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PRESS RELEASE: My Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Why I Do Not Support H.R. 15

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              PRESS CONTACT:

   March 26, 2014                                                                    Brenda Lopez  956.544.8352

                                                                                                                                         

PRESS RELEASE: My Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and Why I Do Not Support H.R. 15

 

Washington, D.C.--H.R. 3163, a bill introduced by Congressman Raúl Grijalva and myself, provides a full pathway to citizenship without border security triggers.  Tying a pathway to citizenship to border security metrics sets immigration reform legislation up to fail.   

 

While I support the McCaul-Thompson border security bill, a bipartisan measure passed out of the House Homeland Security Committee last year--I do not believe that border security measures should be used as a condition to trigger the legalization or citizenship process.  These two issues are separate and should be addressed in separate legislation.  Border security measures are aimed at preventing undocumented immigrants from entering this country in the future and from halting narcotics and other contraband from entering the U.S.  On the other hand, a pathway to citizenship addresses the approximately 11 million undocumented people who are already in the U.S.

 

Contrary to H.R. 3163, H.R. 15 provides that border security triggers may be required at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security before undocumented immigrants are allowed to obtain lawful permanent residence.  Equally troubling, H.R. 15 authorizes National Guard deployment to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and authorizes the implementation of a “Southern Border Fencing Strategy.”  As someone who grew up on and currently lives on the U.S.-Mexico border, I am strongly opposed to the imposition of these conditions as prerequisites to lawful permanent residence.

 

One of the most important foreign policy issues that confronts our country is encouraging Mexico to address cartel violence and improve socioeconomic conditions in Mexican border states such as Tamaulipas.  Currently, across from Brownsville, Texas in Matamoros, Mexico--residents live in fear.  Cartel violence has driven those who can afford it, mostly American citizens, to flee and live in the United States.  Those who remain, live in a community that has been stripped of its vibrant cultural and economic vitality.  For the last century and a half, residents of both communities enjoyed a bicultural experience where crossing to work, eat, shop or visit family and friends was a part of everyday life. This way of life has now been ripped apart and we want it back. 

 

Equally important,  we must ensure that those who enforce our immigration laws do so justly and humanely.  I am deeply disturbed by the actions of a Border Patrol agent who is reported to have assaulted three women from Honduras who were crossing through South Texas.  This incident is not only criminal, but also an abuse of the public’s trust placed in law enforcement officials--the vast majority of whom honorably perform their duties.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection must reevaluate their agency’s hiring and screening procedures to ensure that prospective agents are able to enforce our country’s laws in an ethical and compassionate manner.    

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