In an important speech yesterday, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) unveiled the major components of comprehensive immigration reform legislation and called for legislative action this year. As the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Senator Schumer will have a leading role in the upcoming immigration debate. Senator Schumer’s speech, combined with today’s bipartisan White House immigration meeting, accelerates the momentum towards a debate on reform this fall.
“Senator Schumer understands the policy and political imperatives of this issue in a way few leaders do,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “His speech yesterday made it clear that comprehensive reform must legalize workers in the U.S. illegally, level the economic playing field, expand the tax base, and restore the rule of law. Just as importantly, he gets that the time for action is now.”
In his speech yesterday at the Migration Policy Institute’s Immigration Law and Policy Conference, Senator Schumer noted his commitment to moving forward on reform legislation this year, saying: “When the President asks me whether we can pass comprehensive immigration reform this Congress, I will smile and say, ‘Mr. President, yes we can.’ All of the fundamental building blocks are in place to pass comprehensive immigration reform this session and, even possibly, later this year…If I did not believe we could accomplish immigration reform this year, I would never have chosen to accept the Immigration Subcommittee post. Committees of inaction and legislative backwaters are not places in which I thrive.”
Senator Schumer laid out seven principles for comprehensive reform that, taken together, promise to transform a dysfunctional system characterized by illegality, chaos, and unfairness into a regulatory regime that is legal, orderly, and humane.
Senator Schumer’s comments are a further indication that key leaders in Congress recognize the new politics of immigration reform. The 2008 election, the public demand for solutions to tough problems, and the commitment to reform by President Obama have created expanded political space for good policy. Today’s White House meeting will be another giant step forward towards Congressional engagement on this issue this year.
A new fact sheet on public opinion about immigration reform shows that comprehensive reform is not just a “Latino issue,” but is favored by Independent voters as well: http://www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/IndependentVoters