“I applaud [the bipartisan group of eight] Senators for setting partisanship aside to tackle a crucial issue facing our nation. This is a positive first step.”
“I pledge that I will do everything in my power as Majority Leader to get a bill across the finish line.”
“With bipartisan support building in both houses of Congress and a President who is eager to solve this problem, there is no reason we should not pass comprehensive immigration reform immediately.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today about immigration reform. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery.
Last week, after the nation celebrated the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, I expressed a hope that this Congress would be characterized by a commitment to finding common ground. So I am pleased that a bipartisan group of eight Senators – four Democrats and four Republicans – will announce an agreement on a framework for comprehensive immigration reform this afternoon.
No one denies America’s immigration system is broken. As I have said, this is one of the most important legislative missions Congress will undertake this year. I applaud these Senators for setting partisanship aside to tackle a crucial issue facing our nation. But the true test of our Congressional leadership will be to pass a comprehensive bill.
As a Senator from Nevada, who has for years witnessed firsthand the difficulties our broken immigration system presents for immigrants and their families, it is very important to me, personally, that we finally resolve this issue. So I pledge that I will do everything in my power as Majority Leader to get a bill across the finish line. Nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me.
President Obama has already taken commendable executive action to suspend deportation of upstanding young men and women who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. I thank President Obama for his leadership, and for making comprehensive immigration reform a top priority of his administration. And I am pleased President Obama will present to the nation his own ideas to fix the current, broken immigration system during a visit to Las Vegas tomorrow.
With bipartisan support building in both houses of Congress and a President who is eager to solve this problem, there is no reason we should not pass comprehensive immigration reform immediately. It will be good for our economy and good for immigrant families. But successful immigration reform cannot be piecemeal. And it must include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in our country.
Legislators must craft a comprehensive solution that continues to secure the borders, punishes unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and undercut American wages, improves our dysfunctional legal immigration system and requires the 11 million people who are undocumented to register with the government, pay fines and taxes, learn English and get in the back of the line to obtain legal status. The framework proposed by the bipartisan group of eight Senators meets those criteria. And I hope we will soon have a bill to send through the committee process and bring to the Senate floor for a vote.
I have long said that when my Republican colleagues were truly ready to craft a common-sense, legislative solution that was tough, fair and practical, Democrats would stand ready to cooperate. For years, Democrats have been eager to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But Republicans have been unwilling to work to find common ground. So I am glad to see that some of my Republican colleagues finally seem ready to find a bipartisan way to correct the flaws in this nation’s immigration system – instead of just complaining that the system is broken.