Senate Passes Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    Obama applauds Congressman Garamendi Urges Swift Action in House John Liu, Saujani welcome passage of the Bill

    WASHINGTON, DC (TIP): The U.S. Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill Thursday, June 27 that would allow the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants to become U.S. citizens, overhaul the country’s immigration system and spend billions to secure the southwest border with Mexico. After years of failed attempts, 14 Republicans joined all Democrats in the Senate to pass the bill on a 68-32 vote. The bill, drafted by a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight, would represent the biggest change in immigration laws since 1986. In a statement Thursday, June 27 President Obama applauded the Senate for passing the bill. “The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise,” Obama said. “By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I – and many others – have repeatedly laid out.” Obama also urged the House to pass the bill. “Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen,” he said.

    Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) called on the House of Representatives leadership to immediately take whatever action is needed to allow the House to vote on comprehensive immigration reform this year. “The bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate today is far from perfect, but it is a tough compromise that brings us a lot closer to a rational immigration policy in America. I call on House leadership to take the necessary steps to allow an up-or-down vote on comprehensive immigration reform this year,” said Congressman Garamendi. Garamendi added, “We have a broken and unrealistic immigration system in America today, and that’s why a comprehensive approach is needed. We need to bring our country’s 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows and create a pathway to earned citizenship. We need to recognize the unique needs of farmers and agricultural workers. We need to keep families together. We need to encourage the immigrant entrepreneurs who create jobs for all Americans. We need to be a welcoming place for the world’s best and brightest minds. We need to aggressively enforce laws that protect wages and workplace safety. We need to deport the small group of undocumented immigrants who are violent criminals. We need to improve security along our borders, both land and sea. We need to recognize that an influx of young immigrants into the Social Security System will help extend its solvency. Above all else, we need to recognize that the status quo is unacceptable. I look forward to forging the bipartisan coalition necessary to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality in America.” Congressman Garamendi is a 4th generation Basque, Irish, and Italian American whose family came to California during the gold rush and established a successful ranching business. He believes America is at its strongest when it is a welcoming place for hardworking immigrants and when it lives up to its commitment to diversity and inclusion. Four in ten Fortune 500 companies were founded by first generation immigrants or their children. 44% of Silicon Valley startups founded in the last seven years had at least one key founder who was an immigrant. The Office of the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration estimated that an earlier version of the Senate bill would create 3.22 million new jobs by 2024 and boost U.S. GDP by an additional 1.63%. They also “anticipate that the net effect of this bill” on the Social Security System “on the long range … will be positive.” The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill would reduce the deficit by $157 over the first decade and by $700 over the next decade.

    John Liu, Comptroller of City of New York and a Mayoral hopeful has welcomed the passage of the S744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 in Senate characterizing it as an important step toward giving an estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York City the opportunity to participate fully in American society and to pursue citizenship if they so choose.

    In a statement released to the media June 27, Liu said, ” “This represents an important step toward giving an estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York City the opportunity to participate fully in American society and to pursue citizenship if they so choose. The Senate immigration reform legislation is not perfect, but it would be a vast improvement over the current state of immigration law, which keeps so many hard-working New Yorkers at a disadvantage in the labor market and in the educational system.

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    “It is now up to the House of Representatives to match the Senate’s display of bipartisan leadership and pass a bill that will provide a pathway for undocumented immigrants to attain legal residence and eventual citizenship.” Immigrant rights advocate and Democratic Candidate for NYC Public Advocate Reshma Saujani said, “As the daughter of immigrants fortunate enough to be granted refuge in the United States under dire circumstances, I am thrilled that the US Senate has taken this long overdue first step in providing real reform for millions of people hoping for their opportunity to take part in the American Dream.

    We are a nation of immigrants, yet politicians in City Hall, Albany and Washington have repeatedly shoved the interests of the immigrant community to the periphery. Even with this bill, Washington had to cater to some of the most extreme and virulent anti-immigrant forces, making it a legislative compromise. I am committed to results and have proven this by not waiting for politicians to debate a problem. Instead, I created a program to send undocumented students to college with the DREAM Fellowship program.

    With immigrants and their children comprising two out of three New Yorkers, our City needs to be a progressive leader on this vital national issue, and as Public Advocate I will never stop working to deliver real results for immigrants and their families. “The President and the Senate have shown the leadership our country needs; the House must now do their part to restore the American Dream by passing this groundbreaking legislation, welcoming millions of families and all they can offer to our nation.”

    However, Senate passage of a comprehensive immigration overhaul sparked no excitement in the GOPcontrolled House, where Republican leaders continue to oppose the Senate bill in favor of a piecemeal approach to addressing the nation’s immigration system. “The House is not going to take up and vote on whatever the Senate passes. We’re going to do our own bill through regular order, and it’ll be legislation that reflects the will of our majority and the will of the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “And for any legislation, including a (final bill), to pass the House, it’s going to have to be a bill that has the support of the majority of our members.”

    House Republicans will hold a special closed-door meeting July 10 to discuss the way forward on immigration, but leading lawmakers have made clear that there is broad opposition to the Senate’s comprehensive approach and little GOP interest in a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants until the U.S.-Mexican border is secured.

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