Press Releases

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) spoke with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Earl Anthony Wayne, about Nestora Salgado’s case.  Ms. Salgado is a resident of Renton, WA who was arrested for her leadership in a community police group  in her home of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero, which has a long tradition of legally-recognized community self-defense groups.
 
“Nestora was unjustly arrested for exercising the rights guaranteed to her indigenous community by the Mexican constitution,” said Congressman Adam Smith.  “Not only have the federal courts acknowledged this, but a federal judge issued an order for her immediate release from the maximum security prison she is in since she is no longer being charged for federal crimes.  Despite this ruling, she remains detained in unacceptable conditions and has not been granted due process.  The United States must do more to pressure the Guerrero state courts to schedule a trial immediately or release her per the federal courts’ decision.”
 
On April 18th, Congressman Smith sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging him to ensure that Nestora is afforded due process and bringing attention to her deplorable prison conditions. He also joined Nestora’s family and legal representation at Seattle University in a press conference to bring attention to her case and advocate for her release.  
Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement in opposition to the House Republican supplemental appropriation to address the humanitarian crisis at the border:
 
“Other than showing their absolute inability to lead the House of Representatives, Republicans also made clear that they have one priority:  to deport migrant children as quickly as possible.  This is clearly reflected by their attempts to strip Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and their supplemental appropriations bill, which prioritizes speedy removals above due process and the rights and safety of these children.  This is entirely wrong and unacceptable, and it’s why I strongly opposed this legislation.
 
“At a fundamental level, we must understand the humanitarian challenge our nation is currently faced with.  Thousands of young children have left their families, homes, and everything they know due to unimaginable violence and fear.  Sending these children back to some of the most dangerous countries in the world will not solve the problem and clearly highlights Republicans’ misguided thinking on this issue.

“As a nation of immigrants and refugees, and one that has always valued justice and fairness, we must give these children due process, access to legal representation, and treat them in the most humane and caring way possible.  And as a world leader in refugee resettlement, the United States can absolutely offer this, we just need to provide our agencies with the necessary resources to meet this challenge. I support the President's request because it provides adequate funding to do so."
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after House Republicans released their Supplemental Appropriations bill for unaccompanied minors:
 
“The House Republican’s proposed response to the humanitarian situation is an unacceptable path forward.    Their legislation prohibits unaccompanied minors from being placed with sponsors, is woefully underfunded, and strips the 2008 law that protects minors fleeing violence abroad.

“Currently over 30,000 unaccompanied minors have been placed with a parent in the U.S. or with a sponsor, while they wait for adjudication of their case.   This is the right approach. Not only does it alleviate the amount of resources that HHS needs, but it is also in the best interest of the children.  Yet, this legislation would prohibit unaccompanied minors from being placed with sponsors.

“The Republican proposal’s funding is unacceptably low and focuses on the wrong priorities.  For example, the bill provides more funding to send the National Guard to the border than for immigration judges and resources that help speed up immigration proceedings for unaccompanied minors.    The arrival of these children is not a failure in border enforcement, but rather the result of unimaginable violence in their home countries.

“The legislation also weakens critical protections in the 2008 law and puts children in a vulnerable position without the necessary legal guidance to assist them through a complex, intimidating legal process.  We are a world leader in refugee resettlement and have the necessary institutions and legal framework to provide due process for these children.  This situation is evidence of why we need this law, not why we should strip it.  

“We need to pass a supplemental appropriations bill that truly protects children and their rights to due process, and I will continue to urge for the advancement of legislation that does so."
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after House Republicans unveiled their framework for addressing the humanitarian situation at the border:
 
“The House Republican’s plan to address this humanitarian situation shows a misunderstanding of the circumstances, and fails to tackle the root of the problem.
 
“First, the arrival of unaccompanied minors is not a failure in border enforcement.  Not only are the thousands of children in the government’s custody evidence of that, but we have also met nearly every border security target that President Bush’s 2007 immigration bill set.  The humanitarian situation at the border is the result of children fleeing horrific levels of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, which has the highest murder rate in the world.  To truly address this crisis, we must look at the root causes and find ways to help improve conditions in these countries.
 
“Second, it is the wrong approach to address this humanitarian situation by weakening the 2008 law. This legislation, that passed with bipartisan support and was signed by President Bush, is in place to protect minors who are fleeing human trafficking, violence, and abuse.  Now we have over 57,000 unaccompanied children within our borders, yet the Republican response is to weaken this law.  We are a world leader in refugee resettlement and we have the institutions and the legal framework in place to give these children due process. This humanitarian situation shows why our country needs the 2008 law, not why we should weaken it.  
 
“As Congress considers the President’s request for funding, we should be focused on doing what we can to protect these children and to improve conditions in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.  The fact that unaccompanied minors are leaving their families and everything they know to make an extremely dangerous journey away from their homes shows how unlivable conditions are at home.  I oppose simply deporting  them without considering the protections our laws provide.   These children deserve due process, and I support increased funding for immigration judges and legal representation to help the unaccompanied children make their case in court.”
 

Congressman Smith released the following statement regarding unaccompanied minors and the humanitarian crisis at the border:
 
"In 2008, with bipartisan support, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed a bill to protect minors who arrived in our country after fleeing human trafficking or other kinds of abuse or violence.  More than anything else the recent increase in minors coming across our border makes it clear why this law is so important.  Our country should do what we can to protect minors fleeing violence in other parts of the world, and the tragic situations in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have forced many children to flee those nations in search of safety.  It is important to note that these children are not just coming to the United States.  Costa Rica and Belize, among other countries, have seen massive increases in children migrating into their countries as well.

"It is the exact wrong approach to say that we should respond to this humanitarian crisis by weakening that 2008 law.  We should pass the President's supplemental funding request to help deal with the arrival of children coming into our country to get away from violent and dangerous situations, not gut the law that was set up to protect these children in the first place.  

"The supplemental money is badly needed to help process the children who have come across our border.  Certainly not all will qualify for asylum or refugee status under the 2008 law or other immigration laws on the book, but they should all have fair representation to make their cases in court in an expeditious manner.

"Finally, we should prioritize their placement with family members or sponsors. For families with children, we should seek alternatives to detention while they are awaiting their status determination.  Many have family or friends they can stay with and others can benefit from numerous organizations that have experience in assisting immigrant families.  Not only is this more humane than locking them up in detention centers, but it is also far less costly to our government.

"The increase in children coming into our country as they flee violence in their own is undeniably a challenge for the United States.  But as a nation of immigrants and refugees, and one that has always placed a high a value on justice and fairness for all, we must attempt to meet that challenge in the most humane and caring way possible."