We need immigration reform that will ensure strong border security, reasonable financial penalties, and a path to legal residency for the nearly 12 million undocumented workers already here in the U.S., strengthening our country for years to come.
There is a broad-based consensus that the U.S. immigration system is broken. The number of foreign-born people residing in the United States is at the highest level in U.S. history and has reached a proportion of the U.S. population—12.6 percent—not seen since the early 20th Century. Of the 38 million foreign-born residents in the United States, approximately one-third are naturalized citizens, one-third are legal permanent residents, and one-third are believed to be unauthorized or illegal residents. Some observers and policy experts maintain that the presence of an estimated 11 million unauthorized residents is evidence of flaws in the legal immigration system as well as failures of immigration control policies and practices.
I have many concerns regarding the protection and security of our borders, as well as transitioning immigrants to permanent resident status. This is why I co-sponsored the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act that would increase the number border patrol officers, improve security on the southern border, and create a reasonable pathway to permanent residency status. Specifically, this bill would authorize funding for more U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers, Air and Marine unmanned aircraft systems crew, marine agents, and personnel. It would also allow immigrants with Registered Provisional Status (RPI) to obtain permanent residency status if he or she meets a specified series of criteria.
Resolving problems associated with illegal immigration also requires enforcing sanctions against employers who hire illegal immigrants. Congress continues to take action to improve both of these policy areas. Recent legislation supports local governments in their efforts to efficiently combat illegal immigration, preventing human smuggling across U.S. borders, requiring employers to conduct employment eligibility verification, and strengthening requirements for affidavits of support for alien immigration.
I recognize the need to address security problems that are created by illegal immigration. However, with more than 12 million people here illegally, enforcement alone will not solve the problem. Blanket “amnesty” is not a solution to the problem, but the combination of strong border security, reasonable financial penalties, and a path to legal residency will allow us to regain our territorial sovereignty.
I will work in a bipartisan manner for the passage of reform that balances the needs of our economy with national security and upholds the principles reflected in our nation’s immigration history.
More on Immigration
Rep. Cummings reacts to the 2014 State of the Union Address with host Andrea Mitchell.