On Wednesday, House Democratic leaders held a press conference to respond to H.R. 2, also known as the Child Deportation Act, proposed by House Republicans. They expressed concerns that the legislation could negatively impact both immigrant and border communities, as well as the country’s economy.
During the press conference, Representative Linda Sanchez shared her own immigrant story, stating that she was the “proud daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico.” She explained that her parents came to America “with very little but a lot of hope that they could build a better life for their children” and worked hard to ensure their children received a good education. Sanchez emphasized that while her family’s story had a positive outcome, many immigrants’ stories are “far less sunny,” including those of children fleeing violence and poverty.
Sanchez criticized the Border Bill, stating that it neglects the people behind immigration, and acknowledged that the American immigration system is broken and requires new solutions. However, she argued that H.R. 2, also known as the Child Deportation Act, was not the solution, describing it as a “resurgence of failed MAGA border policies that promise harsh enforcement and nothing more.”
Sanchez raised several problematic aspects of H.R.2 during the press conference. She argued that the bill would eliminate the parole system, making it impossible for individuals fleeing violence or natural disasters to seek asylum by crossing the borders between ports of entry.
Furthermore, the legislation would require organizations like the Red Cross and Catholic Charities to verify individuals’ immigration status before providing life-saving services at the border, which could pose significant challenges in emergency situations.
Sanchez also criticized the bill’s proposed nationwide e-verify system, which she claimed would destroy American businesses and disrupt the country’s food system. Additionally, the legislation would result in the deportation of individuals like Dreamers who have lived in the US their entire lives if they fail to maintain their status.
She also expressed concern about the bill’s provision allowing unaccompanied children to be detained for a month or more, which she said would be harmful and inhumane.
Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries emphasized the importance of immigration reform in the United States during a speech, stating that the US Citizenship Act is the appropriate solution. “We do have a broken immigration system here in the United States of America, and it does require a thoughtful and comprehensive solution, an approach that is anchored in our values as a country based on two pillars. One, a nation anchored, of course, in the rule of law, but a nation of immigrants, people who come from all across the world to form the gorgeous mosaic that is America and the diversity in America,” said Jeffries.
Jeffries believes that the US Citizenship Act offers a thoughtful approach to address the issues in the broken immigration system. He sees it as a way to unify immigrant families and make smart investments at the border. He also highlighted the importance of DREAMERS, who he referred to as “already such an important and integral and intimate part of American society.”
The Democratic leader expressed opposition to the Child Deportation Act, also known as H.R.2, which he believes is one of the extreme priorities of MAGA Republicans. Jeffries criticized Republicans for their desire to “waste billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on a medieval border wall, a 14th-century solution that will not work for a 21st-century challenge.”
Jeffries contrasted Republicans’ desire to deport children with their unwillingness to take action against American citizens who smuggle fentanyl. He stated that Republicans won’t do anything to arrest smugglers of fentanyl who, he said, are American citizens.
Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar expressed that House Democrats are prepared to invest in securing the border. He compared this to the impact of “Team Extreme vs. Team Normal,” with “Extreme” referring to the MAGA Republicans.
Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) criticized the Republican proposal, labeling it as cruel. She praised the US Citizenship Act, stating that it “makes America stronger.” She noted that undocumented immigrants are often victims of unfair labor practices and exploitation, which the US Citizenship Act aims to address.
Representative Veronica Escobar (D-TX) emphasized that offering legal pathways is the best way to address the situation in border communities like her own. She argued that the American immigration system is currently broken because Republicans refuse to provide legal pathways, limiting their solutions to only offering asylum. According to her, extending legal pathways is crucial to fixing the system.
“The federal government has approached immigration as a border-only situation. We’ve seen that it doesn’t work. As the representative who serves and represents the community on the border that has seen the largest number of apprehensions and encounters in 2022, and already in 2023 historic numbers as well, we are not going to address what’s happening at our border in the way that Republicans are attempting to approach this which is focused only on enforcement and shutting down every possible legal pathway,” Escobar said.
She added that it is important to treat immigrants with “dignity and humanity” and called for bipartisan collaboration in reforming outdated immigration laws.
Representative Yvette Clarke (D-NY) shared that she is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants. She voiced her opposition to the detention of children, calling it an unacceptable solution. Clarke emphasized that only Congress can provide a path to citizenship, implying that this would be a more appropriate solution to address immigration concerns.
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