Throughout this campaign season, the issue of immigration reform is one that has come up again and again. Too often, though, the rhetoric obscures a simple truth:

As a nation of immigrants, we are strongest, most prosperous, and best equipped to take on the challenges of the 21st century when we embrace our diversity instead of fear.

I am the proud granddaughter of four immigrants who came to this country from Ireland, seeking a better life. Maybe like yours, my grandparents helped see this country through the Great Depression and then gave children in defense of this country in World War II. They instilled in my parents and in my nine siblings and me a sense of love for our land.

Many Americans have a story like this, about themselves, their parents, or ancestors some generations back. So when Donald Trump promises to build a wall, or rails against hardworking immigrants who come here in pursuit of a brighter future, his hateful and shortsighted rhetoric misses the point, because a sensible immigration system is both good for our economy and central to the promise of the American Dream.

That's why, in the Senate, I would be honored to fight for commonsense immigration reforms that create meaningful pathways to opportunity and citizenship while keeping our communities safe.

The simple fact is that our broken and outdated immigration system is in desperate need of an overhaul, which is why I support the bipartisan reforms developed by the "Gang of Eight," a group of Republicans and Democrats who in 2013 had the courage to put aside partisanship and ideology in pursuit of a real solution to this urgent problem.

Part of that solution includes serious investments in border security, and the 2013 bill would have doubled resources to secure the border. But we also need to recognize that there are more than 11 million undocumented people who live in this country, have built lives and relationships here, have started families and opened businesses, and have paid taxes and given back to their communities.

Whether they came here in search of opportunity or to escape violence or persecution, they share our values and our commitment to this country. To enable them fully and thoroughly to be partners in our communities, we need to create a path to citizenship, as the legislation would do.

Security and opportunity were two of the core components of the Gang of Eight legislation, which the Senate passed in 2013 with bipartisan support. Had the House done its part to pass the legislation and get it signed into law, this bill would have put us on the right track toward comprehensive immigration reform, and would have helped address dangerous gaps in our current policy. In the Senate, I will work across the aisle and help finally get this done.

I will also work to strengthen the Visa Waiver Program, because we should continue to enable tourists and business travelers to come and experience all that our country has to offer, but we should make sure that we are doing it safely, carefully evaluating which countries warrant greater scrutiny and closing loopholes that make it easier for dangerous people to come here.

Finally, we must remember the fact that the United States is a bighearted nation and, in uncertain times like these, we have an obligation to honor our tradition of welcoming refugees - many of them women and children - seeking peace and safety.

To be certain, we absolutely must have a vetting process that ensures that refugees are just that, not individuals who aim to do us harm. I will welcome the opportunity to work with the State Department and other agencies to ensure that they have the resources to thoroughly and efficiently vet every person who hopes to find a safe home in this country.

I know from my own family history that immigration is - and always has been - essential to our economy, our history, and our identity as Americans. This election year's vitriol and angry rhetoric aside, I know that most people feel the same. For my own immigrant ancestors and those of all Pennsylvanians, I look forward to rebuilding our immigration system, keeping our nation safe, and expanding the promise of the American Dream.