Press Releases

Smith Statement on Department of Homeland Security’s Decision to Establish Review of Privatized Immigration Detention

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson that the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) will conduct an evaluation of whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should follow the Department of Justice's recent decision to terminate its contracts with privately operated prisons:

August 30, 2016

“I am encouraged that Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has called for a review of current policies concerning the use of privately run detention centers. I believe they will find that these prisons are not the best our government can provide to ensure everyone's rights are protected. 

“At the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, I have witnessed firsthand the exploitative living conditions these detainees face and have advocated for immediate changes to our immigration detention operations. 

“The continual dysfunction within our detention system will need the leadership of Congress and a clear outcome from DHS internal review in order for concrete solutions to be instituted to protect the integrity of detainees and provide adequate oversight of our facilities. While the move to reevaluate the use of privately run facilities is indeed the correct one, this is only the first step towards rebuilding a system that is in dire need of comprehensive reform.” 

Smith Statement on Justice Department Decision to End Use of Private Prisons

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in response to the Justice Department announcement that it plans to phase out the use of private prisons:

August 18, 2016

“I applaud the Justice Department’s decision to end its use of private prisons. The recent Justice Department Inspector General findings highlights the safety and efficiency problems common in private contract facilities, and gave the Justice Department the information they needed to meaningfully reevaluate their longstanding use of private prisons. While the changes in our justice system will not take place overnight, this is a positive step forward. 

“The Department of Homeland Security should follow the Department of Justice and begin to systematically end its contracts with private detention centers. It is now more clear than ever that for-profit companies have no place in operating prison facilities, and we must move detainees with pending immigration cases that pose no risk to society out on to community-based Alternatives to Detention (ATDs). For those who pose too great a risk to release, we should have clearly established baseline standards for immigration detention centers that are owned and operated by the government. My bill, the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act, outlines acceptable standards and highlights the need for increased use of ATDs, as well as the elimination of the detention bed mandate. 

“To truly reform our broken criminal justice system and ensure we are building a more just society, it will take more than the closure of these facilities. Today marks a small victory, but one that must be followed with aggressive actions elsewhere in the government - including by Congress.” 

Congressman Smith Marks the 51st Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement commemorating the 51st anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act (VRA):

August 5, 2016

“Tomorrow, our country celebrates the 1965 signing of the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in our nation’s history. On this significant anniversary, it is important to remember that any barriers to voting are unacceptable. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of any democracy, and here in the U.S. equal access at the ballot box is critical to the future success of our country. In recent years we have seen the VRA come under attack, most notably in the case of Shelby County v. Holder when the Supreme Court invalided a crucial centerpiece of the VRA that helped to ensure that states would not discriminate against certain voters. Throughout my time in Congress, I have been a vocal advocate for voting rights, and I remain committed to doing all I can to restore and strengthen the VRA to ensure that no voter experiences discrimination.

“We need elections where the issues are what matter, and campaigns compete on the quality of their ideas. In the 114th Congress, I have supported numerous efforts to protect and expand upon voting rights at the federal level including cosponsoring Rep. Terri Sewell’s Voting Rights Advancement Act and Rep. John Lewis’s Voter Empowerment Act. As a member of the Voting Rights Caucus, I look forward to finding new ways to work with my colleagues to support our election system so that every voter is protected.” 

“I have the utmost respect for Khizr and Ghazala Khan, and to all the family members of our fallen service members. Americans of all faiths and ethnic groups have given the ultimate sacrifice to our country by losing their lives in the line of duty. As a nation, we humbly honor the service of the diverse men and women of our Armed Forces. We know that America's incredible diversity only serves to make us stronger. For anyone to denigrate a Gold Star family's service and sacrifice is reprehensible.” 

Smith Statement on Hanford Tank Farm Operations

Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement in response to the decision of Hanford Site tank farms contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to cut back on operations. This action follows a July 11, 2016 Atomic Metal Trades Council stop work order for all Hanford waste storage tank farms unless workers are supplied with air respirators to protect them from toxic vapors:

July 28, 2016

“I remain concerned about the source of the tank vapor problems at the Hanford Nuclear site, and the need to implement a permanent solution that will protect Hanford workers. This has been an on-going issue that has sickened dozens of workers and must be more decisively resolved in order to protect worker health and safety.

“As Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I remain committed to ensuring a rigorous, safe clean-up at Hanford and I will continue to fight to ensure that during this process the health of all workers is a priority.”