America's heritage of immigration has fueled our nation’s strength and diversity, yet our immigration system has become so politicized and dysfunctional that it causes untold personal tragedies, strains the fiscal capacity of public services in many states, and prevents many from pursuing the American Dream. Complex, comprehensive legislation based on back-room deals never works, and the Senate immigration proposal announced this week and echoed yesterday by President Obama—to the extent that it repeats the mistakes of the past—will further polarize Americans, fail to solve the real policy problems, and make matters worse.
Immigrants come to our country for freedom and economic opportunity. We are concerned that many aspects of the framework for comprehensive reform will undermine the very foundations that make for America's exceptional success. Policymakers should refrain from committing to such broad statements before the actual legislative language is available for public review. A proposal that would grant individuals who are in this country illegally a pathway to citizenship violates the rule of law and is unfair to those who have obeyed our immigration laws.
The Heritage Foundation believes that America's immigration system must be reformed through an open and public step-by-step, problem-solving approach that unites Americans and creates a system that welcomes immigrants, protects our sovereignty, encourages assimilation, and expands opportunities for everyone. Once such common-sense reforms are in place and working, lawmakers can determine how to respond in a fair, compassionate, and constitutional way to those who have come to our country illegally.