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America is a nation of immigrants. The very roots of our nation’s birth and development are built on the traditions and cultures of people from different backgrounds. These differences make our country unique. Because of these traditions we owe it to ourselves to make certain the immigration system includes a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans, promotes family reunification and meets the economic, business and employment needs of the U.S.
The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 after the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. One of our fundamental goals is to encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. Citizenship is the fundamental sign of allegiance to the U.S., our Constitution and our way of life. The League supports a system that allows immigrants currently in our country to obtain legal status by paying taxes, learning English and studying civics. These are fundamental steps to integration in American society, and it is in the interests of current citizens, immigrants and future generations that we build one nation.
In addition, comprehensive immigration reform must provide for timelier reunification for the immediate families of legal immigrants. Due to a backlog in the system, the process of reunification can take years. The League believes that immigration reform must allow families to reunite by clearing up the backlog of outstanding requests. Immigration reform cannot succeed if it ignores the powerful “pull” of family reunification.
Above all, we must have an immigration system where all persons receive fair treatment under the law. Immigrants have helped weave the fabric and identity of our nation. It’s time to help those now living in the shadows to become a part of this great nation. The acceptance and allegiance of more citizens would only work to strengthen our nation and our society.
Jessica Jones is the Grassroots Advocacy Manager at the League of Women Voters. She works with League leaders and members around the country on priority legislative issues at the national level.