As the immigration reform debate heats up on Capitol Hill this week, the White House has a new video featuring deputy senior adviser David Simas talking about his parents’ arrival in the United States from Portugal four decades ago.
Simas, 42, joined the Obama administration in January after overseeing the polling operation for the president’s re-election campaign. In the video, posted to the White House’s YouTube account, Simas says his parents taught him that being an American citizen means both rights and responsibilities.
“You’re not only remembering the culture your parents brought, but also fitting into this American culture,” he says. “When we think about what’s at stake for immigration reform, it’s a continuation of what we’ve always been — both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin considering amendments Thursday to a bipartisan proposal to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, and President Obama has been trying to build support for the sweeping legislation.
Simas, who grew up in Taunton, Mass., emphasizes that immigration reform must consist of four major components – strengthening border security, ensuring Americans are protected in the workplace, allowing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and rebalancing the legal visa program to allow family members and skilled workers into the country.
“There’s a lot at stake,” he says. “What we need to do is lean in and make sure we solve this problem once and for all.”