In a letter to Congress, a diverse alliance joins the Bush Institute in urging leaders to holistically reform the immigration system with the future prosperity of the nation in mind.
The undersigned bipartisan group of organizations stand united as strong advocates for immigration reform and addressing longstanding issues at the border. The below letter, released to Congressional leadership, underscores the need for a long-overdue modernization of our immigration system. We look forward to working with policymakers on this important and urgent issue.
Executive Director of the George W. Bush Institute
As you know, the current migrant increase at the U.S.-Mexico border is creating strains on our country’s immigration and humanitarian services. However, this situation is not new, nor is it political: we have seen similar numbers at the border before, and, without meaningful bipartisan action, we will see them again. The current situation underscores the urgent need to modernize America’s immigration system so it can increase the efficiency of legal immigration, more effectively ensure American security, welcome refugees, and maintain the fabric of the American Dream.
We applaud the bipartisan efforts in Congress to advance the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, create a permanent pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, and allow those on Temporary Protected Status to apply for green cards. Individual immigration reform bills, including these, are welcome drivers of change, representing strong steps toward reforming our broken system. But these efforts alone will ultimately not address today’s border situation or any other elements currently straining the system. Put simply, more work remains.
Border security remains a core priority, and at the same time, lawful migration should also continue. All migrants in our care should be treated with respect, including families and children. Through immigration reform that addresses the entirety of our nation’s needs, we can end the cycle of compromising situations at the southern border by ensuring that migrants have appropriate and accessible legal channels to migrate and receive adequate humanitarian support.
It is vital to address the root causes of this migration while improving border conditions and legal immigration pathways. Challenges in the Northern Triangle of Central America—Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—are displacing thousands, driving them to the U.S.-Mexico border and increasing tensions upon their arrival. Violence, corruption, economic turmoil, and recent natural disasters leave the region in urgent need of diplomacy and strategic economic support; on both of these fronts, a significant effort is needed by the United States.
As you move forward on solutions to this specific situation, and on efforts to fix our immigration system more broadly, it is important to remember that America benefits from immigration. Data show that increased immigration spurs U.S. economic growth and productivity. Additionally, each of our experiences over the past year have shown us that immigrants are on the front lines of the pandemic, serving all of us. At the end of 2020, nearly 23 million U.S. essential workers—or one in five—were immigrants. Our legal immigration system remains too inflexible, harming not only migrants in need, but our nation as well. Those that give back to their communities and contribute to our nation’s economy—including undocumented immigrants who already live in the U.S.—should have an opportunity to earn legal status or citizenship.
Today’s border situation should inspire us to prevent the next one by finally fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. This cannot wait. While the increase at the southern border will eventually subside, the broader problems with our nation’s immigration system will remain without additional reform. We call upon Congress and the Biden Administration to take further bipartisan action to meaningfully modernize the whole of America’s immigration system to ensure the future prosperity and security of our nation.
George W. Bush Institute
American Action Forum
American Business Immigration Coalition
Americans for Prosperity
Bethany Christian Services
Bipartisan Policy Center
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
HIAS – The Global Jewish Organization for Refugees
Human Rights First
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
The LIBRE Initiative
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
National Immigration Forum
New American Economy
North Texas Commission
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Texas Association of Business
Union for Reform Judaism