SAN JUAN, February 12 - The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is clear on what it wants to hear in tonight’s State of the Union address from President Obama – a real push for comprehensive immigration reform.
U.S. Rubén Hinojosa, who chairs the CHC, pointed out that President Obama pledged in his campaign to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority. He also pointed out voters in the November presidential election made it clear they want Congress to take swift action on the issue.
"In every State of the Union address he has given, President Obama has mentioned the importance of immigration reform. The political world has finally caught up to the will of the president and of the American people. My hope and expectation is that President Obama will continue to urge the pathway to earned citizenship as the key to any reform,” said Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, Texas.
Hinojosa said the CHC stands “committed with our bipartisan partners to ensure common sense reform will make it to President Obama's desk.”
U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., is a second vice chair of the CHC.
“Our country was built on the American dream of opportunity and success, to live up to that promise we have to continue growing our economy and create a thriving middle class,” Sánchez, said. “To build a stronger country, we can no longer ignore some of the most challenging issues of our time. Now is the time to pass comprehensive immigration reform so that millions of people currently living in the shadows can become contributing members of our society.”
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Illinois, is chair of the CHC immigration task force. “I am taking Gabino Sanchez to the President's speech because he represents young people, the fathers and mothers and immediate families of U.S. citizens we deport every day,” Gutierrez said.
“Congress needs to know the cost of inaction. Gabino Sanchez, his wife and his two U.S. citizen children represent all those in America who fear deportation, fear losing their kids, and hope that Congress actually fixes our immigration system this year. I think he will be asking 'Is there something in the President's speech for me? For my family?'"
In addition to the CHC, La Unión del Pueblo Entero wants to hear President Obama talk about comprehensive immigration reform in the State of the Union address.
“In his address tonight, we expect that the President will reiterate the importance of immigrants and immigration reform to this nation and restate his commitment to modernizing our immigration system in order to keep families together,” said LUPE spokesman John-Michael Torres.
“We hope that the President in his address recognizes that America deserves a common sense immigration process that creates a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million new Americans who aspire to be citizens.”
Torres said the roadmap to citizenship “must not be so expensive and onerous that it leaves millions in limbo for lengthy periods of time, subject to an ever moving metric of ‘border security.’” He explained: “We need a fair system that creates a reasonable immigration process for New Americans. Legislation must also keep families together here in this country, protect all workers, and honor and preserve our longstanding constitutional promise of equal treatment to all.”
Torres said LUPE also expects the President to reiterate his intentions to create smart immigration enforcement.
“We hope that his point about smart border enforcement does not mean more border enforcement. As border enforcement has increased over the past decade, migrants seeking survival and a better life in the U.S. have rerouted to ever more dangerous points of the border. Migration through the desert, mountains or river means higher rates of deaths along the border. This year in Brooks County alone, the bodies of 140 migrants have been found dead,” Torres said.
“As Americans, we believe all men and women are created equal and that our laws should treat all people fairly and with respect, no matter the color of your skin or the country of your birth. It’s time we modernized our immigration laws to reflect those values. Any legislative proposal must respect and protect the rights of everyone here.”
In addition to immigration reform, the CHC wants to hear President Obama give more details on his plans to increase employment in the United States.
“I look forward to hearing President Obama address the nation, and I am hopeful that he will put the focus back on what should be our top priority, not only the Hispanic community, but for all Americans – creating jobs,” said U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico, a first vice chair of the CHC.
“In order to put people back to work, we must invest in education and job training, focus on expanding clean energy, and pass comprehensive immigration reform. It is vital that Congress also act quickly to prevent arbitrary cuts from the sequester that threaten to harm our economy.”
On the issue of jobs, Rep. Sánchez said Congress must also pass legislation that “expands on the resurgence of America’s manufacturing sector and invests in our country’s infrastructure so that our businesses can compete in the global economy.”
Sánchez said Congress must also do its part to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers and leaders by investing in STEM education and making college more affordable for more Americans. “By making smart investments in our people and working together, we can achieve the vision of an American that provides everyone with an equal opportunity to succeed and achieve the American Dream,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., said her hope tonight is that the President presents a robust economic plan that focuses on creating jobs and re-energizing the economy.
“While we have made great progress, so many of my constituents still remain unemployed and struggle to make ends meet,” Roybal-Allard said. “One way to re-energize the economy is to fix our broken immigration system. President Obama has made it clear that immigration is his top legislative priority, and I am hopeful that with his support we can finally pass a comprehensive immigration plan that keeps families together and gets more people contributing to our economy.”
Texas has five new Democratic congressmen, most of who are in the CHC. The five, Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville. The five penned an op-ed on the need for comprehensive immigration reform over the weekend. Click here to read it.