The success of our immigration system goes hand in hand with the success of our broader economy. That’s why the time to act is now. Our action should be based on our core principles and values, through six broad policy pillars:

One – A pathway to legal permanent residency and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants must be at the core of reform.

Two – Legalization should be earned, but not unattainable – a process not a punishment. You should have to go through a criminal background check, learn English, and pay back taxes.

Three – Family unification should continue as a key priority of our immigration policy. The goal must be to protect the sanctity of the family. Keeping families together not only keeps capital in the United States, it also maximizes the potential that these immigrants start family-based small businesses and grow our economy. Despite the economic benefits and moral imperative, millions wait over two decades to be reunited with family members. This must change.

Four – The hard work and talent of immigrants fuels our economy. Our immigration policy must expand the avenues for these valued workers to seek legal employment. As the president has suggested, let’s staple a green card to the diplomas of foreign students getting advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. We need to expand the H1-B visa program and, at the same time, we need effective visa programs for agricultural workers and for low-skilled, non-seasonal workers.