Larsen: Executive Action Takes Positive Steps; Real Solution is Comprehensive Reform

Nov 21, 2014

WASHINGTON—President Obama’s executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system takes positive steps to keep families together, better focus law enforcement resources on upholding public safety and national security, and update opportunities for high-skill workers and entrepreneurs, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, said today in a statement. He also called again for comprehensive immigration reform legislation as the true solution to the complicated immigration issue in the U.S.

“President Obama’s decision to refocus our country’s immigration enforcement resources will help keep families together, better direct law enforcement resources to upholding public safety and national security, and update opportunities and processes for high-skill workers and entrepreneurs. But these actions cannot be the end of our country’s conversation about immigration reform. The real solution to the complex issue of immigration must be comprehensive and permanent, like the reform bill I have long supported.

“In Northwest Washington, I know there are many young undocumented immigrants who want to pursue their education so they can contribute to our country. I have also talked with members of cultural communities who have shared with me why they brought their families to the U.S. And business owners and workers have given me their views on visa reform. The President’s actions take steps to address these concerns for those in the Pacific Northwest and across the country to expand people’s opportunities and grow our economy.

“The centerpiece of the President’s plan defers deportations for parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for more than five years and expands the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Eligible parents will need to register, pass criminal and national security background checks, and start paying taxes. They can apply for a three-year period of deferred action and will be able to apply for work permits. Ending these families’ constant fears of separation will enable them to more easily participate in our communities and our society.

“I am pleased to see the end of the Secure Communities program, which used a dragnet approach to detain people for suspected immigration violations. I asked the administration last summer to reconsider these practices, as courts have ruled that detaining someone without probable cause violates the Constitution. Communities stand to benefit from the new proposal that will focus resources instead on people who have been convicted of serious crimes or may be a threat to national security. I am hopeful this change will improve immigrant communities’ trust in local police and make much better use of the limited resources we have for immigration enforcement.

“The President’s plan expands work opportunities for people who have graduated from U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, increases flexibility for high-skill workers and their spouses whose employers are sponsoring them for permanent residency, and increases the chances for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and contribute to our economy.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and no matter where in the world we got our start, we all are looking for similar things: a good education, a safe place for our families, opportunities to contribute to our communities, and meaningful work. The future of our economy depends on a pro-growth, efficient and fair immigration system.

“Even as millions of families now have protection against being separated from their loved ones, now is the time to allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform to create clear, legal pathways to legal residency for those who wish to come here and contribute to our nation,” Larsen said.