Fair and comprehensive immigration reform will be of the utmost benefit to Providence and the state of Rhode Island. Our communities, businesses and congregations all stand to gain from the enhanced cultural diversity and understanding that reform would nurture. Furthermore, all of us who live here can benefit from deepening our neighbors’ stake in this country, especially by extending an earned roadmap to citizenship tied to broad civic responsibilities.
The fact is, we need the U.S. House of Representatives to act right away and pass a common-sense comprehensive immigration reform bill. There is great harm to repair from our broken immigration system, not least the mass detentions and deportations that are inflicting enormous suffering on families. These practices do not reflect this nation’s true nature and character of openness, hospitality and consideration.
For me, America’s leadership on immigrant and refugee issues is a deeply personal matter. I had to flee my home country of Gambia after the oppressive regime there persecuted me for my investigative journalism. I’m grateful to this land for being a beacon of freedom and opportunity, and it’s important to me that it remains that way.
I speak knowing that my voice is one among many calling on our elected representatives to deliver fair reform. This stance unites me with the majority of Americans who are calling for reform that keeps families together and offers a roadmap to earned citizenship for 11 million aspiring new Americans.
What form would an effective, common-sense House bill take? First, it would set forth an earned roadmap to lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants and their families. It would also ensure the just and humane enforcement of U.S. immigration laws by reducing the use of immigration detention and widening community support programs.
We also need such a bill to protect families from separation and guarantee a sufficient supply of visas for families seeking to reunite. Moreover, an effective bill would make adequate resources and protections available to ensure the successful integration of refugees and other vulnerable migrants. As a final measure, we need a bill that better ensures the protection of U.S. citizen and migrant laborers.
I’m encouraged by the fact that the U.S. Senate recently passed its own comprehensive immigration reform bill, S744. By voting in favor of the bill, our Rhode Island senators, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, listened to Americans who want to confront the human suffering our broken system is inflicting on communities and congregations. Our senators’ leadership on this issue has been critically important.
If you are one of the many Rhode Islanders I know who are concerened about the bottom line, you’ll care that the fiscal health of our nation will improve if S744 becomes law. The Congressional Budget Office calculates that S744 would reduce federal budget deficits by over $200 billion over the course of a decade. This finding echoes those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which recently reported that immigrants create jobs and help drive economic growth.
This nation has shown that despite the challenges and inherent questions posed by history, it is able to continue to be the home for the homeless, refugees and those seeking what does not exist where they come from. At this moment, the biggest challenge is for House Democrats and Republicans to reach across the aisle and do what’s best for Rhode Island and our country. They must supply bipartisan leadership that reflects America’s can-do spirit. I wish them the best, and I ask that everyone in Providence and beyond call on them to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform.
Source: Providence Journal
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