Press Releases

Congressman Smith Statement on Amendment to End Detention Bed Mandate

Rules Committee Rejects Amendment to End Detention Bed Mandate

October 2, 2015

Congressman Adam Smith joined Representatives Deutch, Foster, Watson Coleman, Castro and Polis in offering an amendment to remove the detention bed quota from the short-term Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2016.  

“The detention bed mandate, first passed by Congress in 2009 and included in annual appropriations legislation, requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to fill 34,000 detention beds for immigrants at any given time. Rather than targeting enforcement toward individuals who pose legitimate risks to our community, this indiscriminate quota incentivizes the inhumane and arbitrary detention of thousands for whom we have no justifiable reason to detain in these facilities.”

“Due in large part to the misguided detention bed mandate, large, for-profit prison corporations that have the resources to build and maintain detention centers are left in charge of operating these facilities at a high cost to taxpayers, detainees and families of those affected,” said Congressman Smith, who has introduced the Accountability in Immigration Detention Act to address our broken immigration policy. 

On September 30, 2015, the amendment was rejected by the House Rules Committee. Congressman Smith will continue to work with his colleagues to rectify this issue at the next available opportunity.

“Until Congress acts, we are left with a detention policy that benefits private, for-profit corporations at the expense of immigrant rights and the American taxpayer.”

 

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Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001:

“Our country was forever changed 14 years ago when terrorists attacked innocent Americans on September 11th, 2001.  The anniversary of the horrific attacks provides us with an opportunity to morn those who we lost and to reaffirm our resolve to stay on the offensive against those who wish to harm Americans. 
 
“Today, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the 2,977 Americans we lost that day.  We also must remember the heroic efforts of our police, firefighters, and medical teams that responded to this attack and risked their lives to save others. We will never forget September 11th and how in the face of evil our country united, grew stronger, and protected freedom and liberty.  As the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will remain focused on ensuring an attack like this never happens again.”

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement in support of the Administration’s deal on Iran’s nuclear program: 

The Administration, our closest allies, and the other members of the U.N. Security council worked tirelessly for two years to successfully negotiate a historic deal that will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon for at least the next 15 years.

Over the course of the last two months, I have reviewed the final agreement thoroughly and have had extensive conversations with the Administration, nonproliferation experts, our European allies, and those who are concerned with aspects of the deal. After careful and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to support this agreement because I believe it ends the otherwise unmonitored and unrestricted continuation of the Iranian nuclear program and it halts the surely destructive effects of a nuclear Iran in the Middle East. 

This deal gives the world unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear sites and intrusive monitoring of its uranium supply and centrifuge production chains to ensure its enrichment activities are extremely limited. This is access that we would not have without a deal. These verification measures are key to making sure that Iran sticks to its part of the bargain to not enrich uranium above 3.67% and to keep no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium for the next 15 years.  These levels are far below those necessary to build a nuclear weapon.  This deal substantially lengthens the time Iran would need to develop a nuclear weapon should it decide to violate the agreement.

This agreement took high-level diplomatic engagement and represents a broad international agreement. Congress' rejection of this deal would hurt the U.S.' credibility and likely fracture the international cooperation that was essential in enforcing a sanctions regime on Iran.  This would make potential negotiations with Iran in the future incredibly difficult, and increase the likelihood that Iran would be able to develop a nuclear weapon without constraints. It is hard to see how turning this deal down strengthens our position or furthers our national security interests in the region.

Iran's support to terrorist groups in the region is destabilizing and a threat to the U.S. and our allies. I too share concerns over lifting the arms embargo on Iran in 5 years should it comply with all of its obligations in the nuclear agreement, and I do not believe that Iran will suddenly become a force for good in the region. However, it is important to bear in mind that this does not affect U.S. or EU bans on weapons sales, and that the goal of these negotiations was to reach a deal that prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Iran is a malign actor, but an Iran with a nuclear deterrent would be free to pursue its bad actions without fear of military response.  We cannot allow U.S. domestic politics to make such a future more likely.

The 60-day period for Congress to review the deal is almost over. During the remaining time, I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to ensure that we have the correct mechanisms in place to monitor Iran’s compliance with the deal and to respond should Iran forfeit its compliance with this agreement.  As the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will also work with the Administration and my colleagues to address Iran’s other malign activities and enhance the security of our Israeli and Arab partners in the region.  I remain concerned about Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region and threats to the security of our allies and our servicemen and women.  But I firmly believe that those threats would be made much worse if Iran possessed nuclear weapons.  At this time, the deal negotiated between Iran and the international community is the best way to prevent Iran from getting those weapons.

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the two year anniversary of Nestora Salgado’s arrest:

“For two years, Nestora has been denied due process and justice by the Mexican government.  It is entirely unacceptable that she remains imprisoned in conditions that threaten her life.   A Mexican federal court and many civil society and human rights groups including experts from the United Nations have all called for long overdue action.  I continue to urge the United States government and the Mexican government to take immediate action to secure Nestora’s release.  I will keep doing all I can to fight for her.” 
 
Ms. Salgado is a resident of Renton, WA who was arrested for her leadership in community police group in her hometown of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero, which has a long tradition of legally-recognized community self-defense groups.  As her Member of Congress, Congressman Smith has worked with Nestora’s family and her legal representation at Seattle University to help secure her release.  He has held press conferences and sent a letter with Senator Patty Murray  to the State Department to bring attention to the case and ensure Nestora can safely return to her family.  

 

Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act:

“Having free and fair elections is essential for our democracy, and for 50 years now, the Voting Rights Act has played a critical role in protecting individuals’ right to vote regardless of race, ethnic background, or level of income.  In Congress, we must do all we can to build on the Voting Rights Act and make it easier for folks to vote rather than make it harder with Voter ID laws and other discriminatory practices.  That is why I am a cosponsor of H.R. 3364, introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen, which would allow voters to sign a written statement to affirm their identity if they do not have an ID.  I also support the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015 introduced by Rep. John Lewis which would require states to have online voter registration and make grants available to increase voter registration.  I understand the importance of promoting balance, openness, and fairness in elections and I will fight for policies that protect and improve upon the Voting Rights Act.”