Seeking to shape comprehensive immigration reform, U.S. Representatives Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Filemon Vela of Texas introduced a bill today that shifts the focus to the ports of entry and the environment.
“The House discussion on immigration reform hasn’t been an honest debate about good policy, it’s been a one-sided refusal to take the issue seriously,” Grijalva said in a news release.
“We’re tired of hearing this is a question of triple-layer border fences and militarizing our neighborhoods for our own good,” he said.
“I ask my colleagues whether they’d want their own children to pass teams of armed soldiers on their way to school every day for the next decade. They should consider what they’re doing to our border communities and start negotiating fairly instead of treating this as a military exercise,” he added.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2013, closely mirror a 2009 version introduced by Rep. Solomon Ortiz.
“This bill provides a reasonable pathway to citizenship, invests in our ports of entry to enhance security and trade, and implements commonsense border security measures without conditioning legal residency status on border security triggers,” Vela said in a news release.
Grijalva and Vela co-chair the Congressional Border Caucus.
Democrats Grijalva, Vela and Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, held three ad hoc hearings on immigration along the border to hear from experts and residents about the current situation in the region before Congress returned to D.C.
The three members said they wanted to expand the definition of border security to include the environment, trade and humanitarian issues.
The Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June that would double the size of the Border Patrol to nearly 40,000 agents and require 700 miles of fencing — which is a non-starting point for the Border Caucus members.
House leadership has said they will tackle the issue in a piecemeal approach, instead of considering the Senate’s bill.
“It’s time for people to see there’s a more serious option on the table and for Congress to keep moving forward on immigration reform,” Grijalva said. “This is not an issue that’s going away just because some people refuse to pay attention.”