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Western Officials Demand a 21st Century Immigration System

Officials from the western United States share what bringing our legal immigration system into the 21st century would mean to them.

Ed. note: This is the final post in a series of five. Each post features statements from state and local officials across the country explaining why they support comprehensive immigration reform.Read the others on the White House Blog, or find links to each one below.

Throughout this week, we’ve heard from state and local officials from Southwest, Northeast, Midwest and Southern United States. Today, officials in the West wrap up our series by sharing what bringing our legal immigration system into the 21st century would mean to them.

“In the Anchorage Community and throughout the State of Alaska, there are many immigrants who own businesses and contribute to the local economy. They also have children within our school system who are legal citizens. We need resources from the Federal government to help local communities fix the broken immigration system. Congress and the Administration must act now and approve a comprehensive bill that will strengthen illegal border entry, establish an earned path to citizenship, and provide financial and technical assistance that will alleviate the local impact of new immigrants.”

Anchorage, Alaska Assembly member Elvi Gray-Jackson

"As the Mayor of the most diverse city in Oregon, I can attest to the value of welcoming others to our nation. One out of four of our residents were not born in the US. The children in our schools have more than 90 languages or dialects spoken in their homes. This leads to a better Beaverton. It's about time to get our immigration system fixed. We'll all be better for it. "

Beaverton, Oregon Mayor Denny Doyle

“We have a historic opportunity to get reform right, and it is vital that we do not fail. Legislation must include a clear pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million undocumented individuals currently living in the shadows. That path should be a fair process, not a punishment. Our immigration policies should reward those who work hard and play by the rules. Legal immigration should be efficient and acknowledge the merits of bright minds and the importance of reunifying families.”

Los Angeles, California Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

"Honolulu is the United States' crossroads of the Pacific. We need to fix our broken immigration system to make it more attractive for talented minds to work here and expand our potential as a center for commerce and innovation. Immigrants help to fuel our economy and it is time to fix the system to give responsible, hard-working families the opportunity to live the American Dream."

Honolulu, Hawaii Mayor Kirk Caldwell

“With nearly 30 percent of all Seattle children in immigrant families and more than 100,000 foreign-born residents, Seattle’s economic growth and vitality is strongly linked to immigration. Our broken immigration system harms Seattle’s families and our region’s economy. Congress needs to address immigration reform now. Seattle’s families and economy depend on it.”

Seattle, Washington Mayor Mike McGinn

“Providing immigrants an opportunity for success has been the foundation of our country's great strength and a source of inspiration for millions, including my own Basque grandparents. It is vital for our economic future that we reform our current system to allow hard-working people who believe in the American dream a fair and reasonable path to citizenship. America is an ideal as much as it is a place -- one that says everyone has a chance. We must stay true to that ideal if we are to remain a great country.”

Boise, Idaho Mayor David Bieter

“As the grandson of immigrants, I believe in fair rules that allow for people who are willing to commit themselves to the responsibilities of American citizenship to do so. Today, throughout the country, we look the other way at employers who don't play by the rules and cast blame on folks who are seeking a better life and opportunity in our nation. We can do better and President Obama's proposal does just that. We can secure our borders while removing the insecurity hard-working, undocumented workers live with every day. We can create a path to citizenship, ensure that everyone is paying their fair share for the privilege of working and living in America, and do it all with dignity. We're fortunate that America still holds promise for so many. This plan helps ensure that promises aren't broken for our citizens and our immigrants hoping to become citizens.”

Missoula, Montana Mayor John Engen

Give me your tired, give me your poor, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, no longer reflects our immigration policy. No longer do we lift our lamp beside the golden door of entry into our country. I once was an immigrant, waited my turn to become naturalized, proved that I could speak and write English, worked hard, paid taxes and social security, and was elected to city council more than a decade ago. The process must allow a path to citizenship and full integration into our society to all who honestly desire these and respect the laws and values of our country.

Laramie, Wyoming City Councilor Klaus Hanson

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