Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Reps. Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal, Yvette D. Clarke, and Adam Smith led 50 members in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf requesting that the Trump Administration allow Somali-American families with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to remain safely in the United States.

On March 17th, TPS for approximately 500 Somalis will be due to expire. Although Somalia has made progress in the last decade, conditions in the country are still much too dangerous for people to be forced to return. If TPS is allowed to expire, it will be potentially life-threatening for the people sent back to Somalia.

“The security situation in Somalia remains extremely fraught, with Al-Shabaab continuing to hold large swaths of territory and carrying out attacks against civilians in Mogadishu and other population centers,” the Members wrote. “Many TPS holders have escaped Al-Shabaab and would return to Somalia with targets on their backs. Forcibly returning them is tantamount to a death sentence. In fact, several Somali deportees have been murdered by Al-Shabaab. Somalis belonging to marginalized communities, such as ethnic minorities, women, and girls are at even more risk.”

“It is critical that the Trump Administration re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Somalia before it expires in March,” Rep. Smith said. “Letting TPS expire for Somalia could be potentially life-threatening for TPS holders. Many of these individuals have lived in the U.S. for decades – raising their children here and contributing to our communities in countless ways. It’s time for the Trump Administration to give Somali TPS holders the certainty and stability they deserve.”

“Somali TPS holders – some of whom have lived in the United States for almost three decades – face the agonizing uncertainty of their futures, and the futures of their U.S. citizen children,” Rep. Omar said. “Many Somali TPS holders would be targets if they were forced to return. Holding people in suspense about what could be a matter of life and death is unconscionably cruel. Their extension should be completed as soon as possible.”

“Republican and Democratic administrations have repeatedly granted Temporary Protected Status to Somalia, and the country is still suffering from terrorism, poverty and environmental disaster,” said Rep. Jayapal. “Any departure from this policy would be cruel, inhumane and unjustified. In my own district and throughout America, Somali families are treasured members of our communities, and we should not be tearing them apart and sending them into unsafe conditions. The Trump administration must extend Temporary Protected Status for Somalia without delay.”

“Throughout our history, our great nation has served as a place of refuge and solace for immigrants and it is unsettling that our Somali neighbors and friends could face family separation or a return to unstable or potentially dangerous living situations,” Rep. Clarke said. “This Administration’s attempt to hold the extension of temporary protected status above the heads of Somalis whose livelihoods depend on it is cruel and wrong. We must put politics aside and make decisions that uplift and protect the American people, which includes Somali-American children and their parents whose contributions have made our communities better and stronger and we must protect our immigrant friends and neighbors by extending Somali TPS as soon as we can.”

The full letter is available below:

Dear Acting Secretary Wolf and Secretary Pompeo:

We write to urge you to re-designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Somalia. While Somalia has seen tremendous progress in the last decade, it is still recovering from almost 30 years of civil conflict. Returning Somali TPS holders to Somalia would put their lives at risk.

The security situation in Somalia remains extremely fraught, with Al-Shabaab continuing to hold large swaths of territory and carrying out attacks against civilians in Mogadishu and other population centers.

Many TPS holders have escaped Al-Shabaab and would return to Somalia with targets on their backs. Forcibly returning them is tantamount to a death sentence. In fact, several Somali deportees have been murdered by Al-Shabaab. Somalis belonging to marginalized communities, such as ethnic minorities, women, and girls are at even more risk.

In addition to the violence in Somalia, there is a pressing humanitarian crisis impacting millions of Somalis. Massive flooding is causing displacement, loss of agriculture and livestock, and lack of clean water. Of the 4.2 million Somalis in need of aid in 2019, 1.5 million face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity. Roughly 2.6 million are internally displaced. Some 320,000 people were displaced by conflict in 2018—the highest level of conflict-related displacement in four years. By UN estimates, 3 million children are not in school, and one in seven children dies before their fifth birthday.

Many TPS holders are not only supporting their American-born families but also their families in Somalia. Somalis in the United States send $215 million in remittances each year to Somalia to support their families’ basic needs. Somali TPS holders are often their families’ only lifeline. If they were to be deported, the effects would be devastating not only on their own communities here in the United States, but on Somalia as well.

Terminating TPS for Somalia would also have devastating consequences for the American-born children of Somali TPS holders. Parents would be forced to decide either to leave their kids behind or take them back to Somalia to face terrible conditions.

We acknowledge and commend the Somali Central Government for its continuous efforts to improve the economic, political, and security situation in Somalia. It is clear, however, that the conditions are not favorable to the return of TPS holders. In some cases, the removal of Somali TPS-holders would be life-threatening. For this reason, we urge you to re-designate Temporary Protected Status for Somalia.

We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Ilhan Omar
Member of Congress

Pramila Jayapal
Member of Congress 

Yvette D. Clarke
Member of Congress 

Adam Smith
Member of Congress 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement after upon House passage of H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, to protect families from PFAS “forever chemicals” and designate them as hazardous substances.

“I am proud to support legislation passed in the House today to address dangerous PFAS chemicals that threaten public health and the environment. Communities throughout the state of Washington and across the country are facing the consequences and challenges posed by PFAS from the air we breathe to the water we drink. The bill passed today would ensure regulation of PFAS chemicals, spur much needed cleanup of contamination, and provide critical resources for communities.

“In the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year, I was successful in working with my Democratic colleagues to include the most significant legislative action on PFAS ever signed into law. House Democrats are now fulfilling our promise to build on that success and fight for full, robust protections against these dangerous forever chemicals. While federal agencies have been slow to act, we will continue to work to hold polluters accountable and protect vulnerable populations.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement on the House passage of a War Powers Resolution to limit the President’s military action regarding Iran:

“Today’s passage of the War Powers Resolution was an important step by Congress to reassert our Constitutional authority over war. For too long, Congress has been effectively sidelined when it comes to committing U.S. Armed Forces to military action. That must change. This Resolution also sends a strong message to the Administration that Congress and the American people do not want war with Iran. It is critical for the Trump Administration to prioritize diplomacy. It is not in our national interest to be at war with Iran, and I will continue to urge the President and his team to do everything they can to show restraint and prevent further escalation.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement in response to the recent United States kinetic action in Iraq.

“I have grave concerns about the chain of events leading to the direct action that resulted in the death of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force. I remain troubled about the impact this action will have on the safety and security of United States’ personnel and assets in the region. Rather than calming the strained tensions in the region, this action will only accelerate the cycle of violent escalation.

“I do not want an open war with Iran, and neither do the American people. However, the absence of a coherent strategy has strained an already tense relationship between Washington and Tehran. It appears that in lieu of a strategy, the Trump Administration has chosen military escalation.

“The Administration must clearly articulate how this action, and potential future actions, will protect U.S. global interests while ensuring the safety and security of our personnel in the region and worldwide. The American people deserve to know why President Trump has brought us to the brink of another war, and under what authority.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement today regarding House passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“The USMCA I voted to support today is the product of a year of work by Congressional Democrats to put forward something to build on as we work to shift our trade agreements to prioritize workers and the environment.

“Democrats made positive steps, especially in regard to labor standards and enforcement, that can help us move towards a trading system that puts workers, labor rights, and fair economic policies first.

“I have long been critical of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) program, which gives companies a private right of action to sue countries to settle business disputes but no such avenue for labor or environmental disputes. This agreement nearly eliminates ISDS, putting us on a path to prevent its inclusion in future trade agreements. In addition to strengthening labor standards, the USMCA also includes, for the first time, an enforcement mechanism specifically for labor and establishes an independent review body to ensure Mexico is implementing labor reforms and complying with obligations.

“Let me be clear, however, that USMCA is far from perfect. This agreement leaves a lot to be done on environmental and climate-related provisions. President Trump and Senate Republicans continue to ignore the threat of climate change against the urging of Congressional Democrats and the American people. A future Administration must prioritize strong climate change provisions in trade agreements that reflect the urgency of this worldwide crisis. It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration ignores the overwhelming evidence of climate change and refuses to take the necessary actions for the environment.

“As a lifelong resident of Washington State, I have seen firsthand the importance of trade for workers and the economy. I have also seen the impacts of job outsourcing and wage stagnation on middle class families. Trade agreements cannot be looked at in isolation. Fixing trade agreements alone will not address the income inequality and vanishing middle class that plagues workers and our economy. President Trump’s tax cuts have incentivized outsourcing and benefited corporations and the wealthy at the expense of workers and their families.

“We need to restructure our tax code, trade agreements, and public policies to reverse this growing problem, and I believe the USMCA is a step in the right direction.”

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