't possibly fix, and their refusal to deal with this issue has caused huge problems.
We're all aware of Arizona's racist policy whereby police are able to detain someone for simply "looking like an immigrant" even when there is no evidence that a crime has been committed. This is a blatant violation of our civil rights and that is why I authored a bill this year to prevent Arizona-style law enforcement from being practiced here in Massachusetts. I also supported offering in-state tuition rates for undocumented students at Massachusetts schools, and I support drivers licenses for undocumented residents -- these two measures will go a long way toward bringing undocumented residents out of the shadows and will allow them to more easily become contributing members of our society. Furthermore, I authored the TRUST Act, which guarantees that undocumented victims and witnesses can report crimes without fearing deportation -- we must restore trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement if we have any hope of moving forward with reform.
It's time Congress got its act together on this vital issue because these changes at the state level are not nearly enough. When one considers the fact that this issue is one of just a handful on which many Republicans agree with the need for change, their inaction is inexcusable. In Congress, I will push for comprehensive immigration reform that gives undocumented workers a path to citizenship and welcomes skilled workers from across the world to our nation.
As undocumented residents gain legal status, we should ask them to pay the taxes they owe and go to the back of the line behind those who have entered our country legally. But, as we've welcomed immigrant communities before, we should welcome and honor their dream to come to America too. Congress must pass the DREAM Act right now so that all children who were raised in this country, whether they were born here or brought by their parents at an early age, have the opportunity to succeed. Comprehensive immigration reform must also include a provision for Americans in same-sex marriages to sponsor their foreign-born partner for citizenship. And looking to our future and at our competitiveness in the global economy, we must simplify our system for those trying to legally immigrate to the United States and prioritize those who have skills needed in the American workforce. Highly educated immigrants, particularly those trained and experienced in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, would bring invaluable skills to our nation, fostering our American tradition of lively invention and innovation.
A path to citizenship would greatly benefit our entire economy and, with it, every American. A recent Center for American Progress report found that creating a legalization process for undocumented immigrants would increase gross national product by between $832 billion and $1.4 trillion over ten years. Even the libertarian Cato Institute agrees, finding that real immigration reform would add $80 billion to our economy every year. As we fight our way out of the Great Recession, we should welcome the huge economic benefits of comprehensive, progressive immigration reform. By welcoming the best and brightest to our shores, America can remain the economic and technological leader of the world long into the future.