The nation’s governors urge Congress and the Administration to enact immigration reform that strengthens the economy and our communities and secures our borders and ports. Governors acknowledge the federal government’s responsibility to regulate the country’s immigration system as delegated by the Constitution. However, the current broken and outdated federal immigration system has a real and direct impact on our states. Our call for action is urgent. Governors offer the following principles to help inform and encourage a national discussion and bipartisan congressional action.
- The system should be federally funded. It is the responsibility of the federal government to manage the nation’s immigration system. Costs to fulfill these core federal responsibilities should not be shifted to states or local governments.
- Secure the border. The federal government must fulfill its responsibility to secure our borders and ports of entry and enforce existing immigration laws. We must also ensure the integrity of our visa system.
- Strengthen our economy. The nation’s immigration system must be updated to reflect 21st century needs and enable the United States to continue to lead in the interconnected global economy. Immigration policy must ensure that U.S. industries have sufficient access to highly skilled and hourly labor to fill jobs throughout the country that are otherwise unfilled. Reforms should also maximize the economic role played by immigrants as job creators, workers, consumers and taxpayers.
- Strengthen our communities. Reforms to our nation’s immigration system should consider the corresponding effects on families, children, demographic trends, public safety, the criminal justice system, labor market needs, taxpayers and humanitarian concerns. Reforms should provide stability and predictability to our communities. Governors encourage a respectful debate that leads to responsible solutions.
- Work with states as partners. Federal immigration policy will have far-ranging effects on states, including their economies, government programs and services. Consultation with states throughout this national debate is essential to ensure an immigration system that is more responsive to local needs and concerns and provides greater stability and certainty. Areas of partnership between the federal and state government should include determining workforce needs, provision of social and integration services and consultation on enforcement strategies, among others.
- Embrace a responsible approach. Successful reform requires balancing the entire immigration system to support the end goals of strengthening our economy and communities and securing our borders and ports. We support a collaborative approach and encourage compromise, which will be necessary to succeed in this reform endeavor.
Time limited (effective Winter Meeting 2017 – Winter Meeting 2019).
Adopted Winter Meeting 2017.