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IMMIGRATION REFORM
(House of Representatives - February 14, 2013)

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[Pages H541-H543]
                           IMMIGRATION REFORM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2013, the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis) is recognized 
for 24 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of passing 
comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.


                             Cindy Slosson

  I have a story to share from a resident in my district, Cindy Slosson 
from Fort Collins, Colorado. Cindy wrote me that her daughter fell in 
love with a young man from Mexico when they were in high school. They 
had a dream about their future lives together, and part of that dream 
was of course helping him become an American citizen so he could go to 
college, find a job and support their family that they hoped to build 
together. They persisted tirelessly for 10 years, through everything 
that the American bureaucracy and Immigration Services threw at them, 
and today, finally, he's a citizen of the United States. He's pursuing 
his degree in aviation mechanics and wants to continue to go to school 
for an engineering degree.
  Part of their dream is now a reality and they keep on building upon 
this dream to be contributing community members and leaders among their 
friends and family. Cindy writes that, unfortunately, some young people 
don't have the kind of support and focus and, frankly, patience that 
her children had.
  Cindy writes:

       Let's make their path a bit more attainable. I believe most 
     everyone truly wants to do their best, so let's give them a 
     chance to be their best in this country.

                              {time}  1720

  As Cindy writes, there are so many people that are caught up in 
indefinite waiting periods just to be reunited with their own family, 
people who give up hope and move from their family and friends and 
everybody they know simply because they can't get through the 
unrealistic length of time it takes to navigate our legal system.
  As part of comprehensive immigration reform, we need to have a system 
that reflects our values as Americans and one that's realistic for 
families to go through.


                             Monica Olguin

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from a constituent from my 
district, Monica Olguin from Boulder, Colorado. Now, her story is an 
interesting one because the U.S. came to her instead of her moving to 
the United States. Her family hails from the southwestern United States 
even before it was part of Mexico. Her family descended from Spanish 
colonial settlers in 1598 near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the following 
300 years, they traveled north to Colorado to Conejos County, where the 
family has been for over 100 years.
  Now, Monica writes:

       Many of our best students today have been immigrant 
     children.

  Monica, herself, taught in our public schools for over 30 years.
  Monica writes:

       They enter our school system with great hopes and dreams 
     and do not take education for granted. It isn't long, though, 
     before they are able to express their fear of losing their 
     place in this country, their fear of not belonging in their 
     country of origin or their knowledge that there is no hope 
     for success or dreams for their future in either their 
     country of origin or in this country.

  Monica shares the concerns of so many of us whose lives have touched 
those who live in this country every day in fear of the very government 
that should be there to protect them, in fear that it will detain them 
indefinitely, in fear that it will send them out of this country back 
to a country that they know no one in, that they might not have even 
been in since they were 3 years old or 8 years old or perhaps even to a 
country where the language that's spoken is not even a language that 
they're fluent in. That is the reality of our immigration system every 
day.
  As Monica writes, it's critical that we replace our broken 
immigration system with one that works now. You're only a child once, 
and we need to make sure that our next generation of leaders has every 
opportunity to make our country greater.


                           Paul Edward Condon

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from a constituent of mine 
in Lafayette, Colorado, Paul Edward Condon. Like so many Coloradans, 
Paul feels that we need to replace our broken immigration system with 
one that works for our country and make sure that we have a way to make 
sure that the people already here can get right with the law.
  Paul writes that on his father's side he is descended from people who 
his daughter, Katherine, likes to say qualify her to be a member of the 
Daughters of the American Revolution. On his mother's side, he's 
descended from immigrants from Bohemia in the 1890s who homesteaded in 
Oregon. So, like many Americans, Paul is a child of both one side of 
the family with long roots in our country dating from before our 
country existed and another side of his family recent immigrants.
  As Paul writes, perhaps with the full sense of understanding that 
comes from his personal story, Paul writes:

       We are all sons and daughters of immigrants, including 
     those descended from the peoples who were already here when 
     my earliest immigrant ancestor arrived and descended from the 
     people who also arrived unwillingly in this country. All 
     immigrants, all mingled together. And, indeed, even 
     Congresspersons are descended from immigrants. 
     Congresspersons who wish to restrict immigration and reject 
     immigrants are rejecting their own heritage. They should be 
     ashamed.

  I agree with Paul. We are all, in this country, descended from 
immigrants. And whether those immigrants arrived thousands of years 
ago, hundreds of years ago, decades ago, or last week, our future is 
intertwined with the very definition of America as an immigrant Nation, 
a Nation of laws, a Nation of immigrants.
  Those two need to be reconciled. We need laws that reflect our values 
as Americans, our values as a Nation of immigrants; laws that are 
enforceable and in touch with reality rather than laws that tear 
families apart every day in this country and deny--deny people who have 
worked hard here and contributed to society the opportunity to fully 
partake in our great country and to someday become Americans 
themselves.


                         Semay Dibekulu Nelson

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from a constituent in 
Colorado from the Second Congressional District, Semay Dibekulu Nelson, 
from Boulder, Colorado, who shared a story with me about immigration, 
that speaks to the need to reform our immigration system today to 
ensure that everybody gets a chance to succeed in this country.
  Semay writes:

       As a first generation immigrant American having received 
     political asylum under life-threatening conditions, I feel 
     the pain of undocumented immigrants and their fear of being 
     deported. I am honored to have received your message, and I 
     would like to reflect on this important topic. I'm aware 
     there's no time to waste while millions are being underpaid 
     for an honest day's work while living in fear of detention 
     and deportation. I hope our government brings this agonizing 
     issue to a positive resolution. The time is over in which we 
     can afford to ignore an issue that has led to this 
     humanitarian catastrophe.

  I agree with Semay. Hers is a firsthand story of many legal 
immigrants like Semay who have firsthand knowledge of the process of 
leaving everything they know and coming to a new country without 
friends and without family. How difficult is that? Yet, today, our 
government is active tearing families apart, at taxpayer expense

[[Page H542]]

taking mothers from daughters and placing them in detention at the cost 
to taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.
  We need to replace our broken immigration system with one that works 
for our country and reflects our values as Americans, as even our 
newest Americans like Semay agree with.


                              John Hoffman

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from John Hoffman in 
Boulder, Colorado. Like so many Coloradans and like so many Americans, 
John feels that we need to replace our broken immigration system with 
one that works and allows a way for the 11 million people who are here 
without status to get right with the law and fulfill their destiny.
  John writes:

       My great-great German grandparents settled in Germantown in 
     Louisville, Kentucky. They were hardworking and industrious 
     and eventually got into the vaunted ``middle class.'' Let the 
     Latinos do the same.


                            Izabella Peszek

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from Izabella Peszek from 
Lafayette, Colorado. Izabella wrote me to share her immigration story 
and her passion for making sure that we replace our broken immigration 
system with one that works and reflects our values as Americans.
  Izabella and her husband were recruited to join a graduate program in 
math at the University of Maryland in 1989. When they decided to go for 
it, they thought they would return to their home country, Poland. That 
was their plan when they got their degrees. But fate decided otherwise. 
When they graduated, Robert in 2 years and Izabella in 2\1/2\, the 
country that they knew in their childhood was gone, and they were being 
offered some very tempting positions in the United States. Robert went 
to CMU for a postdoc, and Izabella joined the pharma industry.
  Eventually, they got green cards and became citizens of the United 
States and of our great State of Colorado, which is now their home, 
where both of them are respected in their fields and are happy doing 
what they do best.
  Now Izabella and Robert can't imagine living anywhere else. And they 
work hard to make their new home in the United States even better, just 
as so many other immigrant families contribute to this country, are an 
asset to this country, are an asset to America, are part of America, 
and are as American as anybody else, which is why we need an 
immigration system that reflects our values and our priorities as 
Americans and ensures that others have the ability to give back to this 
great country just as Izabella and Robert have and continue to do every 
day.


                              Janice Green

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from Janice Green from 
Westminster, Colorado, about why we need to fix our broken immigration 
system to help reunite families.
  Janice writes:

       My family has been in the United States for many 
     generations, but my daughter-in-law is prevented from joining 
     my daughter here because of the Defense of Marriage Act. They 
     were legally married in Portugal, and my daughter may have to 
     leave the United States to be with her spouse.

                              {time}  1730

  Under current immigration law today, same-sex couples are not 
accepted under immigration law, even though there are a number of 
States where same-sex couples have the same marriage rights as 
opposite-sex couples. Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, federally 
that marriage is not counted for purposes of immigration.
  Janice's daughter might be driven from the country she loves and can 
contribute so much to because there's no viable path for her family to 
stay together. That's why I support Jerry Nadler's United American 
Families Act, and we need to work hard to make sure that as we replace 
our broken immigration system with one that works, it's fair to all 
Americans and treats all Americans fairly and reflects our value as 
Americans of keeping families like Janice's daughter and daughter-in-
law together.


                              Jean Hodges

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from Jean Hodges of 
Boulder, Colorado, about why we need to improve our immigration system.
  Jean writes that both sides of her family immigrated in the 1800s 
from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. They began life in Virginia and 
moved to Ohio around the Civil War. So Jean doesn't share the immediacy 
of immigrant parentage that many others do, but Jean does write that 
she understands the privilege of being a U.S. citizen and all that 
provides: for all of us to find a path to equality and whatever our 
pursuit of happiness may be.
  Jean, like so many Coloradans and so many Americans says, ``I wish 
that for all immigrants.''
  Jean understands the reasons that her forebearers might have left 
everything and everyone they knew to come to this country.
  I know Jean. And the way that she has given back to our community as 
a school teacher, as a leader for equality, her work to support parents 
of LGBT kids, has been of tremendous value to our country, like the 
tremendous value that today's immigrants will provide through their 
public service, their community involvement, through their efforts as 
teachers, as firefighters, as policemen, as lawyers, as doctors, as 
successful business people who will lead our country to a more 
prosperous and bright future.


                              Dan McLellan

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from Dan McLellan of 
Boulder, Colorado, about why we need to fix our broken immigration 
system and replace it with one that reflects our values as Americans.
  Dan is a fourth-generation Coloradan. In fact, on his father's side, 
he has ties all the way back to the Mayflower. On his mother's side, 
the family came from Ireland, Italy, Germany, and Scotland. Like many 
Americans of mixed blood, he remembers memorizing when he was in fifth 
grade his ancestry. He would quickly list it off: English, Irish, 
German, Italian, and Scottish.
  But recently, Dan fell in love with a Canadian. It was love at first 
sight, and last March they got married in New York. The plan was that 
Dan and his spouse were going to spend their lives together. But you 
know what? Right now they don't know where because Dan's spouse is 
another man. Unlike if Dan's spouse was a woman, Dan doesn't have the 
same kind of right to allow his husband, Michael, to be a legal 
resident of our country. Dan writes that he's forced to have to choose 
between the country he loves, the country his ancestors worked hard to 
get to, and being united with his own family and his husband.
  Dan calls upon us in Congress--and I pass this challenge to our 
colleagues--to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package that 
treats families fairly, that treats families equally, that ensures that 
families are united. That's why I'm a proud sponsor of Jerry Nadler's 
United American Families Act, and I call upon this body to include 
respect for marriage as an important bed-stone principle of 
comprehensive immigration reform.


                              Sally Miller

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the story of Sally Miller from 
Broomfield, Colorado, and her strong support for fixing our broken 
immigration system. Sally is a social worker, and her story is about 
several pieces of her own personal experience working with people in 
the Denver metro area.
  Sally has worked with immigrants who came to our country 20 years 
ago. They raised their families, they hoped for a better life, their 
kids are U.S. citizens, have succeeded in school, and are giving back. 
But Sally writes that the parents of one of their families are 
constantly in fear that the father may be caught on the way to or from 
his cleaning job and sent back to a country that he left, torn apart 
from his family at taxpayer expense.
  One of their three children graduated from high school just this past 
June and is working and taking college classes. The other kids are 16 
and 14. Sally writes that her friend and his wife hope to stay in the 
Denver area until all three of their kids graduate from high school, 
but every day the kids come home from school, they live in constant 
fear that our government sees their parents and sends them back to 
another country.
  Sally writes:

       The parents are good decent people, loving parents, and 
     have always felt their sacrifices for their children's sake 
     have been worth the price.


[[Page H543]]


  There are so many families that risk being torn apart because our 
immigration system is completely out of touch with our values as 
Americans. Rather than reuniting families, it tears families apart; 
rather than encouraging people to follow the law, it rewards 
unscrupulous business people who hire people under the table and 
encourages the violation of the law and identity theft.
  We need to replace our immigration system with one that works for our 
country, allow people who've been here and are hardworking and 
contribute to our country to get right with the law, and, yes, some day 
enjoy the same benefits of citizenship that Sally herself enjoys.
  I call upon my colleagues to pass comprehensive immigration reform 
now.


                              Ann Harroun

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the story of Ann Harroun from 
Loveland, Colorado, who wrote to me with regard to her support for 
comprehensive immigration reform and her own family's story.
  Ann writes that her relatives first came to Canada from France and 
England; the French in the 1700s and the English a little later. Ann's 
great-great grandmother was becalmed in the middle of the Atlantic 
Ocean for a time, and both sides of her family were farmers in Quebec 
before wandering into northern New Hampshire in the 1920s.
  Ann writes, ``Were they legal? Who knows?'' She further writes that 
the French had large families and soon outgrew their farms. They moved 
on from New Hampshire. Her mother moved from New Hampshire to Maine in 
1942 after the death of her father, and she worked for Maine Blue Cross 
for 30 years.
  Ann moved to California after high school and saw an opportunity to 
attend college, married, had children, joined the League of Women 
Voters, finally graduated in 1980, and promptly won an election to the 
Vermont house. Ann was the first in her family to attend college, vote, 
own a house, and hold public office.
  There are so many today that would be the first to go to college, 
that would be the first to vote, that would be the first to own a 
house, that would be the first to hold public office, that would be the 
first to be captains of industry, that would be the first to have 
advanced degrees if only we can find a way where they have the ability 
to get right with the law and get paperwork that allows them to pursue 
the great opportunities that this country offers.
  As Ann says, ``Were they illegal? Who knows?'' Were they illegal? Who 
cares? When my family came here in 1906, they got off the boat and 
registered. There was no quota or process or thing they had to deal 
with on the legal front. They just showed up here. You know what? They 
were welcomed. And you know what? Their grandson on one side and great-
grandson on the other is now a United States Congress person, just as 
Ann was the first in her family after they wandered down from Canada to 
New Hampshire. Ann has given so much for her country, just as so many 
of today's immigrants will if we only give them today's opportunity.


                              Daryl Shute

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the story of Daryl Shute from 
Littleton, Colorado. Daryl writes with regard to the critical need to 
replace our broken immigration system with one that works.
  Daryl's grandfather, Joseph Giangreco, emigrated from Sicily to the 
United States to join his mother, who was already living in Buffalo, 
New York, in the mid-nineteen teens. Daryl writes that Italians were 
the unwanted immigrants of that day. Daryl writes that he returned to 
Canada, walked across the border, and rejoined his mother after he was 
deported from New York.
  He was caught and given a choice to fight for the Allies in Europe to 
earn his citizenship. He accepted that. And Daryl's grandfather, 
Joseph, went to war for the American Dream. Unfortunately, he received 
injuries during that war that affected him the rest of his life. Even 
so, he was hardworking and worked hard from the back of a horse-drawn 
cart to support his family for many years.

                              {time}  1740

  Even to this day, immigrants give so much of themselves through their 
hard work, their toil, their sweat and tears, which all of us as 
Americans prosper from and benefit from. We need to find a way, just as 
Joseph's grandfather did, so that people can get right with the law.
  What is being discussed and what needs to be discussed is not an 
amnesty any more than if you get a speeding ticket and you enter a plea 
bargain it's an amnesty. It's essentially a plea bargain. Yes, you 
violated the law. Let's figure out how you get right with the law: 
register, pay a fine, get your working permit. It's not realistic in 
any way, shape or form to try to round up large numbers of people who 
are giving so much to our country every day and who, in many cases, 
have American children. That's why we need to pass immigration reform 
and replace our broken immigration system with one that reflects our 
values as Americans.


                             Martha Denney

  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share a story from Martha Denney in Fort 
Collins, Colorado. It's her own personal story and the story of her 
family's immigration and why we need to replace our broken immigration 
system with one that works and pass comprehensive immigration reform 
now.
  Martha's grandmother's family members were immigrants from 
Montbeliard, France, but they were actually Swiss Mennonites. They were 
driven from Switzerland as followers of the Mennonite faith. They 
followed the teachings that defied the teachings of the Catholic 
Church, and they were discriminated against. Many Swiss farmers became 
valued and trusted workers on estates in France, where they went to 
escape persecution. When they were able to emigrate to the U.S. in the 
late 1800s, they came to Wayland, Iowa, which was a small Mennonite 
community.
  Martha has worked for more than 30 years in the area of international 
exchange at a large American university, Colorado State University, in 
Fort Collins. She has worked with issues of visas and student visas and 
the immigration of students. She has observations about the process 
that she has tried to share over the years with Representatives of our 
United States Government, but she believes that, up until now, they 
weren't in a position to hear them because they weren't focusing on 
immigration reform.
  I call upon this body to focus on immigration reform, to heed the 
stories of those like Martha's and of the many others who interact 
every day--whether it's as an employer or an educator or a social 
worker--with those who are here in this country and are working hard to 
make our country greater but who lack the paperwork that verifies their 
own existence, who lack the paperwork that allows them to exist under 
the rule of law in this country.
  We need to replace our broken immigration system with one that 
reflects our American values, with one that allows people to step out 
of the darkness and into the light, to get right with the law, to be 
able to fully pursue their destinies as future Americans. We are a 
Nation of immigrants, and we all benefit from the tremendous benefits 
that immigrants give to this country every day.
  I hope that now is the time that Representatives of our United States 
Government in this House of Representatives will be in a position to 
hear and will be in a position to focus on immigration reform in order 
to make our country stronger, to make our country safer, to make our 
country more prosperous.
  Mr. Speaker, I call upon my colleagues to support comprehensive 
immigration reform and to pass it now. We must replace our broken 
immigration system with one that works for our country and our values.
  I yield back the balance of my time.

                          ____________________




    

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