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The time to address immigration reform is now. Reform is not only needed to secure our borders, but it is needed to protect the American dream.

For many Americans, their parents or grandparents immigrated to this country in hopes of finding a better life and achieving the American dream. As a young man, I immigrated to this county from Syria in hopes of earning a quality education and living a better life. Since becoming an American citizen, I have raised a family, owned my own engineering company, served as an elected official in my community, helped raise money for our local community college, and have served on many boards and authorities. There is no doubt that only in America could an immigrant like myself witness so much success.

While we want and need to secure our borders, we cannot turn our back on those immigrants who have the same aspirations as those who came before us. Today, our immigration system is broken. All too often, we welcome foreign students into our colleges and universities, provide them with the best education, and then force them to leave. Instead of using their education to create innovative companies and grow new jobs here at home, they do this overseas.

By reforming our immigration system properly, we can ensure that the best global talent, future entrepreneurs, and job creators stay in this country and build on the successes of those who came before us. For example, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Immigrants also start more than 25 percent of all businesses in seven of the eight sectors of the economy that the U.S. government expects to grow the fastest over the next decade.

We can all agree that our government has no greater responsibility than to protect and defend our homeland, beginning with a safe, secure, and strong border. This involves implementing more strategic fencing, more boots on the ground with increased support for law enforcement, and strengthening the use of technology all along our borders. Additionally, we need a process that forces everyone in America illegally to pass a criminal background check to identify the hardened criminals, to pay back taxes and fines, to learn English and get in line with the law. Once we know exactly who is in our country, we can remove criminals and those who pose a threat, while allowing those who contribute positively to continue doing so under the rule of law.

Our leaders in Washington should also work to protect the American dream. There is no doubt that we live in the greatest country in the world and there is no reason why we cannot secure our borders and protect the American dream at the same time.

Please join me and the Michigan FWD.us coalition in urging Washington to prioritize the fixing of our broken immigration system. Our county was built on a strong immigration policy and our future depends on it.

Abe Munfakh, chairman

Arab American and Chaldean Council

Lathrup Village

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