Thank you, Senator Menendez and good morning everyone. I am so honored to be partnering with Senator Menendez on this effort. I am very proud to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House of Representatives today. But before I begin I want to thank President Biden for his leadership. 

The President promised he would send a bill to Congress on day one and he did. I also want to give a special shout out to my closers. Those are my colleagues and partners in the House on this endeavor. When a team needs to win a game they send in their closer. Well, I have got seven of them. And we intend to work together to pass fair immigration legislation that strengthens America.

Today we are turning the page. We are writing the next chapter in our shared story. For many of us here today immigration reform is intensely personal. I am the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico. They came to this country and they worked hard and they sacrificed every day to provide for me and my brothers and sisters. My father Ignacio was an industrial mechanic and my mother, Maria, became an elementary school teacher. But, before that she raised a family and helped supplement my Dad’s income by selling Avon and even cleaning houses to make ends meet. My parents didn’t know that they would someday send not just one but two daughters to the United States Congress. But they put it all on the line just to build a better life for their family. And their story is like the story of so many others. 

That is why I have dedicated my career to building an immigration system that lets people live without fear, a system that gives anyone willing to work hard and contribute to our nation the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and for their family. Only in America can we see the son and the daughter of immigrant parents join together in the United States Capitol to announce a bold vision to bring our outdated, broken down immigration system in line with the values that make this country great. These are the very same values that brought our parents here. 

I am very proud to play a role in the effort to finally deliver on immigration reform. For these past two years I have served as the chair of the immigration task force for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and together we developed a framework that informs the plan that we are unveiling today. One that preserves our values, that strengthens our economy and provides fair protections for immigrants and communities. Most importantly, it does right by all of those who are proud to call this country their home. 

In the last Congress the House was able to advance solutions for Dreamers, farmworkers and more. In this Congress I believe that the House and the Senate can deliver legislation to the President’s desk. 

Today we have an administration and a President that understands that the success of our country is interwoven and linked to the success of our immigrant communities. And it is time that we finally put in place and immigration system that is based on that reality. Immigrants are good for our communities, for our economy and for our country. 

First and foremost this immigration reform legislation provides hardworking people and families who have lived here for years, in some cases for decades, an opportunity for them to earn their citizenship. When families are strong America is stronger. We must reunite and keep families together. The U.S. Citizenship Act will help grow our economy, fixing our broken immigration system will increase worker productivity, create more jobs, improve the wages of all workers and reduce our deficit. And if you don’t believe me, just ask any economist. 

The bill will modernize our border region and our ports of entry. The U.S. Citizenship Act will reset U.S. border policy to focus on smarter solutions and responsible, effective border management. Our border policy is broken, period. But this bill employs a multi-pronged approach that will manage the border, address the root causes of migration, crack down on bad actors and create safe and legal channels for those who are seeking protection. It is smart, it is focused, it is responsible, and it is long overdue. 

So why now? How will we get this done? Our country seems more divided than ever and sometimes it seems that cynicism can defeat us before we even try. I get it. I really do. Congress has tried and failed in the past and we aren’t naive about the challenges we face. But this time can and could be different. It should be different. I know that this is the year for Congress to act. The CHC, the closers, Senator Menendez, his supporters in the Senate and the President, we are all ready. We have been preparing for this moment. There is a broad coalition that wants to deliver on real reform. We are seeing a genuine interest across the board to finally getting something done. 

And that is because we understand that immigration reform isn’t just a collection of policies or debates in Washington. It could mean the full realization of the American Dream for millions of families in every community in this country. They are our teachers, our classmates, entrepreneurs and small business owners, parents, students, members of the military who take an oath to defend us. They are our neighbors and, yes, they are the essential workers that are caring for our community during this COVID crisis. 

They deserve the opportunity to succeed. They deserve permanent relief. And they deserve the opportunity to fully contribute to the place that they already love and call home. This time we are going to get it done. The next chapter of our shared story is really just beginning. And I want to thank again everybody who is here supporting the President’s vision for finally fixing what is long overdue. 

Thank you so much and with that I will send it back over the Senator Menendez.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sánchez of California during a news conference held to announce the U.S. U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Sanchez will carry the legislation in the House of Representatives. 

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