Mike Levin on Immigration Policy

Question #10 to Mike Levin, asked by David Penaloza (’24) on behalf of AP US History, period 2.

“Should the US increase the number of permanent resident visas it issues to immigrants each year?  And why or why not?”

So again, I think of this in very personal terms. I mentioned my dad’s dad was a World War Two veteran, my mom’s parents— you would not know this unless you read my Wikipedia— they were Mexican immigrants. My mom’s parents! It’s obvious right… with the last name Levin? What happened was my Mexican-American mom married my Jewish-American dad and that’s how you wind up with me. But my mom’s parents, when they came to this country, were very young. My grandmother was four, my grandpa was twelve, they didn’t speak English, they didn’t have any money, they didn’t have any formal education, but they had this fundamental belief that if they worked really really hard in the United States that they could have a better future. They could have better opportunity both for themselves, for their kids, and for their grandkids. What wound up happening is that despite the fact that neither of them had graduated from high school, all five of their kids, including my mom, graduated from college, three of them with advanced degrees. And now their youngest grandson is a member of the House of Representatives—that’s how it’s supposed to work in the United States. So, we went from being a land of opportunity, and now I worry that we have become xenophobic and we tried to put up walls where we used to have bridges. Now that is not to say that we don’t need border security, because we do. But we can have a secure border and still treat people with decency and humanity and respect. Those are the values I believe in. So in terms of some specific reform, I do think we need visa reform. Our business owners here want to see more labor, they want to see people, for example, the Guest Worker Program, dramatic reforms so they can fill more positions in parts of the economy where immigrant labor has been so vital, like agriculture. But we also need to do all we can to stand up for our “dreamers,” people who came here when they were one, two, three, four years old. I know many of them. Some of them have worked on our campaign. When I first was sworn in, our State of the Union guest, at my first State of the Union address that I attended, was a dreamer from UCSD who had gotten to the United States when she was only one. It was the only country that she knew. That people would want to deport her, that just makes no sense. So at the end of the day, we have a real problem because you got Republicans and Democrats alike, many of whom would rather have the issue of immigration to run on— the politics of it— rather than actually solving it. What I want to see is a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform proposal that would reform the visa program, treat our dreamers with the respect that they deserve, have a secure border, but ultimately provide an earned pathway to citizenship. And hopefully calmer heads will prevail. We shall see.

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