By Rep. Mike Levin
You wouldn’t know it from my last name, but I’m the grandson of Mexican immigrants on my mom’s side and a proud member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
A century ago, my mom’s parents came to the United States from Mexico as children. They didn’t have much money, a formal education or English fluency. What they did have was an incredible work ethic and the desire to make a better life in America for themselves and their children.
While neither graduated from high school, they started a successful business and sent all five of their daughters, including my mom, to college. And now their youngest grandson is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. I only wish they had been alive to see me sworn in.
I’ve seen firsthand the enduring promise of America, where young immigrants, despite limited means, can forge a path to prosperity, and I like to believe this promise is still alive today. However, in my conversations with constituents, local leaders, and colleagues in Congress, it’s clear that our immigration system is badly broken, threatening America’s welcoming spirit.
This issue transcends partisan lines, and it would be simplistic to attribute it to any single administration or policy. In fact, the last time comprehensive, bipartisan immigration legislation was signed into law was in 1986 under President Reagan.
Today, Congress is stuck. Our outdated immigration laws are no match for 21st century challenges. It’s time for Congress to work together to fix our broken system.
Thankfully, there’s a new, bipartisan solution gaining steam in Congress.
I am proud to support the Dignity for Immigrants while Guarding our Nation to Ignite and Deliver the American Dream (DIGNIDAD) Act of 2023 (H.R. 3599)—commonly referred to as the Dignity Act—the first bipartisan comprehensive immigration legislation introduced in the House in several years.
This legislation, introduced by Reps. María Elvira Salazar (R-Florida) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), is a serious effort to forge a bipartisan path forward on immigration.
It comprises four core principles: providing a legal solution for undocumented immigrants living in America; comprehensively addressing border security challenges; strengthening our workforce and economy; and ensuring the United States remains competitive in the future.
I’m glad to see this bipartisan bill gaining steam in Congress.
When you read the polling, it’s clear the American people want such solutions. In a recent poll, 82% of registered voters, including 80% of Republicans, said they agree on this: “As the U.S. works to restore order at the border, it is important that Republicans and Democrats work together to pass immigration reforms that address labor shortages and inflation, and protect people already here and contributing.”
If we’re going to respond to the will of the American people, it’s essential that elected officials stop blame-shifting and name-calling. We need to work together to find a bipartisan solution that honors our commitment to human dignity and keeps the American dream alive.
With my Republican colleagues electing a new Speaker of the House, now is the time to put partisanship aside and work together to pass this bill.
I continue to believe that when it comes to immigration reform or any other issue, we can still do big things when we work together. That’s the way to keep the American dream and welcoming spirit alive.
U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a third term in 2022 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.