Conyers Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Including Pathway to Citizenship
Washington, DC, February 5, 2013
This morning, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing entitled, “America’s Immigration System: Opportunities for Legal Immigration and Enforcement of Laws Against Illegal Immigration.” During opening remarks Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following statement:
“I would like to commend Chairman Goodlatte for choosing to make immigration reform the topic of the first hearing of the Judiciary Committee in the 113th Congress. In doing so, this committee is joining a national debate that is moving quickly and, I believe, in the right direction.
“First things first: I support comprehensive immigration reform that will allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants living among us to come out of the shadows, to submit to background checks, to pay taxes, and to earn permanent legal status.
“At the end of that process—and I know it will be a substantial process— there must be the opportunity to pursue citizenship for those who choose to do so. On this point, I stand with the president, who spoke passionately last week about his commitment to enacting comprehensive immigration reform. On this point, I also stand with the bipartisan group of eight Senators (McCain, Graham, Rubio, Flake, Menendez, Schumer, Durbin, and Bennet) who last week released a blueprint for immigration reform and are now working to forge an agreement that can pass the Senate. And on this point, I stand with all of those in the House who have consistently voiced their support for comprehensive immigration reform. I am hopeful that when the time finally comes for a vote on this issue, a strong bipartisan majority of members will stand united in their support for these principles.
“And now is the time. Over the years, support for immigration reform has continued to grow. The American people support reform that allows undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and have the opportunity to work toward citizenship. And that makes sense. Isn’t that what America—a land of immigrants—is all about? People come here to make a better life for themselves. In many cases, they come here with the hope of becoming American. That is – to become one of us.
“I say that now is the time because we cannot wait much longer. I hope this hearing is the beginning of an open dialogue focused on how we can create an immigration system that serves American businesses, families, and security.
“But the immigration debate has never really been about what needs to be done. We all know what needs to be done. We know that we need to ensure that we keep our borders secure. We know we need a mandatory electronic employment verification system to crack down on unauthorized hiring. We know we must fix our broken employment and family visa systems going forward. We need a system that works so well that people have no reason to try to get around it – better to just go through it.
“Finally, we know we must provide a way for the undocumented to come forward and get right with the law. So it has never been about what comprehensive immigration reform will entail. Rather, it has been about how we will pass a bill through Congress. And, I believe that the chances of passing a bill have never been better.
“In closing, Mr. Chairman, allow me to say that there is no more critical economic and social justice issue facing our nation today than fixing our broken immigration system. The Democratic members of this committee stand ready, willing, and able to work with you and your members to make the concept of comprehensive immigration reform a reality.
“I thank all of our witnesses for joining us today and I look forward to your testimony.”
Statement as prepared for delivery.