March 17, 2021 ~ WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Salazar joined with Congressional Republicans to offer new solutions to reform our broken immigration system and address the crisis at our southern border. While Washington Democrats have proposed divisive and unworkable legislation, Rep. Salazar is leading and convening a coalition to fix the issue of illegal immigration once and for all.
At a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, Salazar laid out the major principles that serve as the foundation of her proposal, including: Border Security, Asylum Reform, Protection for Dreamers, and Practical Solutions for the Undocumented and Guest Workers. She emphasized the themes of Dignity and Redemption as a compassionate and reasonable approach to address this complex problem that has lingered for decades.
“No political party holds a monopoly on compassion in our county,” said Congresswoman Salazar. “The principles in my plan will help bring Dignity and Redemption to our undocumented population as we work to secure our border. We have a crisis on our Southern border, children are being trafficked, and we must do everything possible to fix our immigration system once and for all.”
Prior to serving Congress, Salazar spent 35 years as a Spanish-language journalist covering border crises, Central American conflicts, and immigration issues affecting her community in Miami, FL.
Congresswoman Salazar currently represents Florida’s beautiful 27th Congressional district which includes most of the City of Miami, its suburbs, and the beaches. She serves on the Small Business Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Florida Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar on immigration
Dignity Plan PDFDignity-Proposal-DRAFT
Congresswoman Salazar Introduces Dignity Act
February 8, 2022 — WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27) and group of her Republican House colleagues introduced the long-awaited Dignity Act, a complete immigration reform bill consisting of 3 core principles: stopping illegal immigration, providing a dignified solution for immigrants living in America, and strengthening the American workforce and economy.
Original cosponsors are Representatives Dan Newhouse (WA-04), John Curtis (UT-03), Pete Sessions (TX-17), Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR), Tom Reed (NY-23), and Peter Meijer (MI-03).
“Our broken immigration system is fracturing America — economically, morally, socially, and politically. It’s threatening the American Dream and our very way of life,” said Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27). “Today, I am introducing the Dignity Act to secure our border, provide a dignified solution to immigrants in the United States, and support American workers. While we are a nation of laws, we are also a nation of second chances. I’m grateful to my colleagues for joining me to keep the American Dream alive.”
“For 25-years, illegal immigration and protecting the American worker, American sovereignty, and the rights of those who’ve sought refuge in the United States has been a balancing act between Congress and Presidential administrations. These entities have failed to work together to find agreement on a plan and laws, leaving the American people in chaos and danger,” said Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-17). “I applaud Congresswoman Maria Salazar for coming to Congress with substantial ideas to fix this pressing issue. Maria has chosen to tackle an extremely difficult situation—one that has only increased in severity every day since Biden took the Oath of Office. I am proud to be joining the great work Maria has started to safeguard our nation and reinforce the Rule of Law.”
“The Utah Compact on Immigration, first adopted by Utah’s government and business leaders in 2010, established 5 pillars of focus for immigration policy: Federal Solutions, Law Enforcement, Families, Economy, and a Free Society. While I have been in Congress, I have used the Utah Compact to guide me in developing and voting on immigration policy. In line with these values, I am proud to support the DIGNITY Act, which addresses all 5 of these pillars,” said Congressman John Curtis (UT-03). “Like the Compact, the DIGNITY Act balances the need for a secure and working border with compassionate policies that keep families together, ensures employers have access to a reliable foreign workers, and welcomes people into our society and communities. Fair immigration policy is the Utah way and I am proud to be an original cosponsor and supporter of this important bill to provide certainty to Dreamers, reform asylum laws and procedures, provide a path to redemption for those who have contributed to our society for decades, and overhaul our broken immigration system consistent with Utah’s values.”
“One only has to look at our southern border right now to know that illegal immigration has reached a crisis point in this country. Since coming to Congress, reforming our broken system has been one of my top priorities—particularly by ensuring we have a workable guestworker program for our agriculture industry,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse (WA-04). This legislation builds off of those efforts, recognizes the contributions of immigrants, strengthens our national security, and bolsters our local economies and small businesses. I am proud to join Rep. Salazar in introducing the Dignity Act, a comprehensive proposal to finally fix our broken immigration system.”
“Border security and comprehensive immigration reform are responsibilities that Congress has failed to act on for far too long,” said Congressman Peter Meijer (MI-03). “Securing our borders and making humane reforms to our immigration system are not mutually exclusive. Both of these actions are necessary for the United States to live up to its principles as a nation of laws and values. This bill offers real solutions for fixing our broken immigration system that will enhance our national security, reinvigorate our economy, and enrich our society. There is room for both security and compassion in our immigration policies if we have the political will to find it. I am proud to join my colleagues in this historic effort, and I thank Congresswoman Salazar for her leadership on this issue.”
“The Dignity Act introduced by my colleague, María Elvira Salazar, is a step forward in providing solutions to our flawed immigration system that for decades has left immigrants living in fear and uncertainty. This bill would provide a path to legal status for immigrants that are already living and contributing to our communities, provide more resources for border security, target criminal networks and address the record backlog of cases in immigration courts. It is time we have laws in place that work for America while strengthening our workforce and economy,” said Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR).
The Dignity Act is the only realistic solution proposed in Congress that fully secures the border, reestablishes law and order in our immigration system, enacts a 10-year Dignity Program providing renewable legal status, and offers an additional optional redemption path to permanent legalization. This reasonable and compassionate approach will finally fix an immigration system that has been broken for decades.
The Dignity Act was written in consultation with American businesses leaders, agriculture and farming industries, the faith-based community, immigration reform groups, and border security experts.
In March 2021, Rep. Salazar announced her vision for immigration reform through the Dignity Plan. Less than one year later, Salazar has made good on her promise. It is the first substantial immigration reform bill written by a freshman Member of Congress in modern history.
Key Provisions of the Dignity Act:
Border Security and Enforcement
- Authorizes funding to fully secure America’s border at no cost to American taxpayers.
- Implements best border technology available – including radar, cameras, infrared, secure communications, and autonomous detection technology.
- Restarts all currently paused border infrastructure contracts and increases funding for physical border infrastructure.
- Hires 3,000 new DHS border security personnel and prioritizes hiring of military veterans and law enforcement agents.
- Creates a task force to detect and destroy cartel smuggling tunnels along the southern border.
- Mandates 100% nationwide e-verify to ensure all American business are hiring legal workers.
- Increases criminal penalties for illegal border crossings and immediately deports illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
- Expands U.S. authorities to go after transnational criminals, smugglers, human traffickers, drug traffickers, and gangs like MS-13 operating outside the United States.
- Establishes 4 Regional Processing Centers to house asylum claimants at the border to end catch and release policies while cases are being determined.
- Enacts last-in, first-out judicial policy to cut down multi-year backlog in immigration courts.
- Hires 1,700 new immigration court personal to rule on asylum cases faster.
- Curbs irregular migration from Central America and address roots causes of northern migration by bring law, order, and increased development to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Addressing Immigrants Living in America
- Creates immediate legal status and streamlined path for Dreamers.
- Dignity Program (10 Years): Through the 10-year Dignity Program, undocumented immigrants will be provided a chance to work, earn legal status, pay restitution, and get right with the law. They must comply with all federal and state laws, pass a criminal background check, work or serve as a family caregiver, and pay taxes. They must contribute to the American Worker Fund to begin the program. The Dignity program provides work authorization and protection from removal proceedings as long as conditions are being met. Dignity participants will pay $10,000 in restitution during the 10 years of the program, must check in with DHS every 2 years, and must remain in good public standing.
- Individuals in the Dignity Program will not have access to federal means-tested benefits or entitlements. They will be net contributors to tax revenue and the U.S. economy.
- The Redemption Program (+5 years): The Redemption Program is optional, and individuals must complete the 10-year Dignity Program to start the Redemption Program. It will offer a chance at redemption and to earn more permanent legal status. The 5-year Redemption Program requires that participants learn English and U.S. civics, and provides the opportunity for those seeking permanent legal status to contribute to their local community either through local volunteer work, national community service, or increased contributions into the American Worker Fund. It also opens up eligibility for existing pathways to citizenship, but would not be a special pathway. Individuals applying would go to the back of the line.
- Enforcement through a functioning mandatory e-verify system and certification of a fully secure border will be completed before the Redemption Program can begin.
American Workforce and Economy
- Creates an American Worker Fund, using restitution payments from the Dignity and Redemption programs, at no-cost to taxpayers. This provides grants to American citizens for workforce education initiatives, apprenticeship programs, and Career and Technical Education to give opportunities for Americans to enter new careers.
- For every $10,000 paid by 1 immigrant in the Dignity program will, this can retrain at least 2 Americans workers.
- Implements a market-based solution for our labor shortages by expanding and modernizing the H-2A Agricultural Guest Worker program to adequately respond to workforce needs.
- Updates the antiquated definition of farming to reflect modern-day farming practices, setting a policy that works for all of America’s farmers, growers, and ranchers.
- Provides wage stability for farmers and ensures a resilient and reliable agricultural commodity supply chain.
- Combats food price inflation so families can continue to have access to affordable groceries and a large variety of products that originate from American farms.
- Includes the H-2B Returning Worker Exception Act to ensure that small and seasonal businesses can fulfill their labor needs and contribute to our nation’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
For remarks from Congresswoman Salazar in English, click here.
For remarks from Congresswoman Salazar in Spanish, click here.
For a one-pager on the Dignity Act, click here.
For a brief background on the Dignity Act, click here.
For a more detailed summary of the Dignity Act, click here.
For a section-by-section breakdown of the Dignity Act, click here.
For the full bill text, click here.
Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar will continue working to advocate for the Dignity Act. In her first term in Congress, Salazar has been lauded as a champion for immigration reform in addition to being a champion for freedom, prosperity, and American values.
The Miami community has rallied around Salazar for her bold leadership on immigration reform. Salazar has spent 35 years as a Spanish-language primetime journalist, covering immigration and speaking with the Hispanic community in America about the appropriate way to address these complex issues.