By: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Duluth News Tribune
America has a remarkable heritage as a nation of immigrants. I am here because of Slovenian and Swiss immigrants. My grandpa on my dad’s side worked 1,500 feet underground in the iron ore mines of Ely. His family came to northern Minnesota in search of work, and the iron ore mines and forests of northern Minnesota seemed the closest thing to home in Slovenia. My grandpa never graduated from high school, but he saved money in a coffee can so my dad could go to college.
My dad earned a journalism degree from the University of Minnesota and was a newspaper reporter and longtime columnist for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. My mom was a teacher, and she taught second grade until she was 70 years old. Her parents came from Switzerland to Milwaukee where my great-grandma ran a cheese shop. The Depression was hard on their family and, out of work for several years, my grandpa sold miniature Swiss chalets he made out of tiny little pieces of wood.
So I stand on the shoulders of immigrants, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of iron ore miners and cheese-makers and craftsmen, the daughter of a teacher and newspaperman, and the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the state of Minnesota.
My story and the story of so many others could not have been possible in a country that didn’t believe in hard work, fair play and the promise of opportunity. It could not have been possible in a country that didn’t open its arms to the risk-takers, pilgrims and pioneers of the world.
That’s why the Senate has been working on legislation to fix our broken immigration system to ensure it works for future generations in a way that is fair, efficient and legal. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I worked hard to craft a strong, bipartisan bill that bolsters our economy, secures our borders and promotes opportunity for businesses and families.
Specifically, the bill creates an accountable path to citizenship to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. The bill requires them to go to the back of the line, register for legal status, pass a background check, learn English, pay taxes and work toward citizenship over time.
The bill also works to strengthen border security by deploying better technology and focusing enforcement resources where we need them most. And it improves security in our immigration system overall by keeping track of anyone who overstays a visa, as many of the 9/11 hijackers did.
Finally, the bill reforms our legal immigration system to meet the economic needs of the country and recognize the value of strong families.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill reduces the deficit by $197 billion over the next 10 years and by $700 billion over the following decade, making it clear that immigration reform isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s vital to our economy.
As the Senate continues to consider our legislation, I will keep fighting to make sure we pass this strong, commonsense bill that moves America forward.
Passing the bill is important to our economy. It’s important to our global competitiveness. It’s important to our national security. And it’s important to millions of families throughout the United States.
In other words, it’s too important for us not to act. Now is the time to fix our immigration system so America can continue to be a beacon of hope and justice in the world.