Since our state’s earliest days, immigration has kept Minnesota strong and competitive. From our Scandinavian and German roots to our Slovenians, Croatians, and Serbs on the Iron Range to our Liberian, Hmong, Somali, and Ethiopian communities, our state’s heritage is filled with immigrants working on the front lines, starting companies, and expanding economic opportunity for all of us.

Some of Minnesota’s most successful companies were founded and are led by immigrants and children of immigrants. Minnesota’s story is also America’s story. More than 30 percent of U.S. Nobel Laureates were born abroad and almost half of America’s Fortune 500 companies were started by people born in other countries or their children. In an increasingly global economy, immigrants continue to be a major economic driver in our economy.

Immigrant families don’t diminish America, they define America. They strengthen America. They are America. Legal immigration strengthens America’s workforce and ensures that we maintain our global competitive edge. We cannot afford to shut out the world’s talent or drive away those who call our country home - including immigrants who are now working as healthcare professionals and other front-line employees, often in rural and underserved urban areas. We don’t know who will create the next Post-it Note. But we do know one thing: when they do, we want them doing it here in America.

Our immigration system must also focus on our homeland security, and that includes investments in personnel and infrastructure to secure our borders.

As Minnesota’s U.S. senator, I will continue to focus on these priorities:

  • Securing our borders. As we face global and domestic threats, securing our borders, points of entry, and infrastructure must be a top priority. Recently, we have seen a surge at the border that must be addressed. That is why in February 2024 I supported bipartisan legislation to provide emergency powers to the president to shut the border down and to fix our broken asylum system. The bill would have invested significant resources for more border patrol agents, immigration judges, and technology so that law enforcement would have the tools they need to secure our border. It would have given the president the ability to temporarily stop processing asylum claims between ports of entry during periods of high crossings. And it would have reformed the asylum process. I also fought to secure significant funding to improve the detection and seizure of fentanyl at our border as part of the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.

  • Finding solutions to reform our immigration system. I have continued to work in a bipartisan fashion on immigration reform, which is crucial to moving our country and our economy forward. The bipartisan immigration bill I supported in February 2024 also included additional legal pathways to come into the United States. It would have included 250,000 new visas and employment permits for use over the next five years, which would have gone a long way toward filing worker shortages.

    While I supported the recent bipartisan compromise, I also continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform. When I arrived in the Senate, Senator Ted Kennedy asked Senator Whitehouse and me to be members of the immigration reform working group, and I worked with then-Senator Kennedy on the bipartisan immigration reform effort with the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, despite much work, the compromise bill did not pass the Senate. And, years later, as a member of the Judiciary Committee, I was part of the successful effort to pass the 2013 bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate that included a pathway to citizenship, prioritized enforcement of existing laws, addressed border security, and reformed our visa system. It also included the DREAM Act. The bill was estimated to decrease the deficit by $158 billion over 10 years. In the end, despite President Obama’s support, the Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill was not allowed a vote in the then-Republican House.

    In February 2021, I once again joined a group of senators in introducing the U.S. Citizenship Act, a comprehensive immigration bill that affirms our values and strengthens our economy by providing a pathway to citizenship, equipping law enforcement with smart and effective investments to effectively manage the border, addressing the root causes of migration, and supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

  • Keeping our covenant and supporting our Afghan allies. In 2021, thousands of Afghan citizens were forced to flee the violence of the Taliban, many of whom risked everything in support of our troops, and now live and work in the United States with temporary legal status. Right now, more than 75,000 Afghans who sought refuge in our country last summer are living in limbo without a streamlined pathway to permanent status. We must do what we can to help Afghans who sought refuge in our country to find stability, opportunity, and community. That is why I worked across the aisle to lead the Afghan Adjustment Act with Senators Graham, Coons, Moran, Blumenthal, Murkowski, Shaheen, Wicker, Durbin, Tillis, Mullin, and Menendez, Cassidy, and Reed, Risch, Crapo, Sinema, and King. Our bipartisan bill will provide newly arrived Afghans with a streamlined pathway to citizenship. The bill is modeled after other bipartisan bills that Congress has passed in the wake of other humanitarian crises, including the Vietnam War. The bill will allow Afghans who submit to additional vetting to apply for permanent status in the United States. It also creates a new pathway to come to the U.S. for those who worked directly with the U.S. military to include previously omitted groups, including the Female Tactical Teams of Afghanistan and the Afghan Air Force. The bill also establishes a task force to support our Afghan allies outside of the United States. Provisions based on my bill were included in bipartisan border legislation negotiated by Senators Lankford, Sinema, and Murphy and considered by the Senate. While that bill unfortunately did not pass, I am continuing to fight to get the Afghan Adjustment Act passed into law. Giving our new Afghan neighbors the certainty that they need to set down roots is not only the right and necessary thing to do, but it will also strengthen our communities. I will continue working to get this important bill done.

    This bill is supported by all of the leading veterans groups including The American Legion, VFW, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, business groups including the Chamber of Commerce, and retired military officials and ambassadors to Afghanistan. I was honored to receive the 2024 Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Legion for my support of the Afghan allies who stood with our troops.

  • Treating immigrants, including DREAMers, with fairness and compassion. I will continue to seek solutions—particularly for people who know no other home. I have worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce bipartisan legislation to protect DREAMers. In Minnesota, we are proud to be the home of more than 5,000 DREAMers, who have already passed background checks, paid fees, and met educational requirements so that they can stay here in the United States, pay taxes, serve in the military, and contribute to their communities.

    Since my first year in the Senate, I’ve worked to extend protections for Liberian immigrants in the United States, and in December 2019, legislation that I long supported to allow eligible Liberians on Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status to apply for permanent residency and provide them with a path to citizenship became law. I also believe that there should be humane conditions for immigrants who are held at border crossings and support ending the use of for-profit immigration detention facilities. I have supported legislation related to establishing requirements for how children in immigration custody should be treated, as well as providing lawyers for kids going through immigration proceedings. During the last administration, I worked with a bipartisan group of many Republicans and Democrats to pass a version of the DREAM Act to solve the issues of people living in our country on deferred status and provide additional funding for border security. Unfortunately for our immigrants and our entire country, the Trump Administration rejected it.

  • Welcoming refugees fleeing violence. Minnesota has a proud history of welcoming those fleeing wars and repression. We have the largest Somali and Ethiopian populations in the country and some of the largest Liberian and Hmong populations. I have visited refugee camps and heard from men, women, and children who have witnessed atrocities that, in the words of one refugee, would “make stones cry.” The United States must maintain our country’s leadership in providing refuge for people in need. Our strength and vitality come from the diversity of our people. That’s true in Minnesota and it’s true across this country.

    In the Senate, I cosponsored legislation to maintain our country’s leadership in providing refuge for people in crisis by reversing the Trump Administration’s dramatic reduction in the refugee admissions cap, while also maintaining thorough vetting and strong national security measures. I have also cosponsored legislation to allow qualified Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients to apply for legal permanent residency so they do not have to fear being sent back to a country they no longer call home. In 2018, Refugee International presented our office with the Congressional Leadership Award for our work to support refugee communities.

  • Supporting immigrant-owned businesses. About one in four of our country’s small businesses are started by immigrants. We must invest in the economic well-being of our immigrant communities, and I have long supported increasing funding for small lenders and community-based financial institutions that serve the needs of underserved small businesses—including immigrant-owned businesses. We must do more to overcome historic disenfranchisement by considering the needs of minority communities.

  • Protecting immigrant victims of domestic violence. When the Senate was considering comprehensive immigration reform, I took the lead in ensuring that the bill included provisions to help protect immigrant victims of domestic violence by allowing women in the U.S. with spouses on temporary visas to petition for independent immigration status—encouraging them to come forward and receive the assistance they need. No one should be forced to remain in an abusive relationship due to fear of losing their legal status.

    Although the 2013 Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill was not allowed a vote in the House, I have continued to work to protect immigrant victims of domestic violence, and I have introduced legislation to allow immigrants facing domestic abuse with spouses on a temporary visa to apply for independent immigration status. And as victims of domestic abuse have been at heightened risk during the coronavirus pandemic, I have worked to ensure that immigrant victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other serious crimes continue to have access to programs through which they can obtain legal status independent of their abusers.

  • Helping immigrant doctors to practice in areas of need. For years I have led bipartisan legislation to extend the Conrad 30 program, which allows international doctors trained in the United States to remain in the country if they practice in underserved areas. Over the last 15 years, the program has brought more than 15,000 doctors to underserved areas, including many rural areas that are short on doctors and rely on the program to fill the gaps. During the coronavirus pandemic, I successfully pressed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to waive certain restrictions that prevent doctors in the Conrad 30 program from providing medical care at locations where help is needed.

  • Supporting families and children through adoption. Like so many Minnesotans, I share the belief that every child should have a safe home and a loving family. As county attorney and now as the Senate co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I have worked to ensure safe and secure adoptions and assist families who are adopting children. Minnesota has a strong tradition of welcoming children from around the world and holds one of the highest per capita rates of international adoption. Intercountry adoptions should be as straightforward and safe as possible for American families. That’s why I supported the American Taxpayer Relief Act in 2013, which made the adoption tax credit permanent, and now cosponsor the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act to make this tax credit fully refundable. In addition, we must ensure that adoptive families—regardless of whether they are adopting here at home or internationally—have the full support and services they may need throughout the adoption process.

    In addition, I authored the bipartisan Accuracy for Adoptees Act, signed into law by President Obama in early 2014, which cuts red tape for adoptive families and ensures that corrections made to adoptees’ birth certificates by state courts would be recognized by the federal government. I also authored and passed the International Adoption Simplification Act to help siblings stay together during an international adoption and protect adoptees from unsafe immunizations in foreign countries.

  • Uniting children with families. Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Minnesota families who had nearly complete Haitian adoptions began contacting my office for help bringing their children home. Over the course of approximately two months following the earthquake, my office worked with 25 families to help connect Haitian children with their new families in Minnesota. I have also worked to help families impacted by the Russian government’s ban on American adoption of Russian children and called on the Russian government to allow for the completion of adoption cases that were initiated prior to the ban.