Representatives Veronica Escobar (TX-16) and María Elvira Salazar (FL-27) on Tuesday, announced the Dignity Act of 2023, a historic, bipartisan immigration reform bill. This legislation has been over six months in the making; it addresses border security and infrastructure, creates legal status for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States with the possibility of earning citizenship, establishes new pathways for asylum seekers, and creates new legal pathways for economic migrants and unaccompanied minors.
“Decades of congressional inaction on immigration law has real consequences, and the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes requires a bipartisan solution,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I have seen the toll our broken immigration system has on federal personnel, local representatives, nonprofits, and the migrants themselves, and the need for a realistic, common-sense compromise could not be more urgent. These challenging times call for both compassion and action, and the Dignity Act of 2023 offers a bipartisan, meaningful approach that restores dignity to people who have tried to navigate a broken system for far too long. With the introduction of this legislation that Representative Salazar and I have been working on since December 2022, it is our hope that Congress seizes the opportunity to solve the immigration challenges of today and tomorrow.”
“Our broken immigration system is frustrating Americans, causing people to suffer, and fracturing our country — economically, morally, socially, and politically. A solution is long overdue,” said Rep. Salazar. “I am proud to introduce the new and improved, bipartisan Dignity Act. This bill gives dignity to the border agents who need support, the job creators who need employees, the American people who need secure borders, and those who currently live in the shadows.”
This comprehensive bill makes meaningful reforms to several aspects of our immigration system:
- It grants additional pathways to citizenship, including through the new dignity program, certified agricultural worker status, or service through the armed forces;
- It grants legal status to undocumented immigrants already living in the United States with the possibility of earning citizenship;
- It establishes new pathways for asylum seekers and creates new regional processing centers;
- It creates new legal pathways for economic migrants and unaccompanied minors;
“This legislation has critical components that would improve our immigration system, providing needed, transformative changes to millions of lives, including modernizing our legal immigration system and a process for undocumented immigrants to adjust their status,” said Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us. “While other provisions must be improved or refined before passage, this effort should serve as a launching point to help restore common sense into the conversation and help Congress reengage constructively on this issue.”
The last time Congress passed immigration reform was in 1996, and that was driven by Republicans and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. That bill eliminated several legal immigration pathways, essentially making fewer people eligible for legal status while making more people deportable. Currently, multiple federal agencies are working to manage the border using the tools they have. But Congress needs to update our immigration laws, pure and simple. And it’s not like Congress hasn’t had the opportunity; over the last 10 years, 7 major pushes for immigration reform have failed:
- In 2013, the Senate on a bipartisan basis passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, but House Republicans refused to take up the bill.
- In 2018, a bipartisan group of Senators advanced the Uniting and Securing America Act to protect Dreamers and provide pathway to citizenship, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
- Again in 2018, the Senate tried to advance the United and Securing America Act “Common Sense” Proposal Amendment, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
- Yet again in 2018, the Uniting and Securing America Act made it to the Senate floor but was blocked.
- In 2019, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act, but Senate Republicans blocked it.
- In 2021, the House again passed the American Dream and Promise Act, but Senate Republicans again blocked it.
- In 2021 and 2022, the President proposed record funding for more border agents, more asylum officers, more immigration judges, more border technology, and more detention capacity. Republicans in Congress failed to fund these both requests.
You can read a summary of the legislation here.
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