Press Releases

“The so-called ‘compromise’ immigration bill that failed to pass the House of Representatives this week was not a compromise at all – not a single Democrat was consulted in the drafting of the bill. This bill had no significant differences from the Goodlatte bill, which also failed to pass last week. Neither piece of legislation presented any real solutions to fixing our broken immigration system, providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers, or reuniting children with their parents after being unjustly separated at the border. 

“This administration and Republicans in Congress want you to believe that we only have two choices when it comes to immigration enforcement: we either must separate families and incarcerate immigrants, much like we did to Japanese Americans during World War II, or else we will have ‘open borders’ and rampant crime.

“To say that we are limited to only those options, and to refuse to bring up the multitude of legislative proposals that have bipartisan support, is deeply disingenuous. We have clear alternatives. We can process the asylum requests and use alternatives to detention for individuals and families awaiting their immigration proceedings, like the successful Family Case Management Program the President chose to abruptly end, despite its proven success. We can reunite families, give Dreamers a path to citizenship, and work together toward comprehensive immigration reform.

“The President has decided that we must be hostile to immigrants and Congressional Republicans have chosen to align themselves with his fear-mongering, xenophobic agenda. He is trying to use this as a wedge issue to misinform and terrify people, and we cannot allow him to do so.”

 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v. AFSCME case:

“Today’s Janus v. AFSCME Supreme Court ruling is an attack on public sector workers and their right to organize and collectively bargain for better working conditions.  The Court’s decision undermines unions’ ability to work on behalf of and be supported by those workers who benefit from collective representation.

“The ability to organize and collectively bargain for benefits is one of the most important advances in American labor law and has been a major factor in the creation of a robust middle class in our country. As the son of a union worker at SeaTac airport, I understand how important labor unions are in the lives of American workers and their families, and I strongly support workers' rights. I learned firsthand from my father, that the right to organize and bargain for better working conditions is extremely important. Labor unions contributed to the creation of America’s middle class, and today are one of the most important means by which working people can push back against economic forces that are increasingly rigged against the working class. At a time when the disparity of wealth is highest in our nation's recent history, labor unions should be able to advocate for expanding equality of opportunity and to support the fight for justice for all.

“I stand with unions and their continued efforts to improve the lives of hardworking Americans across the country.”

Washington, DC – This evening, Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) spoke on the House floor in support of their legislation, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act (H.R. 1791). Shortly after, the House of Representatives passed the bill unanimously.

“In my home state of Washington, we know well how spectacular the Mountains to Sound Greenway is and why this area is so deserving of this National Heritage Area designation,” said Rep. Reichert. “Today’s vote confirms this area is special to people from all across the country and globe who come to Washington State eager to experience its lush forests and rugged mountains. After years of working on this designation with my colleague, Representative Smith, I am proud to see this bipartisan legislation overwhelmingly pass the House. Now, I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation, so that the Mountains to Sound Greenway receives the full recognition it deserves.”

“The passage of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, the first such designation in the Pacific Northwest, reflects the sustainable relationship between Washington state residents and nature in the Puget Sound Region,” Rep. Smith said. “The Mountains to Sound Greenway will help preserve and promote the area’s scenery, resources and history for future generations. I thank Congressman Reichert for his stalwart leadership, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for their tireless advocacy, and the engaged community members that made it possible for us to join together in preserving this natural treasure.”

This legislation was first introduced by Representatives Reichert and Smith in the 113th Congress as H.R. 1785, the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area Act. In November of 2014, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill, but the full House never considered it. After receiving feedback over the past four years, Reps. Reichert and Smith reintroduced an improved and strengthened bill in March of 2017. This new bill (H.R. 1791) includes important protections for individual rights, private property owners, and tribal communities. It has the support of over 6,000 individuals and groups from government agencies and officials, businesses, outdoor recreation groups, and conservation and heritage organizations, including the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Outdoor Alliance. In June, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill.

"The Greenway is a model for working cooperatively to conserve the environment while supporting a strong economy,” said Jon Hoekstra, Executive Director of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. “We’re ecstatic that Congressman Reichert and Congressman Smith have succeeded in ushering this bipartisan bill to passage in the House. With Senators Cantwell and Murray as champions in the Senate, our region will soon reap the benefits of this innovative designation."

Background

National Heritage Areas are congressionally designated partnerships between the National Park Service, states, and local communities through which the Park Service supports local and state efforts to preserve natural resources and promote tourism. National Heritage Areas are not part of the National Park System. No federal regulations are imposed, and no private land is affected or acquired. Rep. Reichert’s legislation does not force private property owners to participate in any activity or provide public access on their land; it does not affect land use planning; and it does not alter, modify or extinguish treaty rights, water rights, or limit the authority of the state to manage fish and wildlife, including hunting and fishing regulations.

Heritage Area designations are eligible for federal grants and this designation can help draw financial contributions from state, local, and private sources. On average, each Heritage Area generates about $263 million in economic activity and supports about 3,000 jobs, primarily through tourism and visitor spending.

 

Booker, Senators Introduce Bill Targeting Family Detention, Inhumane Conditions of Immigration Detention Centers, Flawed Detention Processing System

Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would make a number of much-needed reforms to immigration detention system

June 21, 2018

e process. Family separation cannot be replaced by family incarceration,” Senator Blumenthal said. “Indefinitely imprisoning children, families, and pregnant women is inhumane and intolerable in a democratic society. History will judge us harshly if we permit these inhumane and immoral policies to be carried out without our opposition.”

“It is unacceptable that not only has the Trump administration spent weeks ripping children away from their parents, but they have also forced children and families into inhumane and shameful detention camps,” Senator Duckworth said. “Our bill will hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and ensure immigrant and refugee families are treated humanely and no longer torn apart or indefinitely detained.”

“The United States of America is not and must never be about locking up little children in cages on the southern border,” Senator Sanders said. “This bill will provide important safeguards, preventing the Trump administration’s inhumane detention policies. Instead of throwing entire families in jail, many of whom are fleeing unspeakable violence in their own countries and seeking protection under our asylum laws, we should treat people in a way that upholds our moral values and the ideals of our laws.”

“I am disturbed that the Department of Homeland Security continues to violate the rights of families at the Southern border with almost no accountability or oversight. Congress must rein them in now,” Senator Gillibrand said. “I am proud to support this important legislation to help fix our broken immigration system and hold DHS accountable. Keeping our country safe cannot come at a cost to basic human rights. We must ensure that our immigration and border patrol agencies are never acting above the law, and we must also ensure that every family is treated with dignity by our government.”

“The Trump treatment of asylum seekers hoping for safe haven in America has been exposed as cruel and heartless. As the proud son of parents who found refuge in the United States from the Nazis, I know firsthand how immigrants and refugees strengthen our country,” Senator Wyden said. “This legislation would restore American values of decency and fair treatment to this administration’s immoral immigration policy so refugees and immigrants would once again find America to be a beacon of hope.”

“Our nation’s immigration system has been broken for far too long, and it’s breaking further under the injustices of the Trump administration,” Representative Jayapal said. “We’re saying ‘no more’ to rampant deportation forces, to cruelty and death in detention, and to privately-run detention centers that jail immigrants in order to turn a profit. With our bicameral efforts in the House and Senate, we can bring the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act into law and restore justice to this system. It is time to make real comprehensive, humane reforms to our detention system, and this bill is the right place to start.”

“The problem that we face today is twofold: our immigration system is broken, and the way Donald Trump is choosing to enforce existing immigration laws is dead wrong,” Representative Smith said. “On multiple occasions, the President has created immigration crises that unjustly target immigrant children. I introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act to address the systemic problems in our immigration detention system. In light of the Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” and the June 20, 2018 Executive Order on family detention, I am honored to have Senator Cory Booker introduce a Senate companion bill. Our legislation would put an end to the administration’s abuses of the immigration detention system and allow individuals and families to live outside of detention while they await their immigration proceedings. There is absolutely no reason for asylum seeking families to languish in detention facilities while they await the outcome of their cases. We need to pass the Dignity for Detained Immigrants into law to reform our immigration system and keep families together.“

Specifically, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act would:

  •          Prevent the detention of a primary caregiver, or vulnerable populations (i.e. minors, pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, survivors of torture, etc.) unless the government can show it is unreasonable or not practicable to place them in community-based supervision.
  •          Establish binding civil detention standards that are at least as protective as the Civil Immigration Detention Standards adopted by the American Bar Association in 2012 (the detention standards currently in use are not binding and provide minimal protections modeled on correctional rather than civil detention systems).
  •          Require the DHS Office of the Inspector General to conduct unannounced inspections of all detention facilities at least once per year and to make such reports publicly available (the current system of inspections and oversight is rife with loopholes and woefully inadequate to document and remedy egregious failures. For example, facilities are given advance warning of inspections and most facilities are inspected using outdated standards).
    •    Negative findings would result in financial penalties for contractors and remedial measures for DHS.
  •          Require DHS to investigate any deaths in custody and make the resulting report publicly available (currently, DHS is not required by law release findings publically).
  •          Require DHS to terminate all contracts with private prisons and local jails for the purpose of detention over the course of a three-year phase-out period.
  •          Require DHS to obtain judicial warrants of arrest or provide detainees a probable cause hearing before an immigration judge within 48 hours of detention.
  •          Strike the $1,500 minimum bond amount currently in the statute and require immigration judges to consider the immigrant’s ability to pay when setting bond.
  •          Require DHS to render a custody determination within 48 hours of taking an immigrant into custody and grants the immigrant the right to appeal such determination before an immigration judge within 72 hours.

Earlier this month, Booker joined Senator Feinstein and 30 other Senate colleagues in introducing a bill to halt the Trump Administration policy of separating immigrant families at the border. Yesterday, he took to the Senate floor to blast the Trump policy.

 

 

Washington, D.C. – In light of reports that military bases are being considered to house migrant children, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Jack Reed sent the following letter to Defense Secretary Mattis requesting assurances that Members of Congress will be able to conduct necessary oversight over any Department of Defense sites used to house migrant children.

Ranking Member Smith released the following statement on the letter, “I will continue to do everything I can to stop this administration’s inhumane policy toward children and their families. It’s unconscionable that we are even in this position in the first place and we must hold the federal government accountable for the care of children within their custody.”     

“President Trump’s new Executive Order doesn’t solve anything. Congress must exercise meaningful oversight and the Pentagon and the administration must be transparent about the true costs of housing these individuals on military bases,” said Senator Reed.

June 20, 2018 

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary

U.S. Department of Defense

1100 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Mattis:

We understand that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering using Department of Defense (DOD) sites to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children. We write to request assurances that Members of Congress will have access to any DOD lands and facilities, including those on military bases, being used to house unaccompanied migrant children to facilitate appropriate and necessary Congressional oversight. 

Pursuant to requests from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at HHS, it is our understanding that DOD provides information about potential facility and land options for HHS to consider for housing unaccompanied migrant children. While we recognize that these children are in the custody of HHS, we expect DOD to work with HHS to ensure that Members of Congress will be able to exercise Congressional oversight over any housing of unaccompanied migrant children on DOD property. Given the expected continued increase in the number of children in the custody of ORR, and the importance of ensuring appropriate care and safety of these children, it is essential that Members of Congress have access to these facilities even in circumstances where short-notice is provided.    

The Administration’s “zero tolerance policy” is simply cruel and inhumane. It is unconscionable that children are being separated from their parents at the border, many of whom are legally seeking asylum or humanitarian aid from violence they face in their home country. This abhorrent policy does nothing to improve our national security or address the factors that led these families to flee their home country. It is detrimental to our standing in the world and directly counter to the values our country was founded on. We will continue to fight against the separation of children from their families.

Congress must be able to conduct direct oversight to ensure these children are receiving the care they need and deserve while they are in the custody of the federal government. Given the Administration’s continued implementation of this objectionable policy, we request your confirmation that Members of Congress will have access to DOD sites selected by HHS for temporary housing of migrant children.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Adam Smith                                                                            Jack Reed

Ranking Member                                                                    Ranking Member

House Armed Services Committee                                         Senate Armed Services Committee

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