Press Releases

On Heels of Barr Immigration Decision, Jayapal, Adam Smith, and Booker Re-Introduce Bill to Counter Attorney General’s Efforts

Bill would directly combat Barr’s decision to indefinitely detain immigrants

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the heels of Attorney General William Barr’s decision earlier this month to withhold bail from asylum seekers, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced their Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act today. 

The bill would directly combat Attorney General Barr’s efforts to indefinitely detain immigrants by, 1) mandating that all detained immigrants have access to a bond hearing before an immigration judge, and 2) shifting the burden to the government to prove that asylum seekers and other immigrants should be detained because they pose a risk to the community or a flight risk.

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act also targets the inhumane conditions of detention centers that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) uses to house tens of thousands of immigrants. It would end the use of private prisons and county jails to detain immigrants, set humane standards for detention facilities, increase oversight of these facilities to eliminate abuse and better protect the civil rights of immigrant detainees.

“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. The Trump administration’s decision to deny bond hearings for people seeking asylum is just another cruel step in their attacks against asylum seekers and families that will pave the way to more family separation and untenable choices,” Rep. Jayapal said. “Our Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act restores our values as a country by eliminating mandatory detention, protecting vulnerable populations including primary caregivers and asylum-seekers, eliminating the for-profit prison system and ensuring that immigrants are treated with dignity and basic human rights.”

“Our immigration system is broken and the way Donald Trump is choosing to enforce existing immigration laws is dead wrong,” Rep. Smith said. “Our legislation would put an end to the administration’s abuses of the immigration detention system and allow individuals and families to live outside of detention while they await their immigration proceedings. It would also end the abhorrent for-profit detention system that has allowed corporations to profit while immigrants are needlessly kept in detention. There is absolutely no reason for asylum seeking families to languish in detention facilities while they await the outcome of their cases. The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act recognizes the value of immigrants to our community and brings humanity to a failed immigration system.”

“The Trump Administration has adopted the motto of cruelty for cruelty’s sake and continues to close America’s doors to asylum seekers in their time of need,” Senator Booker said. “The fact that Barr wants to strip asylum seekers of their right to due process violates our Constitution and our country’s values. Our bill will hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and ensures vulnerable immigrants are treated with the dignity and respect that should be expected in this country.”

Specifically, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would:

 

  • Ensure all immigrants receive individualized and fair bond hearings by ending the use of mandatory detention of certain immigrants and requiring DHS to establish probable cause of removability within 48 hours of detention.
  • Prevent the detention of a primary caregiver (and other vulnerable populations) unless the government can show it is unreasonable or not practicable to place the caregiver in community-based supervision enabling more families to stay together
  • End the use of private prisons and county jails for immigration detention over a three-year phase-out period
  • Improve detention standards for detention facilities housing immigrants by requiring DHS to match the civil detention standards set forth by the American Bar Association’s Civil Immigration Detention Standards
  • Require the DHS Office of Inspector General to conduct unannounced inspections of all immigration detention facilities and stiffen penalties for facilities found to be in violation of DHS’ improved civil detention standards
  • Require DHS to investigate all deaths of immigrants in its custody and issue a public report within 60 days

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Adam Smith has reintroduced the House Intern Pay Act, legislation to set aside funds so that interns in each congressional office can be paid a livable wage.

“For Congressional offices to represent the diverse interests of their constituents, it is important that everyone has the opportunity to engage in the legislative process and civic service,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Paid internships help to bring a diversity of ideas and backgrounds to both the Washington, D.C. and local district offices, and expand equality of opportunity for all to participate in our democracy.”

Every year, hundreds of students and recent graduates come to Capitol Hill seeking to learn about and serve in Congress. In the past, many young people have had to begin their careers in policy and public service in unpaid internship positions. For many others, working and interning without pay is simply not possible. Unpaid internships severely limit the opportunities available to those who cannot afford to work for free.  

The House Intern Pay Act would help alleviate this problem by allowing interns in each Members’, Delegates’, and Resident Commissioner’s congressional office in the House of Representatives to receive a livable wage. Specifically, this bill permanently authorizes amounts to fund a full-time, year-round internship position in each Member’s Capitol Hill or district congressional office at a rate of $15 per hour for the first year of enactment. The rate of intern will increase in tandem with percentage increases in Consumer Price Index each year thereafter.

Section 120 of the Legislative Branch Appropriations legislation for Fiscal Year 2019 provides $20,000 per year to pay an intern in each House Member’s Washington, DC office. Translating to a wage of approximately $9.62 per hour (for a 40 hour per week intern position), it is laudable that the House of Representative has taken this important first step to ensure that congressional interns receive pay for their work.

We must now permanently authorize the intern pay allowance, ensure that interns are paid a sustainable living wage, and allow funds for intern compensation to be used to pay interns in either Members’ Washington, D.C. or district offices. Doing so will help to make congressional internships an attractive and feasible option for a more diverse pool of applicants. Congress must do its part to ensure that a person’s means is not a barrier to civic engagement and public service.

 

This legislation is cosponsored by the following Members of Congress: Don Beyer (VA-8), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Jim McGovern (MA-2), Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Ed Case (HI-1), Chuy Garcia (IL-4), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Hank Johnson (D-4), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Anthony Brown (MD-4), Gilbert Cisneros (CA-39), Terri Sewell (AL-7), David Trone (MD-6), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Mary Scanlon (PA-5), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Andy Levin (MI-9), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12).

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Congressman Smith reintroduced the Protecting Airport Communities from Particle Emissions Act, legislation to establish a national study on the sources, characteristics, dispersion, and potential health effects of ultrafine particles (UFPs).

“A comprehensive national study is vital to understanding the health effects of ultrafine particles and to what extent airport communities are exposed,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Federal leadership is needed to support future mitigation efforts with local and state partners. Combatting negative health impacts from aviation emissions is key to ensuring a better quality of life for communities surrounding airports.”

In recent years, local studies conducted around major airports have indicated that UFPs may be having detrimental effects on human health. These studies also showed that aviation contributes significantly to the dispersion of UFPs. Unfortunately, the extent to which communities and residents are exposed, in addition to the health effects of UFP inhalation, are not yet fully known. Owing in part to a lack of information about UFPs, there exists a gap in regulation where federal agencies do not differentiate between UFP’s and larger particles in the atmosphere.

More must be done to understand how UFPs affect communities around airports, to what extent aviation contributes to the creation and diffusion of UFPs, and whether or not sustainable aviation fuels could help reduce the number of these particles in the atmosphere. 

The Protecting Airport Communities From Particle Emissions Act will help to answer many of these questions. It directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a national study of UFP generation and dispersal around major hub airports, like Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state and others around the country. The study will draw from data provided by agencies like the FAA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Health and Human Services (HHS), among others. Communities have a right to know whether the air they breathe contains high levels of UFPs and how these particles affect their health.

As a Member of the Quiet Skies Caucus, Congressman Smith continues to fight in Congress to reduce the impacts from aviation around Sea-Tac International Airport while also ensuring that the airport remains a vital economic engine for the region. This study parallels research on airport traffic and air quality currently being conducted at the University of Washington and builds upon the collaborative efforts Congressman Smith has been engaged in with local communities and the Port of Seattle.

 

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about the redacted release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation report.

“I cannot underscore how disappointed I am with Attorney General William Barr’s continued unresponsiveness to congressional oversight committees, with relevant jurisdiction, regarding access to the unredacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Congress has made several requests for the unredacted report, accompanied by all the underlying and related evidence and materials produced during the investigation. The unredacted report is necessary for Congress to carry out its role of oversight. In addition, the decision to release the redacted report to Congress after Trump’s personal legal team, clearly shows where Barr stands on accountability and transparency.

“In his summary, Barr contends that Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election “did not have the cooperation of President Trump or the Trump campaign.” This stance echoes Barr’s public memo to the DOJ in June 2018, which stated that “Mueller’s obstruction theory is fatally misconceived.” Barr came to the latter conclusion before he had access to all the relevant facts, and it appears that access to the investigation did not change his predetermined conclusion. He doesn’t dispute, however, the well documented threat from the government of the Russian Federation in its use of influence operations to undermine U.S. national security interests and particularly our democratic system of government.

“A lack of a thorough analysis of all facets of Russia’s multi-pronged operation from the investigation’s supporting documents, limits Congressional ability to make relevant policy and resource decisions related to deterrence, national security policy, election security and hardening our election infrastructure, strengthening our country’s cybersecurity, improving our country’s intelligence and counterintelligence posture, and helping our allies abroad to combat similar Russian behavior in their own countries.

“The Mueller report also states that key officials associated with the Trump campaign “materially impaired” the Special Counsel’s investigation and created information gaps that could possibly shed additional light (or cast a new light) on events described in the report, if previously unavailable information was made available.

“There is no more important task than safeguarding our country’s democratic process. Congress has a duty to make informed legislative, oversight, and authorization and appropriations decisions to safeguard the country. To do that, we need unfettered access to the all the information contained in Special Counsel Mueller’s report. Our national security, and the American way of life depend on it.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Smith voted to pass H.R. 1585, a bipartisan, long-term Violence Against Women Act reauthorization:   

“I am honored to join in voting to strengthen and support lifesaving protections for women with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 not only reinstates the critical funding that expired in September 2018, it also adds additional protections for women by strengthening gun laws, expanding protections for Native American women, and providing additional resources for victims of sexual assault on college campuses. With today’s vote, Congress is prioritizing protections and resources for victims of sexual assault, domestic abuse, and stalking – responding to our country’s crisis of domestic violence with action.”