House Democrats, Caucus Chairs, and Advocates Urge Senators to Reject Compromises on Immigrants’ Rights in Ongoing Border Negotiations

January 18, 2024 11:18 am

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WASHINGTON – Immigration advocates, Caucus Chairs, and prominent House Democrats held a press conference on Thursday, January 18, in response to Senate negotiators considering anti-immigrant policies, and as Speaker Mike Johnson said he’d reject any border deal that doesn’t include H.R. 2., an extreme border policy already passed by House Republicans. Advocates’ demands also come just days after President Biden urged Congressional leaders, such as Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to pass a national security supplemental package that would include foreign aid funding.

During the press conference, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair and CAPAC, Immigration Task Force Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Congressional Black Caucus First Vice Chair Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03), Rep. Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Rep. Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), and asylum seeker Ornela Medom called on Senators to reject any compromises on immigrants’ rights, including anti-immigrant proposals that would gut our asylum system, separate families, and send vulnerable people back to danger.

Remarks shared by select speakers during the press conference are as follows:

Ornela Medom, asylum applicant and CASA member, said:

“After having my life placed in danger I escaped Cameroon. I have been calling Maryland my home for the last eight months after applying for asylum. But I cannot sit still hearing that the full asylum program is being decided in secret political negotiations. My life and thousands of families’ futures will be determined by the choice legislators make in these next two weeks. My life, and the life of so many are in your hands – do not reallocate funds from asylum seekers. Save the asylum program.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair and CAPAC Immigration Task Force Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), said:

“Today, we raise our voices against the so-called ‘negotiations’ taking place on the border. Let’s be clear: this is not a negotiation. It’s extortion. Republicans are choosing to hold Ukraine funding hostage in exchange for cruel, unworkable and permanent policy changes on immigration. They just want to shut down the border and shut down immigration.”

Congressional Black Caucus First Vice Chair Yvette Clarke (NY-09), said:

“The success of this great nation, in large part, has relied upon encouraging people from across the globe to come here and contribute to the United States. It’s part of the promise of America – a beacon of hope and refuge from those fleeing persecution, war, and violence. But right now, members of Congress are working on proposals that would significantly harm our asylum system and deter people from seeking critical protection. Turning our back on asylum seekers is not only counter to our laws, but also a betrayal of our morals and values as Americans. We cannot go back to the dark days of Trump-era policies that sought to destroy every essence of humanity in our immigration system. It’s time that our elected leaders put real solutions over politics.”

Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), said:

“The United States became the greatest nation on earth because of the immigrants who built it. The right-wing campaign to demonize migrants and asylum-seekers will not be satisfied by the extreme demands that Republicans have put on the table. Congress cannot let the lives of the world’s most vulnerable families be used as political pawns.”

Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), said:

“As a son of immigrants, this issue is deeply personal to me. We can’t compromise on our morals and cave to extreme demands from Republicans. We need rational policy solutions to address the challenges of securing the border, not politicized efforts to take asylum away and deport millions of people. I urge my Senate colleagues to uphold the dignity and rights of immigrants.”

Livestream recording is available here.

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