Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) is encouraged by the comprehensive immigration reform plans unveiled by President Obama and by the bipartisan group of Senators known as the "Gang of Eight." Rep. Engel has supported comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship for many years.
"Immigration reform is long overdue. We need a comprehensive immigration reform plan - one which creates a path to citizenship while strengthening and enforcing our borders. I am pleased to see President Obama taking the lead on bringing reform to the forefront. It is also encouraging to see the bipartisan agreement emerging in the Senate. I was supportive of the McCain/Kennedy reform bill, which passed the full Senate during the Bush Administration, but was effectively killed by the Republican-controlled House. I also supported the DREAM Act, which the Democratic-controlled House passed in 2010, and received a majority vote in the Senate, but was blocked by a Republican filibuster," said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Both Obama's and the Senate plan:
Create a fair path to citizenship
Bolster the protection of our borders
Reform our legal immigration system to help build the American economy and strengthen American families;
Create an effective employment verification system to prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers; and
Establish an improved process for admitting future workers.
"It is very important that we have a path to citizenship -- one that involves fines, back taxes and a process where those who are pursuing immigration legally are given priority. People should not be rewarded for breaking the law, but we cannot ignore the 11 million people -- and their families, which include American citizens --living in our country. Fixing this situation will strengthen our national security, aid our economy, and end the exploitation of millions of people. This will help strengthen our country," said Rep. Engel.
The House and Senate will now begin debating the plans and hopefully lead to comprehensive immigration reform being enacted. Obama's plan also addresses the growing need of same-sex couples who face discrimination in the immigration process. Rep. Engel supports the inclusion of protections for same-sex couples and their families.
"My family came to America looking for the American Dream, just as millions of people come to America today from all around the world. We are a stronger nation when we have a strong and vibrant influx of immigrants. I call on my Republican colleagues in the House to follow the lead of Senate Republicans and work with Democrats to forge and agreement which can pass both Houses and be satisfactory to the President," added Rep. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.