STATEMENT: CAP Expert Angela M. Kelley on White House Meetings on Immigration Reform
"This week President Barack Obama showed he has not forgotten his promise to the American people to enact a law that will protect our borders; include a tough, fair, and practical legalization program for workers and families; and strengthen our weak economy.
The president is now reviewing the outline of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that was presented to him by lead Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a White House meeting on Thursday. At a separate session President Obama heard from faith, labor, and other community leaders who underscored the problems with the current immigration system that will only worsen until comprehensive reforms are signed into law.
Though the president and Sens. Schumer and Graham all committed to building support for immigration legislation, some of the statements following the White House meetings unfortunately suggested that forward movement on immigration could get entangled in the ongoing debate over health care reform. Immigration reform, however, deserves separate consideration and should be divorced from the politics of other policy debates. The American public is frustrated by our broken immigration system and a lasting solution that serves America’s interests and upholds our values is within reach.
Comprehensive immigration reform will deliver big economic benefits. It will help improve the wages of all workers, level the playing field for honest employers, and add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years. At the same time it will require immigrants without status to register and pay taxes, providing a needed boost to our tax rolls.
We hope that the productive tone of the meetings inside the White House can carry over to the halls of Congress, and that talk about comprehensive immigration reform can be turned into action. It is time for leaders to step forward and begin moving this important legislation through Congress.
Comprehensive immigration reform presents an opportunity for all sides to come together to fix a broken system and respond to the concerns of the American public."