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U.S. must stop vilifying immigrants, says Biden homeland security nominee Alejandro N. Mayorkas

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The United States “must stop vilifying” immigrants, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said on Thursday, adding the country must also “bring to an immediate end the inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrants.”

“There is no more powerful and heartbreaking example of that inhumanity than the separation of children from their parents,” Mayorkas said in remarks to the American Business Immigration Coalition.

“Immigrants have been essential to our communities’ ability to survive the current pandemic — serving our nation in vast numbers as health care workers, researchers, and scientists; as delivery drivers, care givers, and clerks; and in so many other critical roles — and they will be vital to our economic recovery from this crisis.”

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Mayorkas said America can modernize its immigration system to allow economic growth while protecting the rights, wages, and working conditions of all workers.

“A fair and orderly system that keeps our families together and our communities safe,” he said.

Read the full remarks by Nominee for Secretary of Department of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas to the American Business Immigration Coalition

Josh, thank you very much for the warm welcome. 

I had the pleasure of working with Josh when I served as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Josh — quite frankly — proved the power of the public-private partnership, as he convened a wide array of business and other community leaders throughout Chicago to address with our agency the city’s and our country’s immigration needs and challenges. Thank you very much, Josh.

Good afternoon. I am honored to join you today.

For more than 200 years, our country’s bipartisan tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has kept us dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has strengthened our families — including my own — our communities, our economy, and our nation.

When I was very young, the United States provided my family a place of refuge. In 1960, my father moved us from Cuba to Miami because he did not want to raise us in a communist country. He believed in democracy, and he understood the perils and the challenges of living otherwise.

I am proud to have had the privilege of serving in the federal government for almost twenty years, to have had the opportunity to give back to the country that has given my family and me so very much.

Now, as Josh mentioned, I have been nominated to be the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to help oversee the protection of all Americans, fulfilling our promise as a nation of immigrants and administering our immigration system with integrity, in a way that is humane and secure.

It is an honor to be nominated and entrusted by the president-elect to serve. I will work day and night to protect our security here at home and to fulfill the promise of our proudest traditions.

Today, our immigration system is badly broken — and we all know it. The cost of that broken system is incalculably high. It represents a profound toll not only on families seeking to contribute to our nation and forge their own American dream, but on our economic prosperity and our moral authority as well. 

As President-elect Joe Biden takes office, he has committed to fixing this broken immigration system. He knows that will require working with members on both sides of the aisle to find solutions that reflect the values we as Americans all share.

He knows that our solutions must reflect the broad sweep and impact of immigration across issues and constituencies, because key sectors of our economy — from agriculture to technology, rely on immigration. And he knows that immigrants are a key driver of economic growth.

We must stop vilifying these communities. We must bring to an immediate end the inhumane and unjust treatment of immigrants. There is no more powerful and heartbreaking example of that inhumanity than the separation of children from their parents.

Immigrants have been essential to our communities’ ability to survive the current pandemic — serving our nation in vast numbers as health care workers, researchers, and scientists; as delivery drivers, care givers, and clerks; and in so many other critical roles — and they will be vital to our economic recovery from this crisis.

We can all agree that our country needs a modern immigration system to allow our economy to grow, while protecting the rights, wages, and working conditions of all workers.

A fair and orderly system that keeps our families together and our communities safe.

Because creating a new immigration system will help create jobs, raise wages, and grow our economy. Not just for immigrant communities, but for all our families across this great country.

Our history and the facts demonstrate that immigrants contribute to and are a fundamental part of our economy and our society.

But of course, this issue is about more than figures on a balance sheet. On the base of the Statue of Liberty, it is written: that “from her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome.”

Immigration is a foundational part of who we are, and who we have always been as Americans, from our very earliest days. It is an issue especially ripe for bipartisan solutions, because it speaks to our common history as a people, and because it serves the interests of each of us to further that distinctly American tradition.

We are a nation built on the energy, aspirations, and ideas of immigrants and the generations that followed them. A Biden administration will center an immigration agenda that is humane, fair, strengthens our nation and its economy, and keeps our families and communities safe.

And we will roll up our sleeves, starting on day one, to fix what is broken, to keep families together, to build an immigration system that works for all of us.

Thanks very much for allowing me to be a part of this today.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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