Press Releases

Smith Statement on Trump Administration Decision to Limit Affordable Contraception

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s decision to roll back access to birth control:

October 6, 2017

“Today, in an abhorrent attack on women’s rights the Trump Administration ended the federal requirement for employers to cover birth control. This dangerous decision turns back the clock by enabling employers to discriminate under the guise of religious freedom. The birth control mandate has allowed millions to access affordable contraception and given women autonomy over their reproductive health and futures. Health care must include access to affordable birth control and reproductive services. The Trump Administration’s ideologically-driven decision is a shameful sanctioning of gender discrimination that endangers women’s health.” 

Smith Statement Opposing Republican Budget and Tax Plan

Washington D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith released the following statement after voting to oppose the Republican’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution and Tax Plan:

October 5, 2017

Congress has a responsibility to put forth a budget that expands opportunities for American families to prosper. We must invest in education, affordable health care, rebuilding our collapsing infrastructure, and growing our economy for everyone. The Democratic budget proposals offered this week on the House Floor would do just that.   

In contrast, the Republican budgets are not only cruel and irresponsible, they are unrealistic. They use budget gimmicks to give the appearance that they balance, and they fail to address the many pressing issues that the American people face both at home and abroad. Slashing critical federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid, eliminating essential nutrition assistance, and gutting veterans’ benefits is unacceptable. Republicans should be honest with the American people about what their budget resolution is - a vehicle to support their proposal to cut taxes on the wealthiest and disproportionately shift the tax burden to working Americans. The disastrous Republican budget and tax plan would threaten our economic progress and hurt American workers and their families.    

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, legislation to reform the systemic problems in our immigration detention system. Our current system is inhumane, unjust, and driven by private, for-profit corporations like The GEO Group, which operates the Northwest Detention Center located in Tacoma, Washington. This bill will end the use of private facilities and repeal mandatory detention, while restoring due process, oversight, accountability, and transparency to the immigration detention system.

“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.

"My time in detention in Artesia was a nightmare, a scene in which there is fear, anguish, and desperation in every breath. The immigration detention system harms the lives of thousands of people every day. The solution is not to just improve conditions in these detention centers, the real solution must be a fundamental change. Congress must urgently act to pass this bill and bring change to this tragic system of immigration detention," said Angelina Marquez, survivor of U.S. detention system.

“Being detained was difficult in every way. You are a prisoner. I am speaking out because the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act gives me hope that the U.S. government can find a way to stop the inhumane treatment being given to so many immigrants. We want to live peacefully and safely, and our country’s leaders must remember that all human beings deserve to be treated with dignity,” said Daniel, survivor of U.S. detention system.

“Our government locks away hundreds of thousands of people every year, hidden in remote jails with punishing conditions and no accountability. President Trump is asking Congress to give DHS even more money to super-fund this abusive network of jails. We applaud Representatives Smith and Jayapal for responding to this madness with a plan - a workable, compassionate and rights-respecting alternative to today's shameful reality,” said Mary Meg McCarthy of the National Immigration Justice Center.

“The Trump administration has made it clear that they will aggressively target immigrants for arrest and detention. This bill is an important step toward stemming the unchecked expansion of the immigration detention system, ensuring much needed oversight and accountability over detention operations and providing greater protections for immigrants. We call on Congress to immediately pass this bill in order to end the over-reliance on an inhumane and ineffective system and treat immigrants in detention with fairness and dignity,” said Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Over the past decade, the immigration detention system has grown dramatically without sufficient safeguards against human and civil rights abuses. It is a system known for egregious violations including sexual assault, prolonged solitary confinement, and life-threatening medical neglect. Many of the people detained are fleeing persecution in their home countries, while others have lived in the U.S. for years. They are often detained in for-profit prisons and county jails isolated from family, community and legal support. Many are detained for months without access to an immigration judge and are denied basic rights.”

“Our immigration detention system is a driving force of the U.S. deportation agenda, ruthlessly separating families and communities. For the past three decades the government has put hundreds of thousands of immigrants behind bars at a massive human, financial and moral cost. Under this administration, an already oppressive, inhumane and deadly system of detention has become even bigger, less transparent and less accountable. It is exactly at this moment—as the administration pushes to massively expand the system and further undermine the rights of all immigrants—that Congress must take immediate and decisive action to intervene. While this bill does not fully end the inhumane and unnecessary system of immigration detention, it takes a bold step forward by ending mandatory detention, ending privatized detention, enacting critical safeguards and reversing the trend of constant, unchecked growth,” said Mary Small, Detention Watch Network.  

The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act is cosponsored by John Conyers Jr. (MI-13), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby Rush (IL-1), 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), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-4), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Jared Polis (CO-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Judy Chu (CA-27), Bill Foster (IL-11), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-4), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-4), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34).

The legislation is also supported by the following 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, FIRM, Grassroots Leadership, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Just Detention International, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Make the Road New York, Make the Road NJ, Civic Action, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), 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, Tahirih Justice Center, United We Dream, Washington Defender Association, Women’s Refugee Commission, 21 Progress

Smith Statement on Hurricane Maria Relief Effort

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about the Hurricane Maria disaster relief effort:

October 3, 2017

“The military effort in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands continues to be significantly under-resourced and we are still not responding properly to the logistical needs at hand. These U.S. citizens are in desperate need of heliborne airlift and search capability, truck drivers, and civil engineers to clear roads and enable the delivery of food, water, and supplies. The center of Puerto Rico is still almost entirely cut off from the outside world as a result of power outages, blocked and washed-out roads, and the destruction of telecommunication infrastructure. People are scared in their homes as they lack water, fuel, and electricity.

“We currently have only 50 helicopters responding to these logistical challenges, compared to a  need for far more and a logistical approach that makes proper use of them. There are only some 10,000 troops involved, in contrast to 60,000 during Hurricane Katrina and 22,000 during last year’s Haiti earthquake. The USNS Comfort is only just arriving and President Trump just now visiting the site of a hurricane that happened on September 20. The USS New York and USS Iwo Jima, which helped with relief in Florida during Hurricane Irma, are still sitting in dock in Florida.

“It shouldn’t have taken Congressional pressure to convince President Trump that he should appoint a three-star general to head the effort and send additional supplies. Lt. General Buchanan is only beginning to take stock of the situation, and because of the lag time of more than two weeks, this humanitarian effort is already so far behind the curve that I fear an enormous amount of damage has already been done.

“We know that, as American citizens, the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are resilient and resourceful, but many are without food and water and time is running short. Our military has transportation units with truck drivers and engineer units to clear the streets. It has airlift. It has the capabilities that could make a difference if they are put to good use. President Trump needs to exercise leadership and get these capabilities working for Americans who are in need as soon as possible.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement about this week’s incident regarding racial slurs at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School:

“The Air Force needs to investigate this incident thoroughly and take appropriate action. There is no place in the military for these kinds of acts. Incidents like these, even if they are performed by a single individual, offend our moral sensibilities and they can undermine the morale of service members and cadets. It is a bedrock principle that everyone in the U.S. military should be treated with dignity and respect.”