For the past few months I have been working with my colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation, but unfortunately I was unable to support the legislation that emerged from our negotiating table. An agreement that undervalues family, creates a permanent working underclass and demands unreasonable fines is not in harmony with American values. Instead, we must support legislation that secures our borders while allowing undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows; and we must respect our country’s laws while respecting our nation’s tradition of immigration.

I have several specific oppositions to the legislation as it is written, and hope to fix the bill through a series of amendments. I will introduce an amendment to repair a gap in the backlog clearing plan that, un-fixed, would disadvantage hundreds of thousands of people waiting to immigrate to the US legally. Another amendment would alter the points system so family ties are weighted more heavily than they are under the current proposal, which heavily weighs job skills and education over family reunification. I will also offer an amendment to reduce the proposed fines and fees to a more reasonable payment that will still serve as a penalty for those who have broken our laws. The current proposed fines and fees, which may reach up to $19,000 for a family of four, could dissuade many undocumented immigrants from coming out of the shadows. I hope that through amendments and debate we in the United States Senate can come together to enact the tough, smart, and fair comprehensive immigration reform that our country needs.