Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) called Senate passage of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) an important step in the effort to return balance and fairness to the U.S. immigration system, and essential to our economic growth and security. He urges the House to work in a bipartisan manner to pass the bill and send comprehensive immigration reform to the President to sign into law. Senator Cardin looks forward to future debates on complementary legislation that will improve our immigration system further. His recent floor statement on immigration reform and S. 744 can be viewed here and downloaded here.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue. No matter what side of this debate you are on, most of us agree that America’s immigration system is badly broken. What we need is a balanced immigration system that is fair.
“I was pleased when we started this process that bipartisanship and a spirit of healthy compromise were guiding this legislation. But this is not the bill I would have drafted. I am disappointed at the disproportionate amount of money provided for border protection. The cost benefit of the billions of dollars added to the bill in recent days is marginal and is subject to waste, fraud, and abuse without proper oversight.
“Border protection alone will not fix all the challenges facing our immigration system. Immigrants should come legally through a door, not over or under a fence. Visa holders should leave when their visas expire. But balance also must cut off the demand for undocumented workers by strengthening E-Verify for employers, to make sure employers only hire those who are in this country legally. Balance must provide a tough but fair way forward that allows some 11 million individuals and their families to come out of the shadows, get legal status, and earn a pathway to citizenship. Balance must reduce the legal immigration backlog and promote family reunification. And balance must continue to welcome refugees and asylees to our shores who are fleeing natural disasters and persecution in their home countries.
“I wish that we would have had the opportunity to make this bill better. Hundreds of amendments were considered and adopted on this bill but many non-controversial amendments, including some of my own, were blocked by partisans seemingly to throw a wrench in what had been a collegial process. Working with civil rights groups as I did, we could have improved the prohibitions and data collection regarding ethnic and racial profiling, encouraged immigrants on the pathway to citizenship to perform community service, provided better social services for Holocaust survivors, and made it more difficult for human rights violators to enter the United States.
“Despite my disappointments, my support for this bill is solidly grounded in the fact that our current system is broken. Reforming our immigration system is in the best interests of our country and the needs of our economy for both skilled and seasonal workers. I urge my colleagues in the House to follow the example of the Senate, to listen to each other and revive a spirit of bipartisanship by working across party lines so we can pass comprehensive immigration reform.”