PATERSON, NJ - As Americans across the country voice their opinions about immigration reform, 9th Congressional District Congressman Bill Pascrell says there’s one thing missing; actually knowing the current law.

Pascrell held a forum Thursday evening to discuss issues related to immigration reform, using the opportunity as means to educate people on the topic’s legislation. The congressman says it’s important to understand the country’s policy on immigration and national security should be the top priority when reforming the law.

The forum was held at International High School in Paterson, Pascrell’s hometown. Residents throughout the 9th congressional district were invited to share their opinions on immigration reform and seek advice from immigration lawyer, Jerry Gonzales.

Sign Up for E-News

Pascrell says Americans need to be more aware of the current law regarding immigration, stating that some congressmen don’t even know what they are reforming.

“You can’t reform what you don’t know,” said Pascrell. “Nobody knows what the current law is now.”

While lack of knowledge of the actual law may be a problem, so is the country’s perception of what countries contribute to the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, according to Pascrell. He says illegal immigrants come from all over the world, not jut South American countries.

“This is not simply a south of the border problem,” said Pascrell, during the forum.

Pascrell says the current law isn’t working for anyone.  Immigrants, business owners and the country’s security are all suffering under what Pascrell calls a broken system.

The bill, which is more than 800 pages long, includes a $3 billion border security plan.  The money will cover technological and personnel expenses.

The legislation mandates the Department of Homeland Security Secretary to design a southern border fencing strategy and a comprehensive border security strategy within six months.  Pascrell says undocumented immigrants are a threat to the country’s national security, continuing to state, the only way to protect the country is to know who is living in the United States.  The bill needs to include a plan that will allow immigrants to come from "behind the shadows" without fear, according to the congressman. 

“You cannot protect the United States of America without knowing who is in this country,” said Pascrell.

The congressman said he will continue to hold educational forums on immigration throughout the 9th congressional district.