Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship hearing on "The U.S. Immigration System: The Need for Bold Reforms":
"Although we have many legislative priorities this Congress, immigration reform is one of the most pressing and complex.The damage inflicted upon our immigration system over the last four years has generated a renewed sense of urgency around the need to enact protections for the undocumented and other critical measures.
"Not only must we get immigration reform done soon, we must get it right—our approach to immigration will shape our future and define who we are as a society.
"Will we thank the honest, hardworking people who have served our nation as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing them with the opportunity to obtain lawful status?
"Will we ease restrictions from the 1996 laws and allow families to be reunited and remain together lawfully?
"Will we choose an approach that welcomes talented STEM professionals, academics, and others from around the world to strengthen our economy and increase our global competitiveness?
"And will we finally allow young people who have grown up in this country without lawful status a full opportunity to pursue the American dream?
"Fortunately, we now have a President who believes the answer to these questions is 'Yes.' I applaud President Biden for his bold vision for immigration reform and for making it a top priority for his Administration.
"The benefits of immigration are clear. Immigrants are our friends and neighbors. They enrich our society, our culture, and our economy.
"Just like U.S. citizens, they pay taxes, work, and support local businesses. It is estimated that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States pay nearly $12 billion annually in state and local taxes. This number would only grow if they were provided with a chance to obtain legal status.
"The important role that immigrants play in keeping our country running has also been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated than 3 in 4 undocumented workers are engaged in work that is deemed 'essential' by the Department of Homeland Security.
"Further, as more and more Baby Boomers leave the workforce, immigration will play a key role in sustaining our current workforce levels. To maintain and strengthen our position as a leader among developed countries, immigration reform must be part of our overall strategy for economic growth.
"Last Congress, the House passed several significant pieces of immigration reform legislation. These include the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act—which collectively would provide legal status to an estimated 3.5 to 4 million undocumented immigrants.
"We also passed other bills that are smaller in size but significant in impact. For example, we passed the NO BAN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on religion in our immigration system and prevents executive overreach in suspending the admission of immigrants. We also passed the Access to Counsel Act, which would provide important protections at ports of entry to individuals seeking admission, by ensuring they have the ability to consult with counsel or other interested parties if they are subjected to prolonged inspection.
"It is incumbent upon us to pass these and other measures as soon as possible and to build upon these successes to improve our immigration system to the benefit of our country.
"I want to thank Chair Lofgren for holding this valuable hearing, and I thank all of today’s witnesses, especially my constituent, Professor Hunt, for participating in this important discussion. I yield back the balance of my time."