U.S. Senate Passes Immigration Bill

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Naturalization ceremonyOur country’s current immigration system is deeply broken. The U.S. Senate took a step today to make it better, passing a historic immigration reform bill by a vote of 68-32. (You can read the New York Times’ summary of the bill.)

The legislation is far from perfect, but it would accomplish some significant reforms if passed by the House of Representatives.

First and foremost, it establishes a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in this country. This is long overdue, especially for the DREAMers – those who came here as children. Bringing these individuals and families out of legal limbo will only strengthen our communities.

The bill provides expanded work visas and greater procedural justice in immigration and detention processes. It also attempts to walk a difficult policy balance by shifting more visas over time from a family-based approach to a skills-based one. I believe reasonable minds can disagree on the merits of this change.

Of greater concern, the bill pours billions of dollars into over-the-top border security, funding that could be spent more effectively elsewhere.

I will be watching closely how this issue moves through the House because make no mistake: Fixing our nation’s immigration system matters to Seattle.

About one out of six members of our community were born outside the United States. Immigrants arrive here from all corners of the world and make up a valuable part of Seattle’s social, economic and cultural life.

When we intentionally welcome immigrants and integrate them into the Seattle community, everyone benefits.

That’s why, in 2011, the City Council created the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. It will be a bright day for the future of our country when Congress recognizes this too.