Press Releases

There is a  common misperception that the arrival of unaccompanied minors from Central America to the United States is an immigration problem and a failure of enforcement at our borders. It is not.  It is a humanitarian crisis. Our government has the responsibility to reflect our country’s values by treating these children in a humane way as they seek refuge from horrific levels of violence in their home countries.  For this reason, I support the supplemental appropriation request to manage this situation.

Our borders are secure as evidenced by the thousands of children that are in the government’s custody. They are being stopped by Customs and Border Patrol and that is the definition of border security. No border security measure can stop people from trying to cross the border to escape violence.  This crisis can only be stemmed by addressing the root causes of their migration and helping to improve conditions in their home countries.

These children deserve due process and the full protection that our current laws afford. I oppose simply sending these kids back without consideration of these protections, including asylum. To speed up the review of each child’s case, I support an increase in immigration judges, as well as legal representation that will help children to navigate the legal process. I will fight for these priorities to be implemented as we continue to work on humane solutions to this crisis.

Congressman Smith released the following statement on the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court of the United States striking down parts of the Voting Rights Act:

“A year ago today, the Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act that protected voting rights in nine states that historically have had discriminatory voting practices.  This decision continues to threaten the right to vote for many Americans.  Any state can now implement Voter ID laws and redraw district lines to dilute the voices of large populations of communities of color without federal oversight.  We must be doing more, not less, to protect the rights of all people and ensure we have equal access to the polls.

“I am a cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act that would require each state to allow online voter registration, in addition to providing grants and other incentives to encourage states to better promote voter registration. The bill also prevents tactics like voter caging, and looks at the ways ballots and registrations are verified. I also cosponsored the Voting Rights Amendment Act which would restore parts of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act while complying with the Supreme Court ruling.”
Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), and 43 House Democrats sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson urging him to review their detainer practices and to halt the use of immigration detainers in their current form.

“Through the [Secure Communities and Criminal Alien] Programs, DHS targets individuals encountered by local police – regardless of whether they are ever even convicted or charged with a crime – and funnels them into the deportation pipeline without an independent finding of probable cause for an arrest,” wrote the Members of Congress.  “This dragnet approach has not only fueled racial profiling, it has also targeted thousands of individuals who would be eligible to seek lawful immigration status under the immigration reform proposals currently being contemplated by Congress.”

Localities throughout the country, including Washington State and Colorado, have already limited compliance with ICE detainers due to costs, their negative impacts on the community, and concerns about constitutionality. In numerous cases, federal courts have found that current detainer practices fail to meet constitutional standards.

“Communities across the country, along with our courts, have spoken loud and clear,” the Members wrote.  “We urge the Department to undertake a full review of the detainer issuance process with the goal of reforming its practices and to discontinue the use of immigration detainers in their current form as part of the forthcoming immigration enforcement reforms.”

Read full text of letter here.
House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement in response to the President’s action in Iraq:
 
“The rapidly evolving situation in Iraq is deeply troubling. The current situation is a product of President al-Maliki’s failure to create an inclusive government and it will only end when he makes the difficult political choices necessary to unify Iraq. If he fails in this regard, the future of Iraq will be in serious question. That is why President Obama is correct in pressuring the Iraqis to think beyond military action.
 
 “That said, the United State maintains a significant national security interest in ensuring that ISIS does not take power in Iraq. We also should not get involved in another land war in the Middle East. We have spent enough in both lives and money. There are no easy options, but given the difficulties and what is at stake, the President’s strategy balances these vital interests, which is why I support the President’s plan to support the Iraqis with intelligence, training, and counterterrorism and operational support.
 
“It is important to understand that there are two separate battles taking place in Iraq: there is the political rift between the Sunnis, Shia and the Kurds and there is a foreign extremist group – ISIS – trying to take advantage of the political environment through violence. If the Iraqis can resolve their political differences, it will be far more difficult for ISIS to thrive. Moving forward, we should continue to evaluate additional steps to help combat ISIS as we see what the Iraqis are willing to do politically, but we must also firmly guard against mission creep.”
 
Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement on the announcement that President Obama will sign an executive order on LGBT discrimination:
 

“I applaud President Obama for taking action on an executive order that will prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  It is a critical step forward in protecting LGBT workers in the workplace, and a change that I urged the President to make in a letter I signed to him.  In many states, a person can legally be fired or denied a job simply because who they are, or are perceived to be, a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individual.  This is unfair and wrong.
 
“Along with the President, the Senate has also acted to protect LGBT workers by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  Yet, Speaker Boehner has refused to bring ENDA to a vote on the House floor.  I am a cosponsor of ENDA in the House and continue to urge its passage.  No one should be denied rights because of who they love, and I will continue to fight for LGBT equality.”