Last week thousands of people marched on the National Mall in support of comprehensive immigration reform. They were loud, they were clear and they demanded what each and every person deserves — dignity and respect.
Along with fellow members of Congress, I marched with these people. I heard their cry. The time has come to recognize those who have been working hard each day, contributing to this country’s economy, enriching our collective culture and helping to make this nation more diverse and our union more perfect. It is time to enact reform.
In the past few weeks, we have built powerful momentum, as House Democrats introduced an immigration bill that provides comprehensive reform and a path to citizenship. The legislation reflects all the agreements that were made between Republicans and Democrats to move immigration reform along. It’s about time.
As chairman of the Immigration Taskforce for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I have been at the forefront of the fight for family-based immigration. I am proud to see that the bill now has provisions that will strengthen our families. It greatly reduces backlogs, reunites Filipino World War II veterans with their children and helps lawful permanent residents bring their spouses and minor children over without delay.
The CAPAC has worked tirelessly on preserving the family unit, which is especially important to the Asian-American community. Keeping the family together is a valued tradition and the foundation of America’s immigration system — adding strength to the nation’s economy and communities.
This legislation, while not perfect, is an important step forward. It is practical and fair, it strengthens the economy and protects the rights of American workers. It creates a road map to citizenship for people who have been working and raising families here hoping for a fighting chance to be a part of this nation.
By simplifying and stabilizing an effective guest worker program, comprehensive reform will protect workers and businesses, strengthen security and border control, and give employers in all sectors the resources they need to hire a legal workforce.
We have never turned our backs on our brothers and sisters from many nations who desire to make a life for themselves and their families in this great land. It is important to remember that we are all immigrants here, whether we arrived at these shores last month or last century. The best way to honor our diversity and legacy of inclusion is to continue to welcome others. Immigrants weave other colorful threads into the fabric of American society, and we are all the better for it.
Immigration reform is happening now — and it’s going to take all of us to see it through. We all must work together in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation. Long-established notions of basic fairness and inclusion, which are the cornerstone of American values, demand that we change our system and take a humane and thoughtful approach to immigration reform.
The nation is ready. I’m ready to lead the charge. Let’s pass immigration reform now.
Rep. Michael M. Honda is a Democrat from California.