Lawmakers react to Obama immigration speech

Here’s how some of the Bay Area’s members of Congress responded to President Obama’s call for immigration reform today.

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security:

“Today I heard the President call for our country to take up the great work of comprehensive immigration reform. He voiced his full support for many of the principles I have worked to advance my entire life both as a Member of Congress and before that as a young immigration lawyer. Like the President, I believe we have an historic opportunity to fix the nation’s broken immigration system from top to bottom in a bipartisan fashion so it works for families and our economy.

“I’ve never forgotten my immigrant roots. My grandfather immigrated to America from Sweden, walking off the boat early in the 20th century with little more than a strong desire to make a better life in America. He didn’t finish school and always spoke with a heavy accent. But he was so proud of his U.S. citizenship that he hung his framed certificate on the wall. With a lifetime of hard work, his family built better lives for themselves and their children to pursue the American Dream, and today his granddaughter is a Member of Congress. Immigration forged our country into the great nation that we are today, and now more than ever it will be key to driving the United States forward in this new century.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“I am encouraged by the momentum to address immigration reform. As a nation of immigrants we need a comprehensive plan that promotes equity, long term growth and economic well-being. I will continue to fight for a plan that strengthens families, builds the American workforce and provides a roadmap for every American that aspires to citizenship.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“I applaud President Obama for his extraordinary leadership in this momentous effort to forge long overdue comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday, a Senate bipartisan working group released an unprecedented set of core legislative principles to resolve our broken immigration system. Today, President Obama advanced this promising and historic moment, outlining a vision that embraces our nation’s long-standing traditions for protecting all families, including same-sex partners, and accepting the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

“Under the President’s leadership, we are on the verge of reform that will bring millions of people out of the shadows and honor the dreams of brilliant and hard-working students, youth who are essentially Americans without social security numbers. Our country nears the possibility of greater technological innovation and economic prosperity, where persons with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will be allowed to join our workforce and advance our nation’s global economic competitiveness.

“There is no question that our broken immigration system has torn countless families apart and brought great fear and pain to our communities. There are currently over 4.55 million people, including 1.96 million Asian and Pacific Islanders, in the family immigration backlog waiting unconscionable periods of time to reunite with their loved ones. Asian American and Pacific Islanders are disproportionately impacted by bureaucratic immigration delays. Families in my district, particularly those from China, India, and the Philippines, suffer from the most extreme backlog, often waiting decades before receiving a green card.

“There are tens of thousands of LGBT families in immigration limbo throughout the country, prohibited from sponsoring their partners for residency. Judy Rickard, a constituent from my district in California, and her same-sex, bi-national partner are being torn apart by unjust immigration laws. Judy and others face an unequal reality compared with heterosexual couples.

“Next month, to address an outdated, inefficient, and discriminatory immigration system, I will reintroduce the Reuniting Families Act, a bill that reunites families by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses, children, and same-sex, bi-national partners as ‘immediate relatives,’ and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration. This legislation will reduce visa backlog and relieve families from prolonged and unnecessary separation and heartache.

“As Immigration Taskforce Chair of the Congressional Asian and Pacific Caucus (CAPAC) and LGBT Caucus vice-chair, I offer my utmost gratitude to President Obama for calling for the reunification of all families, regardless of sexual orientation, and the elimination of discrimination in immigration law against same-sex partners. We must never forget the teachings and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ We must never cease to protect the rights, visibility, and equal treatment of the most vulnerable among us. Our nation will be made stronger through reform that is comprehensive and inclusive, humane and just.”

More after the jump…

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, President Obama demanded firm and swift action on immigration reform – and Congress must answer this clarion call with a bill that is comprehensive, that reflects our history as a nation of immigrants, and that puts the American Dream in reach for anyone who comes to our shores.

“The President’s principles build on the leadership of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the commitment of House Democrats to reform that secures our borders, upholds our laws, protects our workers, unites families, and provides a pathway to citizenship. His proposal seeks to keep LGBT couples together and ensures we attract the best and the brightest in science, technology, engineering, and math to our country. His plan expands on the work of House Democrats to pass the DREAM Act, offering the promise of earned citizenship for students and service members. All of these proposals should be enacted in a comprehensive framework.

“An historic opportunity awaits this generation of American leaders. President Obama has set us on-course to action and bipartisan groups of both Senators and House Members are working together toward reform. Now, we simply need the will and the courage to act. Let’s work together to honor our values, respect our nation’s immigrants, and pass legislation that makes America more American.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“I am encouraged to see President Obama and a bipartisan group of Senators independently announce broad plans for moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform. It is a positive sign that there is bipartisan collaboration in both houses, and an early commitment from the President in his second term. For a comprehensive proposal to be successful, it must strengthen our borders, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers, provide a fair and honest path to citizenship for millions of immigrants, and streamline our legal immigration system to attract the best minds to America, rather than ceding their skills to other countries. It is time to fix our broken immigration system and I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to do so.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.