New York has a rich history as a destination for people from around the world to live and work. Because of this, our country’s broken immigration system greatly impacts all of us. We need to fix the system that forces people into the shadows, and we must provide those who are undocumented with the pathway to citizenship that the United States has promised since its founding, and that I, as a descendant of immigrants on both sides of my family, have benefited from.
Whether farmers, seamstresses, restauranteurs, or business people in myriad fields, immigrants have always actively contributed to American society and helped grow its economy. Immigrants who’ve fallen through the cracks often don’t enjoy many of the benefits afforded documented immigrants and citizens, such as drawing Social Security or Medicare benefits that they’ve paid into over the years, health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and disability benefits. This is patently unfair given that those same immigrants contribute tens of billions of dollars in taxes annually.
For decades, politicians on both sides of the aisle have failed time and time again to present a comprehensive plan to enable this economic driver, focusing instead on entrenched click-bait distractions like name-calling, media posturing, fake national emergencies, and government shutdowns. This deep dysfunction in Congress has made it impossible for any common-sense consensus that would improve people’s lives by creating a more just and humane society. Congress must provide efficient pathways to citizenship, ensure that rights are protected in the process, and manage taxpayer money used for immigration services in a fiscally responsible manner.