Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today expressed his “sincere gratitude” for President Obama’s national address on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The speech, delivered at American University, focused on what a comprehensive package would include and an analysis of public support for federal action on the issue.
“Like the president, I want to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to finalize legislation along the lines proposed in today’s speech,” Grijalva said. “We need a bill that ensures safe borders, holds undocumented immigrants accountable, and creates a rigorous process for acquiring earned legal status, as HR 4321 currently does.”
Grijalva and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus met with Obama on Tuesday, June 29, to discuss immigration policy. The president’s speech today, Grijalva said, “was consistent with the comments he made to us in that meeting.”
In his speech, Obama pointed specifically to agricultural workers and undocumented school students as examples of the need for a fair, more comprehensive approach to immigration policy. “I totally agree that the needs of these populations are strong reasons for action,” Grijalva said. “We can’t leave millions of people in permanent limbo. A rigorous process for bringing them into the legal system, the employment system and the tax system will benefit not only these people individually but the nation as a whole.”
As Congress and the White House craft a legislative proposal that includes such a process, in addition to other important border safety features, “it will become clear to the American people who’s trying to fix this problem and who’s obstructing progress for short-term political gain,” Grijalva said. “Demagogues in the Republican Party, and their Democratic allies, will say this is about amnesty and open borders. No matter how many times they repeat it, it won’t be true. No one who understands the issue believes we can just dig trenches, point guns at the border and live in fear the rest of our lives. We need legal, social, economic and political reforms to truly make immigration work in this country, and we need them now.”
The president made clear that immigration reform is “a matter of political courage” in his speech, which Grijalva highlighted as an important consideration.
“If the GOP doesn’t want to cooperate in the Senate on a reform bill, Democrats should move forward regardless,” he said. “The American people want action, and they want results. If all the opposition intends to do is chant ‘amnesty’ over and over in an attempt to scare us out of passing a bill, they may as well just get out of the way. We’re ready to move on immigration reform, and I call on everyone who cares about border safety, the rule of law, and the economy to join us.”