Today, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) delivered remarks on the state of immigration reform. He expressed disappointment with Congressional inaction and reiterated his committment to passing a bill. Full text of his remarks are below.
“From 2009-2010, I had been working with a group of bipartisan colleagues to draft immigration reform legislation. Unfortunately, Democratic Leadership refused to consider the bill when they had the majority.
During the last year and a half, I have been working non-stop with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft legislation that would obtain a majority of the Republicans and a number of the Democrats who are willing to put politics aside and get immigration reform done.
In particular, I want to thank Luis Gutierrez for all his help, for his willingness, when necessary, to take on Republicans, Democrats, and the President.
After lots of work and revisions, we finally drafted legislation that could garner the necessary bipartisan support. We learned our lessons from the 1986 amnesty bill and last year’s Senate bill, and did not repeat their mistakes.
Due to the extraordinary lack of trust in this President, I worked to ensure that the legislation would independently verify and hold this and future presidents accountable for finally securing the borders. The bill is a commonsense solution to illegal immigration that recognizes we are not going to spend tens of billions of dollars to roundup and deport millions of undocumented workers who have been here for many years. My solution would require those who came here illegally to earn legal status, earn their right to remain here, and demonstrate their commitment to the United States. It is an efficient and effective approach that is good for the American economy and fair to the people who came here legally.
I am grateful for the cooperation, advice, and trust I received from so many of my colleagues, specifically Speaker Boehner and his staff. I also want to thank Paul Ryan for his guidance, leadership, and friendship, and countless other House Republicans, like my legislative sister Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for their constructive input on this issue.
Despite our best efforts, today I was informed by the Republican leadership that they have no intention to bring this bill to the floor this year. It is disappointing and highly unfortunate, because we have a unique opportunity to secure the borders, fix our broken immigration system, and strengthen our economy.
This system is not going to fix itself, and delaying a commonsense solution is only going to make matters worse as is evident by what is going on today with the crisis on the southern border.
It is highly irresponsible not to deal with the issue. I know it is difficult, especially when you have a President that failed to build the trust of the American people or the U.S. Congress, and who has done little to enforce current law despite his assertions to the contrary. But we were sent here by the American people precisely to tackle difficult issues and not to take the easy way out.
By blocking reform, whether it was when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker or now, we are in effect abdicating our duty. Particularly when we have a President that is willing to unilaterally act through executive action, that he himself has said is legally circumspect, will not provide a long-term solution to our immigration system, and I believe could even make it worse.
I hope that in the near future leadership will reconsider and allow my legislation to come to the floor. I for one am not willing to give up and will continue to work until we can finally fix a broken immigration system that everyone recognizes is dysfunctional.
I want to make it clear that I am ready to proceed at any time.”