However, our current immigration system needs to be improved. That is why at recent roundtables in Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo, I asked Ohioans of all backgrounds for their immigration reform priorities. We agreed that the solution to the immigration challenges we face wouldn’t be simple, but that now is the time to take a commonsense approach to immigration reform.
That’s why I’m proud that the Senate came together last week to address this problem. The bipartisan Senate plan, which we passed overwhelmingly by 68 votes to 32, would create a pathway that allows the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States to earn citizenship. It would also finish the job of securing our borders and create an employment verification system—to crack down on employers who are exploiting workers without documentation—that would prevent identity theft, and bring jobs out of the shadows.
This country has always been about hope and the opportunity for a better life. By allowing undocumented workers to come out of the shadows, we strengthen both their hope, and their opportunities. This is good for their interests and for our economy. The Center for American Progress found that this plan would increase American incomes by $470 billion, and the economy would add an average of 121,000 more jobs per year over a decade. That is because legal immigrants, determined to make the best of the opportunities that their new home provides, start small businesses or offer their talents to other companies – creating new jobs, adding to the workforce, and increasing our revenues.
Immigrants want to show their appreciation for this country by working hard and becoming a greater part of the American economy. In fact, a recent report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office indicates that immigration reform would cut the federal deficit by $175 billion over the first 10 years of its enactment and by $700 billion over the next 20 years. The bill will also increase GDP by 3.3 percent in 2023, and by between 5.1- 5.7 percent in 2033. This proves that as a nation of immigrants, legal immigration fuels both our economic as well as cultural progress.
Immigration reform stays true to the American spirit by halting future waves of illegal immigration and creating an approach to legal immigration that aligns with the economic needs of our country. Recent findings report that Americans—both Democrats and Republican—overwhelmingly support this common-sense plan.
Now that the Senate has done its job, it’s time for the House to do the same. We owe it to every culture that was represented at the Lorain International Festival and Bazaar—and every culture across Ohio—to ensure the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.
US Senator Sherrod Brown