Congress has failed to fix our broken immigration system for decades. We need to make it easier for immigrant families to come to our country legally, improve our ports of entry to ease the flow of commerce, and modernize border security to combat human and drug trafficking more effectively.
From fair wages to security, the fate of America's citizens and aspiring citizens are inextricably bound. Like all our communities, immigrants and refugees are overwhelmingly good-natured and well-intentioned people. And like all communities, they share our security concerns. In fact, as people fleeing persecution and crime in their countries of origin, refugees and immigrants come to the United States seeking security. That is why securing our country is important for both citizens and aspiring citizens.
As the son of an immigrant parent, I will always fight for the right of good people to experience the American dream.
I will recognize the balance we need to strike between securing our borders and welcoming the huddled masses who yearn to breathe free.
And I will support sensible immigration reform that lifts rather than depresses wages, protects all communities and creates a viable pathway to citizenship, rather than forcing people to permanently live in the shadows of the law.
I agree with Congressman Scott Peters stance on smart border security.
“When I first came to Congress in 2013, I asked the president of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce in San Diego – who also happens to be the city’s Republican former Mayor and Police Chief – what’s the number one thing the federal government could do to promote job growth in our region. He said we needed to make a federal investment in critical infrastructure at our border with Mexico.
But this former Police Chief wasn’t asking for a wall.
He was asking for a gateway – a bridge, and improved customs facilities at the San Ysidro Port of Entry because long delays at the vehicle crossing were costing our region billions of dollars in economic activity and 60,000 jobs per year.
Working together, San Diego’s Congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats, secured the additional $442-million in federal investment to modernize the San Ysidro Port of Entry. It is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere, where commercial trade between San Diego and Tijuana is valued at $2.1 million per day.
Our nation’s investments in Ports of Entry support a thriving international economy. They also provide critical border security. Customs agents inspect, weigh and x-ray vehicles and bags. They make sure travelers have proper identification and valid visas – that they are properly vetted and screened before entering the United States.
215,000 tons of hard drugs were intercepted at ports of entry from 2012 to 2016. Agents at our ports everyday arrest criminals, seize narcotics and guns and deny admission to people they identify as a threat to national security.
That’s what real border security looks like, and I can tell you that San Diegans want that border security. But we do not want a wall.
In the last Congress, my colleagues Pete Aguilar of California, a Democrat, and Will Hurd of Texas, a Republican, proposed legislation with wide bipartisan support that included border security measures we could all agree on.
It would have directed Homeland Security to perform a mile-by-mile assessment of our entire southern border to determine the most practical and effective way to secure it, and to offer Congress a strategy for each section of the border.
It might be state-of-the-art technologies to detect tunnels because even in places where we have a fence, as we do in San Diego, it’s easy to dig tunnels underneath.
It might be sensors and radar to spot moving people and objects in any weather or time of day.
It might be cameras mounted on drones to surveil places where the terrain is tough to monitor.
Or, it might be, a physical barrier, such as a levee or fence if that makes sense in some places. But if Homeland Security wanted to recommend something as expensive as a wall in a particular place, they’d have to justify the extra expense against other less costly tools."
As congressman, I would urge the House to introduce a modified version of the Senate’s 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The bill is more commonly known as the “Gang of Eight Bill,” and passed in the Senate 68-32 but was never introduced in the House.
While a comprehensive solution would be ideal, I would push for legislation that meets our immediate immigration needs. For example, I’d support a bill called the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act. This bill, introduced by Republican Congressman Hurd and Democratic Congressman Aguilar, presents a bipartisan, workable DACA-border security solution. If elected, I’d urge my colleagues to break Washington gridlock and bring this bill to a vote.
Congress should prioritize a clean DREAM Act to protect America’s promising youth, the so-called 800,000 Dreamers. They’re our nation’s doctors, scientists, teachers, and serve in our military. These young people are our children's classmates, our next door neighbors, our colleagues and families. They’re Americans in every way, except on paper.
According to a study from the Center for American Progress, America would lose $433.4 billion over the next 10 years without Dreamers. The fate and future of these Dreamers and America’s economy are inextricably bound.
As congressman, I’ll do right by the American people, these aspiring Americans, and our economy. I’ll vote for a clean DREAM Act.
Congress should enhance and mandate E-Verify process for American employers.
E-Verify is a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. E-Verify employers verify the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees by electronically matching information provided by employees on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
E-Verify is a voluntary program. However, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to enroll in E-Verify as a condition of federal contracting. Employers may also be required to participate in E-Verify if their states have legislation mandating the use of E-Verify, such as a condition of business licensing. Finally, in some instances employers may be required to participate in E-Verify as a result of a legal ruling.
E-Verify, which is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, is currently the best means available to electronically confirm employment eligibility.