Letter from Dianne Feinstein: Immigration Reform

Dear Mr. Wentworth:

Thank you for your letter sharing your concerns about immigration reform in the United States. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important issue.

I believe comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to fix our broken immigration system. Comprehensive reform will allow the federal government to create effective immigration policies that better reflect the short-term and long-term security and economic needs of our nation.

Comprehensive immigration reform should secure our national borders, toughen penalties against those who engage in fraud or misuse the immigration system, combat unauthorized employment, and protect American jobs. Furthermore, reforms must provide our law enforcement officers with the resources needed to keep smugglers, narcotics, and weapons out of our country. At the same time, reforms should be sensible and fair, meet the needs of families and workers, and offer a pathway to earned citizenship that requires undocumented immigrants to pay taxes and fines, pass background checks, and learn English.

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee met several times to debate comprehensive immigration reform legislation, known as the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744), and vote on more than 200 amendments, all of which can be viewed athttp://www.judiciary.senate.gov. On May 21, I voted for final passage of the amended bill, which the committee passed by a vote of 13 to 5 for consideration by the full Senate.

Previously, the Judiciary Committee held hearings on April 19, 22, and 23, to hear from experts about how to improve the bill. Please know that you can read witness testimony and watch webcasts of the hearings at the committee’s website.

This immigration bill provides a practical way for undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship that would be contingent upon securing our borders. Specifically, the bill would allocate $4.5 billion for security and fencing measures deemed necessary to achieve and maintain persistent surveillance at the border and to reach the goal of apprehending or turning back over 90% of illegal border crossers in even the highest-risk sectors. Undocumented immigrants would not be able to adjust to legal permanent resident status until these measures are in place.

Any path to citizenship would also be contingent upon addressing the problem of foreign nationals who overstay their visas and deterring future illegal immigration through the implementation of an effective and mandatory employment verification system. The legislation would also ensure American workers are not displaced if employers hire foreign workers in situations where they cannot find Americans willing and able to do the job.

Again, it is helpful for me to know your views. While we may have different perspectives on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, rest assured that I appreciate hearing from you and will be mindful of your thoughts as the full Senate debates the bill. I invite you to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841 should you have any additional comments or questions.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

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