Everyone agrees that our immigration system is broken, and that it has been broken for decades. It does not work for American families or businesses.

In his second inaugural address, President Obama recognized that when this country has faced great challenges, we have always come together to find solutions that hold true to our core values and fundamental ideals.

The need to reform our broken immigration system is just such a challenge. The need to bring millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and onto a path to citizenship and to protect families from being torn apart is one of the most pressing civil rights issues we face today.

We all know the basic building blocks of any comprehensive immigration reform bill. They have not changed in years. The five key elements of any reform bill are:

  • improved efforts to further secure our borders;
  • the establishment of a mandatory electronic employment eligibility verification system for all employers—a reform that must be handled carefully and can only be accomplished as part of a broad legalization effort;
  • the ability for undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows through an earned path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship;
  • reform of our employment-based immigration system by expanding high-skilled visas and creating lower-skilled temporary worker programs to meet economic needs; and
  • reform of our family-based immigration system to more quickly reunify close family members.

All five of these components are necessary not only because without them we do not have a bipartisan solution to this terrible problem. All five are necessary because we cannot truly fix our broken immigration system if we do not fix the whole system from top to bottom. We need to build an immigration system for the 21st century that works so well for businesses and families that people will be encouraged to go through our immigration system, rather than around it.

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