The Only Way Forward on Immigration is a Fair Debate in the House - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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The Only Way Forward on Immigration is a Fair Debate in the House

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2018 8:22 pm | Updated: 8:27 pm, Thu May 24, 2018.

For two decades, congressional inaction on immigration has become the status quo. During my time in Congress, I’ve found myself frequently disappointed as time and time again leaders of both parties – in both the House and Senate – lacked the courage to allow Congress to debate and address this complicated and pressing issue.

At stake are various legal immigration programs that have allowed hundreds of thousands to positively contribute to communities across the United States, much-needed improvements to border security to prevent drug cartels and human traffickers from continuing to profit and endanger lives of innocent civilians and law enforcement, and the fate of millions of young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who arrived in our country by no fault of their own – brought parents who either illegally crossed one of our borders or overstayed their visas.

The future of these young immigrants has been personal to me. For most of them, the United States is the only country they have ever called home. They attended and graduated from school with our own children and today are seeking to serve in our military, pursue a college degree, or contribute to our economy by working. Many have no memories of their countries of origin. They speak English, work hard, pay their taxes, and are positively contributing to our nation.

Congress first began working on legislation to provide certainty for the benefit of young immigrants who were brought to our country as children some 17 years ago. All attempts have come up short, but this time failure is not an option. If Congress does not act, hundreds of thousands of talented young people, who are by most measures Americans, are in very real danger of losing the only home they've ever known. Failure would also mean our border continues to be left unprotected as illegal drug traffickers continue to fuel the opioid crisis and human traffickers continue to take advantage and endanger the lives of countless others.

Last year, the President set a deadline for Congress to take action and address these important immigration priorities, but the target date came and went because politics-as-usual took hold of leaders in both parties. The frustrating nature of this process has been exhausting to those of us dedicated to getting something done on this issue. Last month, several of my colleagues and I decided enough was enough and utilized a little-known parliamentary measure called a discharge petition. If successful, this seldom-used legislative tool would force a debate on the House Floor on four possible immigration proposals representing a wide array of views on the issue – including increased and modernized border security and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

Thanks to the courage of many, my fight to force a debate on immigration is finally within striking distance of having the support we need to succeed – ensuring the House of Representatives finally does its part to move forward comprehensive immigration reform in Congress.

Moderate Republicans and Democrats have negotiated tirelessly to find a compromise that provides certainty for the DACA population, protects legal migration into our nation, and provides assurances that future illegal entry is discouraged and diminished. Members of both parties have worked hard for years to get to this point, and I will continue my relentless efforts to use all tools at my disposal to advocate for our South Florida community and the nation. A fair debate in the House of Representatives is the only way forward on immigration – and I’m not going to stop until all our voices are heard.

Carlos Curbelo, (R) represents FL 26th District.

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