We have just one planet, and it's up to us to protect it.
As a lifelong Floridian, I have a deep appreciation of our land's incredible beauty and bounty as well as its vulnerability. I have been and will continue to be a strong advocate for the restoration and protection of the Everglades. I moreover pledge to protect our shorelines from the dangers posed by offshore oil drilling and to protect the Endangered Species Act from politically-motivated attacks. Florida is blessed with more treasured beaches than any other state in the Union and has the third-highest number of endangered species in the nation. We must prioritize their protection.
I am also convinced that climate change poses a serious threat to our state and our nation. As President Obama said in his Second Inaugural Address, we can no longer ignore devastating fires, crippling drought, dangerous storms, and rising sea levels. I am committed to smart energy policies that fight climate change by cutting carbon emissions and boosting renewable fuel production. As the solar industry has demonstrated, by investing in new clean technologies, we can not only protect our planet but also create new high-wage jobs.
Growing up in Florida—with its tremendous cultural diversity—is excellent preparation for serving as an advocate for peace, justice, and human rights in Congress. I remain committed to fighting for the underserved and the persecuted globally.
My foreign policy priorities include the following:
Ending the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Recent estimates suggest that the past decades wars have cost American taxpayers upwards of $4 trillion. This is to say nothing of the thousands of precious lives lost. At a time of widespread budget cuts to education and other vital services, we simply cannot continue these wars. I am advocating in Congress for a prompt end to our wars abroad.
Honoring our Troops: In Congress, I will continue to advocate that our troops have the best equipment, healthcare, and services available. The one percent of Americans who voluntarily raise their right hand and swear to protect the rest of us deserve nothing less. These individuals also deserve honest, forthright and clear answers whenever we choose to send them into harm's way. As a Member of Congress, I will make sure that we make smart, intelligent decisions regarding the use of military force.
Standing with Israel: Our bond with Israel is unbreakable. In Congress, I have fought to affirm this truth by sponsoring legislation to ensure robust assistance to Israel and apply strong and steady pressure on Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Peace in the Middle East depends on reason, understanding, and acceptance that all parties have the basic right to exist. I call on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist as an essential step to ending a conflict that has lasted too long and taken far too many lives.
Strengthening Caribbean-American Relations: I am proud of my Caribbean-American heritage, and I am committed to fighting for human rights and economic progress in the region. In Congress, I am advocating to ensure that Cuba protects the human rights of all of its citizens, including the freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, and the right to vote in fair elections. I have pushed for proactive development and recovery assistance for the people of Haiti, championing causing including Temporary Protected Status for Haitians currently in the United States and stronger protections for Haitian women from gender-based violence.
America is still the strongest, wealthiest nation on earth. We must continue to do our part to reduce poverty, raise living standards, and strengthen cooperation globally.
Miami-Dade County—parts of which I am fortunate to represent in Congress—is home to the largest Haitian-American population in the United States, and I am proud to call Haitian-Americans my friends, my constituents, and, yes, my family.
This made the events of January 2010 particularly heart-wrenching for me. Approximately 293,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, leaving 1.5 million people in insecure living situations including camps with high levels of violence. Nearly 80 percent of the schools in Port-au-Prince were rendered unusable, leaving young people with limited opportunity and no place to spend their days. Almost 25 percent of civil servants in Port-au-Prince were killed, leaving the nation with a staggering need for government capacity including judicial officers and police.
Haiti is a top priority for me in Congress. I have been a tireless advocate to ensure the continuation of post-earthquake Temporary Protected Status for Haitian immigrants until 2013. With support from more than a dozen Members of the US Congress, I developed a resolution calling on the US Government, the Government of Haiti, and others in the international community to take specific steps to reduce the incidence of gender-based violence in Haiti.
America has always been a nation of immigrants. People from other nations—who arrived here both with and without documentation—have enriched our society and made tremendous contributions to our economy. This is true now more than ever. As we seek to overcome the lasting effects of the Great Recession, immigrants are engines of job-creation and a vital source of economic strength.
Since my time in the Florida Legislature, I have been a proud voice for fairness in immigration. Our current system is broken. With backlogs lasting years, millions of people are kept from reuniting with their family members or contributing to our economy. In the immigration process, many more are deprived of the basic legal rights that our Constitution enshrines.
It's time to bring America's hardworking immigrants out of the shadows. President Obama acted showed true leadership by implementing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)policy, protection a million young immigrants from deportation. The next step should be passage of the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which I cosponsored in Congress to provide safety to countless new Americans and add upwards of $329 billion to the US economy. This year, I'm calling on Congress to do what America has demanded and pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan that creates a path for undocumented Americans to obtain citizenship.
I am fighting for an immigration system that respects families, protects human rights, and strengthens our economy.