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Yesterday I attended the #TimeIsNow Immigration Rally at the US Capitol with thousands of immigrants and advocates from across the country. The images above are just a small sampling of the patriotism and peaceful activism that I encountered there.

Here are a few simple facts about the immigration debate:

  • There are 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in this country today and 63% of them have been in the US for over 10 years.
  • Immigration reform that includes legalizing these 11 million undocumented would add $1.5 trillion dollars to the GDP over 10 years.
  • Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes every year, but are not allowed to use the social programs that their tax payments help fund.
  • In 2010, 16.6 million people lived in “mixed status” families (families including at least one undocumented member). Nine million of these families have at least one child born in America.

Deportation means tearing families apart. It means taking tax-paying parents away from their US-born children. It means weakening our economy.

Given this knowledge, many of the arguments against comprehensive immigration reform seem antiquated and misguided.  This week, a bipartisan group of Senators agreed on a plan to overhaul to US immigration system and include a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals residing in our nation. The plan is reportedly not too different from that of the Obama administration. It gives undocumented immigrants provisional status if they are able to pass a background check, learn English and pay back taxes to the federal government. They are able to get green cards after a 10-year waiting period, and attain citizenship after 13. The plan also strengthens the process for admitting future immigrant workers and creates a better employment verification system.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of hurdles to get over – such as how to deal with the defective E-Verify system – but families across America are counting on comprehensive reform to keep their fathers, mothers and other loved ones from being deported. And they need action, fast.

For more detail on the Senate bill, click here.