WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez said he is confident the new Biden Administration can deliver on its promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Success with such a bill would finally allow around 11 million undocumented residents to come out of the shadows and enter a pathway to citizenship that could take eight years to complete. The pathway would likely be limited to those without a criminal record.
Gonzalez was asked about the chances of passing such reform on a webinar he hosted on Wednesday, just hours after President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn into office.
“I think there is a great chance,” Gonzalez said, in response to question about the comprehensive immigration reform being passed by Congress.
“First of all there is a different aura in the room. But now, with both chambers being as close as they are… under Biden I think you are going to see a moderate Democrat presidency that is willing to work across party lines. Remember, President Biden is a creature of the Senate, that is where he spent most of his life. He knows how to negotiate across party lines. He knows how to get things done.”
Gonzalez predicted Biden would be a “great” president because he understands the process.
“He understands the chamber works. He knows how to make friends. He knows how to get things done. It is a matter of getting both sides together and figuring out what we need to do to continue progressing our democracy.”
Gonzalez is one of 112 Democratic lawmakers who sent a letter led by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to Biden to express their commitment to addressing immigration reform.
Gonzalez said the CHC and Democratic lawmakers stand ready to build a more humane and fair immigration system that permanently protects Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status-holders, provides a stable labor force to fuel economic growth, and reunites parents and their children separated at the southern border.
The letter was sent before Wednesday’s inauguration.
Here it is:
Dear President-elect Biden:
We applaud your commitment to act on immigration reform on the first day of your administration. As Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and allies, we are ready to work with you to build a fair and inclusive system that will restore our values and tradition as a nation of immigrants. Further, we share your goal of building an equitable recovery
and believe that immigration reform must be a key component of that plan.
The time to act on immigration reform is now. Our immigration system was broken before President Trump took office, but his administration advanced changes that eroded what was left of our system. These changes resulted in family separations, inhumane detention conditions that took the lives of migrant children, and discrimination against immigrants based on race, nationality, and income. In addition, the Trump Administration’s push to end protections for Dreamers and cut legal immigration were widely opposed by the American people. Our immigration laws must be updated and reformed to erase the stain left on our country by the Trump Administration.
We must advance immigration reform, including as part of our recovery efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated immigrants and mixed-status families particularly hard. Latinos are more likely to contract the virus and die from COVID-19, more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have access to health care than non-Hispanic whites. These health disparities are tied to immigration status.
Despite these challenges, immigrants continue working essential jobs to keep our country running. It is increasingly clear to all Americans that immigrants – from health care workers on the frontlines to those who ensure there is food on our table – are an essential part of our efforts to weather through and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last four years have shown that immigration reform is urgent and necessary. We recognize that the work ahead will be challenging, but we are committed to working with you to improve our immigration system. Democrats will soon have control of Congress and the Executive Branch and we must ensure that we do not miss this opportunity to get immigration reform signed into law.
Again, we commend your commitment to take immediate action on immigration reform and stand ready to work together to get the job done this Congress.
The letter was led by CHC Chairman Raul Ruiz, M.D., Linda T. Sánchez, and Rep. J. Luis Correa and signed by these 109 Members of Congress: Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Pete Aguilar, Nanette Barragán, Karen Bass, Ami Bera, M.D., Donald S. Beyer Jr., Earl Blumenauer, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Suzanne Bonamici, Carolyn Bordeaux, Brendan F. Boyle, Cori Bush, Salud Carbajal, Tony Cárdenas, André Carson, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, David Cicilline, Katherine Clark, Yvette D. Clarke, Emanuel Cleaver, II, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Cooper, J. Luis Correa, Jim Costa, Angie Craig, Jason Crow, Henry Cuellar, Danny Davis, Madeleine Dean, Peter A. DeFazio, Diana DeGette, Rosa L. DeLauro, Suzan DelBene, Antonio Delgado, Ted Deutch, Veronica Escobar, Adriano Espaillat, Bill Foster, Ruben Gallego, Jesús “Chuy” García, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jimmy Gomez, Vicente Gonzalez, Raúl Grijalva, Alcee L. Hastings, Jahana Hayes, Jim Himes, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Steven Horsford, Jared Huffman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sara Jacobs, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Derek Kilmer, Ann Kirkpatrick, Ann McLane Kuster, John B. Larson, Susie Lee, Teresa Leger Fernández, Mike Levin, Ted W. Lieu, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn B. Maloney, Doris Matsui, James P. McGovern, Gregory W. Meeks, Grace Meng, Gwen Moore, Jerrold Nadler, Grace F. Napolitano, Joe Neguse, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Frank Pallone, Jr., Jimmy Panetta, Scott H. Peters, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Quigley, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Gregorio “Kilili” Camacho Sablan, Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider, Kurt Schrader, Terri A. Sewell, Albio Sires, Adam Smith, Darren Soto, Greg Stanton, Thomas R. Suozzi, Mark Takano, Bennie G. Thompson, Mike Thompson, Dina Titus, Rashida Tlaib, Norma J. Torres, Ritchie Torres, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Juan Vargas, Marc A. Veasey, Filemon Vela, Nydia M. Velázquez, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Susan Wild, and Frederica S. Wilson.
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