Most Americans came to this country as immigrants and helped build our nation. Immigration has always provided substantial economic growth in Tennessee and across the country. We need to fix our broken immigration system and to remove partisan politics from this important issue. I support effective and data-driven immigration reform. We need to develop a proposal that takes into account the needs of businesses and our security and create a fair and speedy way to navigate the immigration system.
- Congress needs to do its job. The border policies and regulations that change with each administration means that Congress isn’t doing its job to make laws about immigration.
- Protecting our borders. The real challenge that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials face every day is how to effectively secure our borders and points of entry, and responsibly using taxpayer dollars without breaking from core American values. We need policies that embrace cutting-edge technology and improve coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement
- Use the immigration court system more effectively in order to move cases through quickly. This is one of the best hopes for dealing humanly with the situation at our southern border. People fleeing for their lives need a chance to explain their circumstances to an impartial judge with representation in order to see if they meet the criteria for entering the US legally.
- Common sense non-partisan immigration reform. Many businesses in East Tennessee rely on immigrants to keep our economy thriving. We need to develop a fair, safe pathway for immigration.
- Don’t separate children from their families. I believe that we should do everything we can to protect children from harm, but family separation is unhealthy for children mentally and physically. The federal government is not equipped to care for thousands of children. The court system needs to have speedy trials with intact families to ensure the safety of the children and prevent human trafficking. My family spent years working with the foster care system by hosting children in our homes. Those children were separated because their parents posed a threat to them. The parents bringing their children here with them are doing so in hopes of a better life for their children. While we must be vigilant against human-trafficking, that crime happens around us all the time and not just at the border. Speeding up the court process will help determine which cases put children at risk sooner instead of causing damage to thousands of children in the meantime.
- Make illegal immigration a civil violation. Most people just want a better life and come here because we offer so much hope. They don’t want to break the law – but the laws are confusing and the pathway to immigration can be impenetrable. Most immigrants from Latin American nations are fleeing violent situations. While we may not be able to let all of them into America, we should not criminalize them for attempting to save their lives and the lives of their children. The recent shift in criminalizing this behavior created a situation in which children were separated from their family because the adults had to be incarcerated for a “crime.” Making it a civil offense again would allow children to stay with their family members.
- Create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. DACA recipients were children when they were brought here and only qualified for the program if they didn’t have any criminal offenses. They don’t remember any other home and want to be full Americans. I have had the honor of teaching some of these children and they prove themselves to be true representations of the American Dream by their hard work ethic and love for the US.