Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Representing the 18th District of TEXAS


Dec 17, 2013
Press Release
April 15, 2013

Jackson Lee legislation provides comprehensive, humane and practical solutions to immigration challenges and promotes family unification

Houston, TX - Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee Immigration Subcommittee and the Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee released the following statement regarding H.R. 1525, the “Save America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2013”:

“I have been working on immigration issues since serving as the Ranking Member of the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. The immigration challenges facing our nation affects all regions of our country and every sector of the economy. These comprehensive challenges require comprehensive solutions. That is why I have reintroduced the “SAVE America Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2013,” legislation that I have introduced each Congress since 2007.

The Senate will soon be taking up immigration reform legislation developed by the ‘Gang of Eight’ and it is expected that the House will begin its deliberations when the Senate completes its work. My legislation contains the legislative proposals that are likely to be included in the Senate bill and is a good starting point to begin the hard but necessary legislative work that must be done in the House. This legislation, which I developed in consultation over the years with representatives of stakeholder groups, addresses the challenges posed by our broken immigration system in a comprehensive, humane and family friendly way.

Among the highlights of the SAVE America Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2013 are:

  1. Provides a path to earned access to legalization for those who meet certain eligibility requirements, among them:
    1. (Residency requirement) The alien was physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding the date on which this provision was enacted and has maintained continuous physical presence since then; and
    2.  (Community service) if older than 18, has performed at least 40 hours of community service.

Some of the other provisions are as follows:

  • The opportunity for young person’s brought to the United States as children to earn access to legalization and later citizenship and to serve in the military and attend college, which will help make our nation better and stronger.
  • Promotes family reunification by increases in the allotment of family based immigrations visas.
  • Allows aunts and uncles or grandparents to adopt an orphaned or abandoned niece, nephew, or grandchild
  • Requires the Secretary of State to establish within the Department of State a Board of Family-based Visa Appeals.  The Board would have authority to review any discretionary decision of a consular officer to deny a visa to someone who is the beneficiary of an approved family-based visa petition. 
  • Provides “age‑out” protection for children when a benefits application (other than an application for naturalization) is not adjudicated within 90 days
  • Provides temporary status pending receipt of permanent resident status by amending current law to permit additional relatives to enter the United States on a nonimmigrant visitor's visa to wait for the processing of a visa petition.
  • Provides resources and equipment for Border Patrol personnel to carry out their duties in a safe and effective manner

“Comprehensive immigration reform is the only logical response if we are to address the challenges we face at our borders. Within our own country, this reform must include the chance to earn pathway to legalization. Millions of people are living in the country without documentation; most of them are hard-working people looking for a better life but are entering our country illegally; our legal immigration system continually has enormous backlogs, preventing valuable skilled and unskilled labor from entering the country; and our immigration courts are understaffed and underfunded.

“If we let the immigration reform debate focus primarily on minute elements we lose sight of the many other important things we need to do to fix our broken immigration system. It has been estimated that between 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States.  Most of them are hard working and law-abiding persons who have become productive members of our society.  It serves no purpose to keep them in the shadows of our society without lawful status.  It is not good for them, and it is not in the best interests of the United States. The process of legalization will also create jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy.

“Recently I met with two prominent immigration activists from Mississippi and California, respectively, and again, felt their passion and pride as they described their efforts to help this nation achieve comprehensive immigration reform.  And I look forward to working with them and other stakeholders when it comes to this important issue.

“America has been waiting for years for the Congress and the President to fix our broken immigration system. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers, on both sides of the aisle, and the Administration to get the job done this year so that 2013 will be remembered as the year that Congress finally passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included a path to earned legalization status as we continue to secure our border. My bill, the “SAVE America Comprehensive Immigration Act,” H.R. 1525, does that. This is the right thing to do for the country, and now is the time.”