Responded to Senator Coons re Senate immigration bill

SECURE AMERICA’S FUTURE ECONOMY, advocating smaller, more focused, less costly government since 1996

July 17, 2014

Dear Senator Coons:

CC: Senator Carper and Representative Carney

This responds to your 7/14/14 letter re the Senate immigration bill that was passed in June 2013.

Our basic thoughts on this matter were communicated in a June 28 note, copy pasted in below for convenient reference. In case you or your staff did not read the underlying SAFE study, it is posted on the Political System page of our website: Immigration Reform (June 2013).

Please note that SAFE did not simply criticize the Senate bill; we offered an approach to immigration reform that might actually work. For example, it’s not enough to “shore up employment verification;” unless the E-Verify system is made mandatory and enforced, it will continue to be irrelevant. Similarly, adding more and more procedural rights for illegal immigrants is a bad idea as this will ensure that enforcement breaks down entirely.

Also see Revisiting the illegal immigration problem, updating our analysis for the current crisis along the southern border. This essay is posted on the Blog page of our website.

If you have questions or we can help further, please advise.

SAFE

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Letter from Senator Chris Coons
July 14, 2014

Thank you for contacting me about reforming our immigration system. I appreciate your taking the time to express your views on this important issue.

America is a nation of immigrants, who have directly contributed in making our nation strong, proud, and innovative. Immigrants helped to build our nation’s infrastructure, contributed to intellectual debate and scientific discoveries, and enriched our culture through works of literature, art, and music. It is important to recognize the critical contributions and advancements that immigrants have made to American society.

In my two years here in the Senate, I’ve supported measures that create a path to citizenship for those already in the United States, unite families, and expand the opportunity for the world’s best and brightest, who are often educated in the U.S., to remain here and pursue their ideas. Comprehensive immigration reform, however, is necessary to address not just these issues but also to create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million here out of legal status and to shore up employment verification and improve our ability to enforce our immigration laws.

In May, I was proud to participate in the Judiciary Committee’s three week long consideration of just such a bill. The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act would create an earned pathway to citizenship that is tough, yet compassionate. Undocumented immigrants will be given a chance to come out of the shadows and earn legalized status if they pay their taxes and a fine, learn English, and prove themselves capable of contributing to the economy. They will also have to get in the back of the line, behind other hopeful immigrants who have applied for green cards through existing legal channels. It would improve employment verification of eligibility to work, lessening the incentive for immigrants to come here illegally. The bill also borrows key features from a bill I recently introduced along with Senators Hatch, Rubio and Klobuchar, the Immigration Innovation (I2) Act of 2013. These provisions will allow for greater immigration by U.S.-educated high skilled workers and will improve the capacity of the U.S. education system to produce home grown scientists and engineers.

I also fought for the inclusion of several amendments that will make our immigration more humane and consistent with our national priorities, needs, and values. These amendments, which the Committee adopted, would bar perpetrators of systemic killings from finding refuge in the U.S., limit dangerous deportation practices at our borders, ensure accountability for detention immigration, allow asylum seekers to gain work authorization more speedily, allow immigrants in deportation proceedings to examine relevant portions of their immigration file, and more.

In June, the Senate passed this bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32. This bill represents a huge step forward towards modernizing our immigration system and I am proud to have supported it. Now that the bill has passed the Senate, I urge you to join with me and insist that the House take up and consider these long-overdue reforms to our nation's immigration system. On an issue of this great national importance, the Senate was able to put aside partisan divisions and come together to do what is right for the nation. It is time for the House to do the same.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I am honored to represent Delaware in the United States Senate and truly value hearing from Delawareans on issues of concern. My website,
www.coons.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects. I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.

Sincerely,

Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator
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