Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) today joined U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) in introducing the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act. The legislation would convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, which includes terminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year of enactment.

“We need to change the way we do immigration enforcement. Our current system is inhumane; it is separating children from their parents, deporting and detaining too many people, and ripping families apart. None of this is making us any safer. Unfortunately, Speaker Ryan is trying to demagogue the issue. This bill isn’t about stopping immigration enforcement or open borders. It is about shining a light on the injustices of our current system, and changing the way that we conduct immigration enforcement.”

“Across my district and throughout our country, ICE is ripping families apart. They are raiding workplaces, invading homes, showing up at courthouses, schools, and hospitals, detaining individuals indefinitely, and instilling fear throughout our communities. We must put a stop to this. President Trump has weaponized this agency to accomplish his racist and harmful agenda. To bring an end to these rampant human rights violations, we must terminate ICE and convene a commission of experts to make recommendations to Congress on the redistribution of ICE’s essential enforcement functions to other government agencies. ICE has strayed far from its original purpose and has failed to enforce immigration laws and protect national security in a humane and just way. I am proud to join several of my colleagues in cosponsoring this necessary legislation, and I will continue to fight to protect the dignity of all individuals.”  

Background:

Congress created ICE in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks with the primary mission of preventing “acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities.” However, since then, ICE has become synonymous with immigration raids, home invasions, family separation, abusive detention practices, and chronic noncompliance with the law.

Recently, ICE agents themselves recognized the irreparable damage being done by President Trump’s actions when nineteen ICE agents wrote to Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, stating that investigations, “have been perceived as targeting undocumented aliens, instead of the transnational criminal organizations that facilitate cross border crimes impacting our communities and national security.” The authors of the letter agree that the agency is now failing to perform its core mission and that the best path forward would be to end it and start fresh.

Ending ICE and developing a more humane immigration system that complies with constitutional protections, domestic law, and binding international treaties, while treating every person with respect and dignity is a strong step forward.

The Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act would:

  1. Convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals. This will include transferring issues like organized crime, drug smuggling, and human trafficking to other government agencies that are well-equipped to handle them and have proven track records of transparency, accountability and compliance with the law;
  2. Prior to the termination of the agency, direct Congress to act on the recommendations authored by the commission, including the transfer of necessary functions to relevant agencies and the implementation of the new immigration enforcement regime; and
  3. Terminate the agency within one year of enactment.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), José E. Serrano (NY-15), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).

The bill text of the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.

A fact sheet on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.

A section-by-section breakdown on the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement System Act is available here.

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), and 42 other Democrats from the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees released the following statement on President Trump’s attendance at the NATO Summit and his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The members of the Armed Services Committee who released the statement are Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Rep. Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton, (D-MA), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), and Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). The members of the Foreign Affairs Committee who released the statement are Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. William R. Keating (D-MA), Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Rep. Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Rep. Bradley S. Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), and Rep. Ted W. Lieu (D-CA):

“President Trump must not seek to undo the work that generations of American men and women have done to help defend and uphold democratic values throughout the transatlantic region. Europe returned from the devastation of the Second World War to prosperity largely due to the North Atlantic community’s commitments to its shared values and to collective defense. 

“The signals regarding potential outcomes that are coming from this administration in advance of the President’s upcoming trip to Europe are deeply concerning. Without question, in his upcoming meetings with NATO and President Putin, President Trump must continue to affirm America’s commitments to our allies, especially Article V of the Atlantic Treaty. He must not praise, condone, or abet any Russian efforts to undermine the sovereignty or democracy of any of our allies and partners. He must take a genuine stand against Russia’s cyber campaigns and its efforts to interfere in our elections.

“President Trump must recognize the importance that our forward military presence and joint exercises play in deterring Russia and ensuring military readiness. He must not weaken this posture or suspend or cancel these crucial activities, nor emulate Russian propaganda attempting to discredit them.

“He must stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and against the illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory and maintain sanctions until the conditions in the law are met. He must follow the law passed every year through the National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting military-to-military cooperation with President Putin. And he must continue to stand by NATO’s open door policy on the admittance of new members. The substance and symbolism of these upcoming meetings will matter. The future of the Atlantic alliance and the international order, which has helped make the world safer and more prosperous is at stake.”

“The so-called ‘compromise’ immigration bill that failed to pass the House of Representatives this week was not a compromise at all – not a single Democrat was consulted in the drafting of the bill. This bill had no significant differences from the Goodlatte bill, which also failed to pass last week. Neither piece of legislation presented any real solutions to fixing our broken immigration system, providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers, or reuniting children with their parents after being unjustly separated at the border. 

“This administration and Republicans in Congress want you to believe that we only have two choices when it comes to immigration enforcement: we either must separate families and incarcerate immigrants, much like we did to Japanese Americans during World War II, or else we will have ‘open borders’ and rampant crime.

“To say that we are limited to only those options, and to refuse to bring up the multitude of legislative proposals that have bipartisan support, is deeply disingenuous. We have clear alternatives. We can process the asylum requests and use alternatives to detention for individuals and families awaiting their immigration proceedings, like the successful Family Case Management Program the President chose to abruptly end, despite its proven success. We can reunite families, give Dreamers a path to citizenship, and work together toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“The President has decided that we must be hostile to immigrants and Congressional Republicans have chosen to align themselves with his fear-mongering, xenophobic agenda. He is trying to use this as a wedge issue to misinform and terrify people, and we cannot allow him to do so.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case:

“Today’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court ruling is an attack on public sector workers and their right to organize and collectively bargain for better working conditions.  The Court’s decision undermines unions’ ability to work on behalf of and be supported by those workers who benefit from collective representation.

“The ability to organize and collectively bargain for benefits is one of the most important advances in American labor law and has been a major factor in the creation of a robust middle class in our country. As the son of a union worker at SeaTac airport, I understand how important labor unions are in the lives of American workers and their families, and I strongly support workers' rights. I learned firsthand from my father, that the right to organize and bargain for better working conditions is extremely important. Labor unions contributed to the creation of America’s middle class, and today are one of the most important means by which working people can push back against economic forces that are increasingly rigged against the working class. At a time when the disparity of wealth is highest in our nation's recent history, labor unions should be able to advocate for expanding equality of opportunity and to support the fight for justice for all.

“I stand with unions and their continued efforts to improve the lives of hardworking Americans across the country.”

Washington, DC – This evening, Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) spoke on the House floor in support of their legislation, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act (H.R. 1791). Shortly after, the House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.

“In my home state of Washington, we know well how spectacular the Mountains to Sound Greenway is and why this area is so deserving of this National Heritage Area designation,” said Rep. Reichert. “Today’s vote confirms this area is special to people from all across the country and globe who come to Washington State eager to experience its lush forests and rugged mountains. After years of working on this designation with my colleague, Representative Smith, I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly pass the House. Now, I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation, so that the Mountains to Sound Greenway receives the full recognition it deserves.”

“The passage of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, the first such designation in the Pacific Northwest, reflects the sustainable relationship between Washington state residents and nature in the Puget Sound Region,” Rep. Smith said. “The Mountains to Sound Greenway will help preserve and promote the area’s scenery, resources and history for future generations. I thank Congressman Reichert for his stalwart leadership, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for their tireless advocacy, and the engaged community members that made it possible for us to join together in preserving this natural treasure.”

This legislation was first introduced by Representatives Reichert and Smith in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1785, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act. In November of 2014, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill, but the full House never considered it. After receiving feedback over the past four years, Reps. Reichert and Smith reintroduced an improved and strengthened bill in March of 2017. This new bill (H.R. 1791) includes important protections for individual rights, private property owners, and tribal communities. It has the support of over 6,000 individuals and groups from government agencies and officials, businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservation and heritage organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Outdoor Alliance. In June, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill.

"The Greenway is a model for working cooperatively to conserve the environment while supporting a strong economy,” said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “We’re ecstatic that Congressman Reichert and Congressman Smith have succeeded in ushering this bipartisan bill to passage in the House. With Senators Cantwell and Murray as champions in the Senate, our region will soon reap the benefits of this innovative designation."

Background

National Heritage Areas are congressionally designated partnerships between the National Park Service, states, and local communities through which the Park Service supports local and state efforts to preserve natural resources and promote tourism. National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System. No federal regulations are imposed, and no private land is affected or acquired. Rep. Reichert’s legislation does not force private property owners to participate in any activity or provide public access on their land; it does not affect land use planning; and it does not alter, modify or extinguish treaty rights, water rights, or limit the authority of the state to manage fish and wildlife, including hunting and fishing regulations.

Heritage Area designations are eligible for federal grants and this designation can help draw financial contributions from state, local, and private sources. On average, each Heritage Area generates about $263 million in economic activity and supports about 3,000 jobs, primarily through tourism and visitor spending.