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Public Statements

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, last week, after the Nation celebrated the second inauguration of President Obama, I expressed a hope that this Congress would be characterized by its commitment to finding common ground.

I am pleased that a bipartisan group of eight Senators--four Democrats and four Republicans--will announce an agreement on a framework for comprehensive immigration reform as early as this afternoon.

No one denies America's immigration system is broken. As I have said, this is one of the most important legislative missions Congress will undertake this year. I applaud these eight Senators for setting aside partisanship to tackle a crucial issue facing our Nation.

This is a positive first step, but the true test of our congressional leadership will be to pass a comprehensive bill.

As a Senator from Nevada who has for years witnessed firsthand the difficulties our broken immigration system presents for immigrants and their families, it is very important to me personally that we finally resolve this issue. So I pledge that I will do everything in my power as the majority leader to get a bill across the finish line.

Nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me.

President Obama has already taken commendable executive action to suspend deportation of outstanding young men and women who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. I thank President Obama for his leadership and for making comprehensive immigration reform a top priority of his administration.

I am also pleased President Obama will present to the Nation his own ideas to fix the current broken immigration system during a visit to Las Vegas tomorrow. With bipartisan support building in both Houses of Congress, and a President who is eager to solve this issue, there is no reason we should not pass comprehensive immigration reform immediately. It will be good for our economy and good for immigrant families. But successful immigration reform cannot be piecemeal, and it must include a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in our country.

Legislators must craft a comprehensive solution that, among other things, continues to secure our borders; punishes unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and undercut American wages; improves our dysfunctional legal immigration system; and requires the 11 million people who are undocumented to register with the government, pay fines and taxes, and go to the back of the line--not to the front of the line. They have to learn English, work, pay taxes, and stay out of trouble. Only then they, as I have indicated, get to go to the back of the line. But they do obtain legal status, which is so important.

The framework proposed by the bipartisan group of eight Senators meets these criteria. I hope we will soon have a bill to send through the committee process and bring to the floor for a vote.

I have long said when my Republican colleagues were truly ready to craft a commonsense legislative solution that was tough, fair, and practical, we would stand ready to cooperate. We have been doing this alone. It is good to have some friends and partners in this effort.

For years Democrats have been eager to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but the Republicans have been unwilling to work to find common ground. I am glad things have changed. I am so happy to see that my Republican colleagues--at least some of them--finally seem ready to find a bipartisan way to correct the flaws in this Nation's immigration system instead of just complaining that the system is broken.


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