On matters of policy, we can do better. This blog posting is third in a series of policy comparisons between Mr. Moran and me. For Part 1 of this series, click here and Part 2, click here.
Like his legislative colleagues who share in the all-time low approval rating, Mr. Moran has T.R.I.E.D. on - Traffic, Regulation, Immigration, Economy and Debt – critical issues but unfortunately failed. Passionate partisanship has painted many politicians into a political corner. As a country we are better when we embrace ideas and innovation rather than ideology and dogma. I am running as an Independent to take responsibility for our biggest challenges. Desiginging comprehensive immigration policy is one important challenge I will tackle during my first term.
Comprehensive immigration reform is one of those issues that demands leadership. It takes someone who has the ability to take a long view of what is both a family and an economic issue.
My parents were immigrants, I have friends who are immigrants and my non-profit experience has given me perspective on the challenges associated with immigration. As the most recent past President of the Washington, DC chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), I personally understand the challenges we face with immigration reform.
Jim Moran voted for the last major piece of federal immigration legislation called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA). An October 4th Washington Post article reported the adverse affects of this bill which among other things “limits judicial discretion” for deportation proceedings. By removing a judge’s ability to adjudicate crimes worthy of deportation, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) set a record of 396,906 “removals” in 2011. Our immigration policy must be about more than deporting people, some of whom are legal residents. We can do better.
The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would repeal the portion of (IIRIRA) that penalizes colleges and universities for providing in-state tuition to students whose parents brought them to America as children. It would also reduce the fear of juvenile deportation. The DREAM Act takes a conservative approach to immigrant education. It separates the power of the federal government to regulate naturalization – Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution – from the power of the state government to determine in-state tuition. In-state tuition is the state’s opportunity to attract the best talent and thereby recruit the best companies to employ that talent. I support the DREAM Act as one portion of comprehensive immigration reform.
The Startup Act 2.0 is bipartisan legislation that creates opportunities for 50,000 STEM Visas (green cards) and 75,000 Visas for immigrants who are entrepreneurs. The Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Visas would ensure that America retains some of the foreign talent we educate. The 75,000 entrepreneur Visas would motivate foreign entrepreneurs to start businesses here and hire American workers. The Startup Act 2.0 has been stalled “in committee” since May. It’s a Senate bill that I would look to replicate in the U.S. House. I support the Startup Act 2.0 as another portion of comprehensive immigration reform.
Two pieces of legislation are not enough to correct the problems associated with immigration reform. To truly “go big” I am willing to address a much more fundamental problem: access to resources. Currently the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the organization tasked with legal immigration into the United States. It doesn’t cost us taxpayers anything unless we use it. As with all user-fee agencies, USCIS funds are sent to the federal government’s general fund at the end of the year. I support changing this policy. We could allow USCIS to expand by retaining these immigrant fees. This will reduce lines for Visas that are in some instances, 10 to 20 years long. Even your grocer knows that if lines are long then “all cashier’s are needed up front.” Similarly we need a Congressman who will address the backed up technology and human capital issues that serve to discourage legal immigration. We can do better.
As part of a comprehensive legislative package, I will encourage my colleagues to include provisions for permanent legal status for the approximately 11 million undocumented residents. We must work to incentivize rather than stigmatize our neighbors who are afraid to come forward. A path to permanent legal status is important not just for those individuals but for our economy.
Our neighbors need an advocate for comprehensive immigration who has a personal understanding of this issue. I have that understanding and during my first term we will do better.
For more information about our campaign, please visit VoteJasonHowell.com