U.S. Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Filemon Vela, D-Texas, introduced an immigration reform bill Friday in hopes it will push action on the issue in the House of Representatives, said a press release from Grijalva's office.
"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," said Grijalva, co-chair with Vela of the Congressional Border Caucus. "There are millions of American families waiting every day for better laws that will keep them together, provide their children with a better future and help our economy."
Following a hearing in Nogales last week, in which Grijalva hosted members of the caucus, he and others expressed interest in creating a new immigration reform plan, with talks on a separate bill passed by the Senate in June having stalled.
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity Act of 2013 is similar to a 2009 bill introduced by former Texas Democratic U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Grijalva and Vela. Both plans ask for border security, background checks for applicants, and a 10-plus-year wait to become citizens, the press release said.
However, the 2013 plan would establish a Southern Border Security Task Force, ask for improvement of detention conditions and treatment of detainees, and visa reforms that would promote family unity, as well as create the Prevent Unauthorized Migration Visa, which would focus in providing safe, humanitarian migration during a three-year period, the bill document explains.
“Congress must act now to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Vela said. “Congressman Grijalva and I are proud to introduce the first comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. (House) in the 113th Congress. 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.”
In his statement, Grijalva said it is time for people to see that there is a more serious option in Congress, in order for the country to keep moving toward comprehensive immigration reform.
"My Republican colleagues driving this piecemeal, enforcement-only approach in the House seem to presume they can fix our immigration system if only they're given enough bullets," Grijalva said. "The country doesn’t feel that way, the Latino community doesn’t feel that way, and the Democratic Party doesn’t feel that way."
The Senate-passed bill, created by the bipartisan group 'Gang of Eight,' is still in the hands of the House. However, expectations to vote on such plan this year have completely dropped.