October 16, 2017
“We must fix the injustices in our broken immigration detention system,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “As the Trump administration continues to push a misguided and dangerous immigration agenda, we need to ensure fair treatment and due process for immigrants and refugees faced with detention. This legislation will address some of the worst failings of our immigration policy, and restore integrity and humanity to immigration proceedings.”
“The high moral cost of our inhumane immigration detention system is reprehensible. Large, private corporations operating detention centers are profiting off the suffering of men, women and children. We need an overhaul,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “It’s clear that the Trump administration is dismantling the few protections in place for detained immigrants even as he ramps up enforcement against parents and vulnerable populations. This bill addresses the most egregious problems with our immigration detention system. It’s Congress’ responsibility to step up and pass this bill.”
In addition to repealing mandatory detention, a policy that often results in arbitrary and indefinite detention, the legislation creates a meaningful inspection process at detention facilities to ensure they meet the government’s own standards. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish legally enforceable civil detention standards in line with those adopted by the American Bar Association. With disturbing track records of abuse and neglect, DHS has a responsibility to ensure that facilities are held accountable for the humane treatment of those awaiting immigration proceedings.
Individuals held in our immigration detention system are subject to civil law, but are often held in conditions identical to prisons. In many cases, detained people are simply awaiting their day in court. To correct the persistent failures of due process, the legislation requires the government to show probable cause to detain people, and implements a special rule for primary caregivers and vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and people with serious medical and mental health issues.
“The immigrant detention and prison industrial complex breaks down the mental, emotional, and psychosocial development of our communities in various ways. I saw this firsthand when my family member was detained. I believe the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act provides transformative provisions that we have been working toward, to move the immigrant rights movement forward,” said Yvette Maganya, a OneAmerica youth leader and the niece of a survivor of the Northwest Detention Center. “I’ve seen the toll detention conditions have in our community. Our communities are being jailed in inhumane conditions with no accountability. Often they are jailed not because of what they did, but to fulfill cruel, arbitrary quotas. It is wrong to jail immigrants indefinitely with no accountability or oversight. This is why we need the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act.”
“We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Smith and Jayapal in ensuring that the rights and dignity of all peoples are respected. NWIRP supports the ‘Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act of 2017’ that they have introduced and see it as a critical step toward making our immigration detention system more humane and more consistent with fundamental American values,” said Jorge L. Barón of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
“The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is a crucial piece of legislation that introduces a wave of accountability that we desperately need. This officially puts the Federal government on notice that we will no longer tolerate the rampant disregard for human life,” said Victoria Mena of Colectiva Legal del Pueblo.
“Today, we’re facing an extremist expansion of our immigration detention system, which makes the Dignity for Detained Immigrants bill even more imperative. We have continually seen the ways in which conditions in the detention center and the traumatic experience of being detained deters people from fighting their cases. We stand in strong support of this important piece of legislation that sets a new, humane vision to reform our flawed immigration detention system,” said Roxana Norouzi of immigrant rights organization OneAmerica.
The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is cosponsored by 60 members of Congress: John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), John Lewis (GA-5), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-4), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby Rush (IL-1), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), James P. McGovern (MA-2), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-4), André Carson (IN-7), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Judy Chu (CA-27), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Bill Foster (IL-11), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Mark Takano (CA-41), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Katherine Clark (MA-5), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-4), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Dwight Evans (PA-2), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34).
The legislation is also supported by 52 civil society organizations: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Capital Area Immigrants' Rights Coalition, Center for Community Change, The Center for Victims of Torture, Church Council of Greater Seattle, Church World Service, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, Columbia Legal Services, Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Democracy for America, Detention Watch Network, Entre Hermanos, FIRM, Grassroots Leadership, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Indivisible Vashon, Just Detention International, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Make the Road CT, Make the Road New York, Make the Road NJ, MoveOn.org Civic Action, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, OneAmerica, Our Revolution, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), Southern Poverty Law Center, Tacoma Migrant Justice, Tahirih Justice Center, United We Dream, Wallingford Indivisible, Washington Community Action Network, Washington Defender Association, The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, Women’s Refugee Commission, 21 Progress, Asian Counseling and Referral Service.
Six Dem Ranking Members to GOP Leaders: Allow Our Committees to Consider Border Wall Bill, Don’t Jam it Through the House
October 13, 2017
Washington, D.C. – The ranking members of six House committees sent a letter to their Republican counterparts and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging them to allow H.R. 3548 – the Republican bill authorizing the costly, destructive expansion of the border wall – to be considered for amendment in each of their respective committees before the bill goes to the full House for consideration. Moving the bill through each committee with jurisdiction, the authors note, would be the only way to pass the bill “through regular order.”
The letter, available at (http://bit.ly/2xBvzVQ), is signed by Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) of the Committee on Armed Services; Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) of the Committee on Natural Resources; Peter DeFazio (D-OR) of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; Richard Neal (D-MA) of the Committee on Ways and Means; Elijah Cummings (D-MD) of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and Eliot Engel (D-NY) of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The authors write in part:
As Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson aptly stated, H.R. 3548 is “a misguided, unnecessary, fiscally-irresponsible measure to formally authorize President Trump’s Wall at all costs.” Accordingly, we respectfully request that each Committee mark up this legislation and be given an opportunity to thoroughly examine and discuss provisions within our purview.
The non-partisan Office of the House Parliamentarian has ruled that the border wall legislation includes provisions relevant to each of the committees’ jurisdictions.
Washington, DC — Today, Representatives Adam Smith (WA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Charlie Dent (PA-15), Susan Davis (CA-53), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) announced the introduction of H.R. 4041, a bipartisan bill to protect transgender members of the U.S. military by preventing the Department of Defense (DoD) from removing currently serving members of the Armed Forces based solely on their gender identity. Transgender troops have been openly serving in the military since June 2016. This legislation is the House companion bill to S. 1820, introduced last month by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, John McCain, Jack Reed, and Susan Collins.
October 13, 2017
“I cannot begin to stress how utterly immoral it would be for brave men and women who are currently serving in the U.S. military to be kicked out, and lose their careers, purely because of discrimination,” said Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This bipartisan legislation would prevent that kind of mindless discriminatory purge, and it is an important step toward reversing President Trump’s ban on transgender military service. We will continue to fight so that all individuals who are willing and able can volunteer in defense of their country.”
“Kicking out members of the United States Armed Services solely based on their gender identity is hateful, discriminatory, and on the wrong side of history,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier. “News flash, Mr. President—thousands of transgender troops already serve our country with pride and dignity. Our military should be focused on recruiting and retaining the best troops, not on rejecting qualified service members on the basis of discrimination.”
“I stood proudly with the previous administration when we lifted the ban on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “Many of the arguments against transgender servicemembers are the same we have heard for gay servicemembers, and the same we heard for women before that. Transgender servicemembers have and are serving with honor, distinction, and courage. No evidence has been presented to warrant a ban, which is based solely on discrimination. Our servicemembers should be focused on the singular objective of protecting Americans. This ban will only serve as a disruptive distraction of that effort.”
“Congress' intention with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell was to allow our brave servicemembers to openly serve in our armed forces without fear of being discriminated against,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “The decision by the Administration to not allow transgender individuals to serve in the military is a sad reminder of the dark chapters in our nation's history that should never be repeated. The courts have usually been forced to adjudicate what constitutes discrimination but once again Congress is saying: no more. Any patriot, as long as they are qualified to serve, should have the ability to, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. These individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, a freedom that they should also be able to enjoy.’
“Any American willing to risk his or her life to protect and serve our country deserves our gratitude and support,” said Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema. “I’m proud to work with this bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers, including Arizona’s Senator John McCain, in standing with our military.”
- Specifically, the legislation would:Express a sense of Congress that individuals who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be eligible to serve;
- Prohibit DoD from involuntarily separating, or denying the reenlistment or continuation in service in the Armed Forces of currently serving transgender service members solely on the basis of the servicemember’s gender identity; and
- Require Secretary Mattis to complete his review of accession of transgender individuals into the Armed Forces by the end of this year and report the results to Congress.
Washington, DC – Today, House Armed Services Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran nuclear agreement:
October 13, 2017
“The President of the United States has a responsibility to exercise leadership when it comes to crucial national security issues such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. He should let the facts inform him and bear the burden of making the right decisions to safeguard our country’s interests. Instead, President Trump is abdicating his responsibility and kicking the question to Congress, in what appears to be a cravenly political attempt to have it both ways. That is as juvenile as it is dangerous.
“Congress must now act responsibly on this issue. Reneging on our obligations under the JCPOA by snapping back sanctions would seriously harm the national security interest of the United States. It could result in war or a nuclear-armed Iran. It would leave the United States isolated from our allies and partners who continue to support the JCPOA. It would undermine our global diplomatic efforts by sending a signal that the United States does not keep its commitments. And it would further destabilize the Middle East. We cannot afford to trigger any of those outcomes, especially at a time when we are confronting so many other grave national security crises.
“As the President’s decision not to decertify based on noncompliance implicitly admits, the Iranian government has not failed to deliver on its obligations under the JCPOA, whose terms are limited to the development of nuclear weapons. We have other methods of countering Iran’s malign activities—such as missile launches and terrorist activity—that fall outside the scope of the agreement. We should apply them vigorously to contain and counter Iranian actions that threaten our national security. But we should not take actions that violate our commitments under the JCPOA when adhering to its terms is the best option available, and when the alternatives would invite disaster.”