It is a well-established fact that throughout American history millions of people have sought to come to the United States to escape untenable situations and to strive for a better existence. We are a nation of immigrants founded upon the very principles of hard work and unity. These values have built our nation into a great democracy and a land of opportunity.
Our current immigration system is archaic and has been governed by the same basic provisions since 1952, with some policy adjustments along the way. The challenges that we face can only be solved through reasonable and comprehensive reform. Congress can only fix our broken immigration system by providing a path to legalization and aggressively enforcing existing laws that would help, not hurt, the situation.
Any proposal to make an illegal entry into the United States a federal felony, while seemingly reasonable, is not a viable solution. Indeed, those who enter this country illegally are, by definition, breaking the law. However putting an estimated 11 million people into the federal justice system would clog the courts and is not realistic.
Legal immigration is one of the sources of America's greatness, as our country has prided itself on the strength of its diversity. Therefore, those who enter our borders legally should be afforded equal opportunity to excel and prosper. New Americans are assets to our economy and are often successful entrepreneurs who pay taxes and hire employees.
This country has long been a shining example of inclusion. Even in our darkest days of intolerance, we have managed to rise above our differences and cultivate a strong nation of citizens from around the world. That is why I firmly believe that our immigration policies should be fair and applied with equal force to all immigrants whether they are from Central America, Haiti, Cuba, China, Russia, or any other foreign country.
As an attorney, a judge, and a Member of Congress, I have fought consistently to ensure the fair treatment for Haitian refugees. I have sponsored legislation that would stop the interdiction and return of Haitian refugees and have supported the commitment of U.S. dollars to be used as socio-economic and peacekeeping assistance to Haiti. As a humanitarian and a supporter of democracy, I will continue to work for the fair and equal treatment of Haitian refugees, particularly considering the dire conditions and fragile stability facing our Haiti.
However, when considering any immigration policy we must not ignore our number one priority: the security of America's borders. I strongly believe that securing our borders by enforcing efficient immigration policy will alleviate the burden placed on many of our public services and institutions. Current federal immigration policies have certainly placed a tremendous burden on education, health care, and the correctional system in South Florida. Thus, we must have a more credible immigration policy that deters unlawful immigration while supporting our national, state, and local interest in legal immigration.
I look forward to working with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress to overhaul our current immigration system and enact reforms that better protect and enforce our borders, while respecting the hard work and contributions of immigrants to our country and reflecting the realities of our workforce and the needs of our communities. It is essential that the questions concerning illegal immigration be solved, and it remains imperative that the solutions to these questions never interfere with the safety of America.