Press Releases

WA Dems Concerned about Detention of DREAMer, Denounce ICE Raids

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), joined by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Adam Smith (WA-09), Denny Heck (WA-10), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Rick Larsen (WA-02), and Suzan DelBene (WA-01), sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to express concern that enforcement priorities are now so broad that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, such as Daniel Ramirez Medina, may be caught up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.

February 17, 2017

Under the Executive Order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” Mr. Ramirez should not have been a priority for detention by ICE. The letter seeks clarification of the changes to ICE’s enforcement priorities and the practices of ICE agents at the doors and in the homes of immigrants.

“We expect due process and facts to guide government agency’s actions,” the members of Congress wrote. “But what we have seen from this administration is repeated falsehoods about immigrants and refugees, and suspicion and allegations rule the day. This is unacceptable, and we demand better.”

That America may break its promise to DACA recipients, who came out of the shadows to sign up for the program with the understanding that they would not be targeted for detention and deportation if they followed the law, is of particular concern to the members of Congress. Further, the Senators and Representatives note that immigration raids do not succeed in creating safe communities.

“In nearly all circumstances, engaging in immigration raids to detain people is unnecessary and damaging to our communities,” wrote the members of Congress.

Specifically, the letter requests:

  •        A detailed description of any change in ICE policy since January 19, 2017, that allows for ICE agents to detain a DACA recipient, and under what conditions. 
  •        A detailed description of how ICE conducts oversight of its enforcement actions, including as it pertains to DACA recipients who were detained “collaterally” to other enforcement targets.
  •        A copy of any written policies or standard practices ICE agents use to guide their actions when they are presented with legal documents by individuals in the home of a person who is the target of an ICE raid.
  •        A description of how the Executive Order pertaining to interior enforcement will be implemented by local ICE agents as it relates to DACA recipients, and what guidance local ICE agents were provided on this matter.
  •        A copy of any policies used by ICE when issuing press statements pertaining to allegations against a detainee that are not proven in a Federal criminal court or State criminal court.

A copy of the letter can be found below.

February 17, 2017
The Honorable John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Kelly,

We write to express concern that the Executive Order titled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” seems to expand enforcement priorities so broadly that even Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients could be susceptible. It appears that local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested a recipient of the DACA program in error. We want to inquire whether ICE has changed its enforcement practices pertaining to DACA recipients. We are also deeply concerned the Department may have altered the procedures and practices of ICE agents at the doors and in the homes of immigrants. This is clearly demonstrated by the detainment of Mr. Daniel Ramirez Medina near Seattle, a recipient of DACA whose attorney states there is no apparent reason he should have been detained. We are particularly concerned about Mr. Ramirez’s case and would like a full briefing at the earliest possible date on all actions and evidence that led ICE to detain Mr. Ramirez after learning he is a DACA recipient.

Young people applied for the DACA program with the promise that applying would not result in immigration enforcement actions as long as they followed the law. DACA recipients have been carefully vetted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and granted permission to remain in the United States and authorization to work, a clear indication DACA recipients are not an enforcement priority. Moreover, in nearly all circumstances engaging in immigration raids to detain people is unnecessary and damaging to our communities. These raids wreak havoc in immigrant communities across the country. Mr. Ramirez’s case, and the lack of clear communication regarding his arrest, will only cause more anxiety and confusion among immigrant communities in Washington state and across the United States.

We expect due process and facts to guide government agency’s actions. But what we have seen from this administration is repeated falsehoods about immigrants and refugees, and suspicion and allegations rule the day. This is unacceptable, and we demand better. We request that you provide to our staff:

•       A detailed description of any change in ICE policy since January 19, 2017, that allows for ICE agents to detain a DACA recipient, and under what conditions. 

•       A detailed description of how ICE conducts oversight of its enforcement actions, including as it pertains to DACA recipients who were detained “collaterally” to other enforcement targets.

•       A copy of any written policies or standard practices ICE agents use to guide their actions when they are presented with legal documents by individuals in the home of a person who is the target of an ICE raid.

•       A description of how the Executive Order pertaining to interior enforcement will be implemented by local ICE agents as it relates to DACA recipients, and what guidance local ICE agents were provided on this matter.

•       A copy of any policies used by ICE when issuing press statements pertaining to allegations against a detainee that are not proven in a Federal criminal court or State criminal court.

 

We are deeply troubled by the lack of communication and transparency in ICE’s handling of this matter and expect a prompt reply to this letter.

Sincerely,

###

Congressman Smith Statement on Concerning Immigration and Customs Enforcement Actions

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to extremely disturbing reports in numerous states across the country that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have been targeting individuals who have a legal right under current law to be in the United States:

February 15, 2017

“Any attempt by the Trump Administration to reverse course on long-standing protections afforded under the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is completely unacceptable. To deport those acting in accordance with DACA flies in the face of American ideals, and shuts the door on members of our communities who have done no harm. Anyone facing deportation proceedings must be afforded appropriate access to counsel, and their due process rights protected.

“Under the Obama Administration, I raised serious concerns about Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities and called for transparency about the agency’s actions. I strongly believe that our immigration policy can be conducted in a way that keeps families together, benefits the economy, and protects the rights of the vulnerable. The Trump Administration must keep Congress updated about the goals and objectives of these “enforcement actions,” and well as the process and procedure by which they are being carried out.

“I call upon the Department of Homeland Security, as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to clarify their standards on DACA recipients. Senselessly scaring communities through a lack of transparency and strong-arm tactics is shameful.” 

Congressman Adam Smith visited Compass Veterans Center on Friday, February 10th, to deliver valentines made by local students through his office’s second annual Valentines for Vets program. Congressman Smith wants to make sure that our veterans receive recognition and thanks for their service around Valentine’s Day. 

On Monday, February 13th, Congressman Smith’s staff delivered additional valentines to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of Washington and Seattle Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital. Students from eighteen elementary schools participated in the Valentines for Vets program this year, making over 1,000 valentines for local veterans. This outreach effort wouldn’t be possible without the support of our local students and teachers. This annual program continues to be an engaging activity to help teach young people about the role of the members of the armed services and the sacrifices they make for us.   

Participating Schools:

  • Hamlin-Robinson Elementary
  • Wing Luke Elementary
  • Gregory Heights Elementary
  • Mount View Elementary
  • Beacon Hill International Elementary
  • McMichen Heights Elementary
  • Southern Heights Elementary
  • Cedarhurst Elementary
  • Dunlap Elementary
  • Sherwood Forest Elementary
  • Neeley O’Brien Elementary
  • Bowl Lake Elementary
  • Wildwood Elementary
  • Hilltop Elementary
  • Green Gables Elementary
  • Cascades Elementary
  • Mirror Lake Elementary
  • Lake Grove Elementary 

See more photos here: https://goo.gl/YKA9mp

Smith Statement on U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Upholding American Values

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Smith released the following statement in response to the Ninth Circuit Court decision on Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s challenge to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. The court determined today that the recent suspension of President’s travel ban should remain in place:

February 9, 2017

“President Trump’s executive order banning refugees is in clear contradiction of America values. I am pleased to see that a three-judge panel for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling that temporarily blocked President Trump’s executive order.  His reckless actions regarding refugees and visas—and insulting a federal judge—are contrary to America’s founding principles and threaten our nation’s security.  I applaud the State of Washington for bringing this lawsuit, and I will continue to advocate for smart, thoughtful policies that advance our national interests and live up to our ideals.” 

Smith Statement Announcing Commitment by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Nominee Shulkin to Support Seattle VA Hospital

Washington, D.C. – After meeting with individual veterans as well as Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) over the past year, Congressman Smith and his staff have worked to help identify and address core issues at the Seattle VA. Congressman Smith has continually heard of obstacles that veterans face in accessing care. which largely stem from unfilled management positions, an overreliance on “acting” roles that lack decision-making authority, and frequent turnover in leadership. These deficiencies have led to a de facto paralysis at the Seattle hospital, leaving many veterans out in the cold. Today, Congressman Smith released the following statement following conversations with VA Under Secretary Shulkin:

February 7, 2017

“I applaud the commitment by VA Under Secretary Shulkin to send a team of management improvement specialists to the Seattle Veterans Affairs Hospital within 60 days. This pledge is the result of months of hard work, phone calls, and coordination between myself, my staff, and Dr. Shulkin. I shared with him the alarming stories from veterans in and around my District, and I fought to ensure that not only were their voices heard, but that their concerns were brought to the attention of the proper officials.  Dr. Shulkin’s commitment to sending this “Tiger Team” is the first step of what I hope will be many towards better outcomes for our veterans. The work of this VA team to improve hiring, retention, and leadership at the facility is badly overdue, and I look forward to working with them in coordination with VSOs in our community to make impactful changes.”