12/13/2014 04:42 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2015

Dear Senator Cruz: Stop Scapegoating Immigrant Families

Jake Wyman via Getty Images

Last night during the Senate debate on funding the government, I listened to my colleagues' remarks, some of which ranged far afield from the budget itself.

That was fine. But what was not fine -- what was objectionable, what was truly upsetting -- were the remarks from Senator Cruz blaming undocumented immigrants in this country for our economic woes.

He said, "This executive amnesty is profoundly unfair to the 92 million Americans who are not working right now... especially to the African-American community which is facing historic unemployment."

History has shown it is not just wrong, but dangerous to turn one group against another and scapegoat an entire community of people to score political points.

Senator Cruz railed against President Obama's executive action on immigration, calling it "illegal and unconstitutional amnesty."

But that description couldn't be more incorrect. There will not be amnesty for undocumented immigrants under the President's recent action.

This is about giving a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation for hardworking immigrants and those brought to this country as children. This is about keeping families together -- about real family values.

Every single President since 1952 has used his authority to make choices about how to most effectively execute and enforce our nation's immigration laws.

President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush both issued similar executive orders to keep families together.

And now, President Obama has likewise revised our immigration priorities to prevent families from being torn apart.

What President Obama has done is say, if you are a parent of a child who is a lawful U.S. resident you can stay in America if you register, pass a criminal background check, and pay your fair share of taxes.

And he says to these DREAMers who came here when they were kids: you too can come out of the shadows and no longer endure the daily fear of possible deportation.

These are young people who grew up in every way as "American" -- all that separates them from their classmates is a piece of paper. These are young people who are working hard to achieve the American dream.

These are young people like:

• Marcela Zhou, who moved from Mexico to the U.S. at the age of 12. After graduating as her high school's valedictorian, Marcela enrolled in UC San Diego, where she graduated with a degree in Human Biology.

• Luis Liang, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, excelled in school, and awarded a full-ride scholarship to U.C. Berkeley, where he graduated from the Haas School of Business.

• Itzel Guillen, who was born in Mexico City and came to the United States with her family nearly 14 years ago. She is currently a political science major at San Diego State University working and volunteering in her community.

So for Senator Cruz to stand in the beautiful Senate chamber and ask his colleagues to scapegoat and punish these DREAMers and the parents of U.S. citizens is a very bad day indeed. It's a dark day.

If Senator Cruz and his allies want to deport twelve million undocumented immigrants then they should say so. If they want to split up families, they should say so. Let's have that debate.

Because this is a nation of immigrants. It is who we are--who we always have been. We are a country that should respect the hardworking American children who want their parents to stay, a country that should respect the DREAMers who have proven their mettle and their worth to our country.

We are a country that should support the President's executive action as the temporary measure it is, and then come together to pass comprehensive immigration reform once and for all.