Immigrants are the social and economic fabric of the Central Valley. Our community is home to tens of thousands of Dreamers, kids brought over the border by their parents who have lived here all their lives and just want their shot at the American Dream.
I hear their stories every day – the young woman who’s studying at Modesto Junior College to be a physical therapist, or the energetic young man who is working two part-time jobs while trying to start a small business.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows that comprehensive immigration reform would add over $1 trillion to our economy by bringing immigrants out of the shadows and into our formal economy. Protecting the Dreamers in our community isn’t just morally just, it’s economic common sense.
But our current representation is not doing its part to protect Dreamers and help secure a growing, 21st century economy.
Jeff Denham talks about immigration reform every election season, but in typical Washington fashion, he has little to show for it – press conferences and CNN appearances in D.C., and still no change for the young people who have grown up here and are terrified of being sent back to countries they don’t even remember.
In 2014, with a bipartisan immigration bill before Congress, Denham caved to party leadership and watched real immigration reform die on the floor. Again, just last week, despite years of promises that he could get something done, Denham made a big show of standing up to his big-money party bosses – only to abandon Dreamers by failing to get the necessary amount of signatures to actually force a vote through the Discharge Petition. It’s almost like Denham never planned to help Dreamers to begin with but only wanted to manipulate the PR to deceive his voters right around election season.
Today, it’s clear where Washington Republicans stand on Dreamers. The Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, and the presidency – the failure to protect Dreamers falls solely on their shoulders.
Look – we can all agree that we need to secure our borders, and Congress must do more to combat a growing and terrifying opioid epidemic.
The solution is right in front of us – the same bipartisan, commonsense bill that Denham worked to kill in 2014. That bill created a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants, it made it easier for high-skilled legal immigrants to contribute to our economy, and helped secure our border without wasting money on an unnecessary border wall.
That bill passed the Senate with a broad bipartisan super majority, and it would pass the House of Representatives today if we had political leaders with the courage to put it to a vote.
Protecting Dreamers and immigrants in our community is critical for the Central Valley. It’s clear we won’t get that with the current representative we have in Congress, and I expect voters will remember last week’s failure in November. We can do much better District 10 and I will work much harder.