(House of Representatives - April 17, 2013)

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[Pages H2114-H2119]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           IMMIGRATION REFORM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2013, the gentleman from California (Mr. Vargas) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.
  Mr. VARGAS. Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. I appreciate it.
  I would first like to say and take a moment to remember the victims 
of the Boston attack. Certainly, my prayers and the prayers of all of 
us here go to the families and everyone affected.
  I had the great opportunity to go to Harvard Law School and to 
graduate from that school and spend 3 years there. I ran the marathon 
once. Usually, when you finish the marathon, it's a great celebration. 
It's an incredible time. The people there are so friendly, so nice, and 
everyone is excited. So what this horrible tragedy has done is 
unbelievable, and our prayers go out to each and every one affected.
  I also rise today in recognition of the need for our great Nation to 
address immigration reform. Tomorrow, many evangelical churches are 
scheduled to come to the Capitol to pray for just and merciful 
immigration reform. I want to welcome them here. I think it is about 
time that we listened to some of the voices of these pastors, to some 
of the voices of their congregations. I welcome them here, and I'm 
very, very excited about their presence here at the Capitol tomorrow. I 
know that they will be praying for us. I know that they will be here to 
open up our hearts and to listen to what immigration reform can do for 
us, which is to set us on a path of not only more justice but a more 
merciful path, so I am very excited about tomorrow.
  I want to put this in the context of what has been happening in the 
United States because of our immigration laws, and I'd like read an 
excerpt from The New York Times. This is entitled, ``Immigration Status 
of Army Spouses Often Leads to Snags'':

       Lieutenant Kenneth Tenebro enlisted in the Armed Forces 
     after the September 11 terrorist attacks, signing up even 
     before he became an American citizen. He served one tour of 
     duty in Iraq, dodging roadside bombs . . . but throughout 
     that . . . mission, he harbored a fear he did not share with 
     anyone in the military. Lieutenant Tenebro worried that his 
     wife, Wilma, back home in New York with their infant 
     daughter, would be deported. Wilma, who like her husband was 
     born in the Philippines, is an undocumented immigrant.
       ``That was our fear all the time,'' he said. When he called 
     home, ``She often cried about it,'' he said. ``Like, hey, 
     what's going to happen? Where will I leave my daughter?''

  It goes on and explains:

       Like Lieutenant Tenebro, many soldiers, anticipating rebuke 
     and possibly damage to their careers, do not reveal to others 
     in the military their family ties to immigrants here 
       Mrs. Tenebro is snagged on a statute, notorious among 
     immigration lawyers, that makes it virtually impossible for 
     her to become a legal resident without first leaving

[[Page H2115]]

     the United States and staying away for 10 years.

  So our current law requires that the wife of this brave American 
soldier leave the country for 10 years before her status can be 
legalized. There are very few things that I can think of that are less 
just than that law, and that law must be changed.
  I want to thank the Senators, the Group of Eight--I don't like the 
word ``gang'' because I'm from California, and there it has a very 
negative connotation. I don't think of the Senators as gangs or as 
anything other than good guys over there, so I want to thank the Group 
of Eight that has come forward with these proposals, because I think 
these proposals are very, very important.

  You might think that Wilma and Lieutenant Tenebro are unique, but 
they're not. In fact, we've heard testimony here, interestingly. A 
brave marine said something in such stark terms that I'll never forget 
it. He came and told his story, and he said this:

       I've been through two tours of duty in Iraq, and I'm going 
     back to Afghanistan. I'm not afraid of dying, ``because 
     that's what soldiers do.''

  I thought that was really stark. He's not afraid of dying in fighting 
for our country, but what he said he was afraid of was that his wife 
might be deported. It was the exact same thing as Lieutenant Tenebro. 
His fear was not that he would be killed in action. His fear was that 
his wife would be deported. He said, What will I do then with my two 
children? What will happen with my two children if they deport my wife?
  He told the story that he met his wife at church. I understand from 
him she's a beautiful young lady. They fell in love, they got married, 
and they began to have children. The next thing he thinks about is--
well, he gets deployed to fight for his country, and he's proud to do 
it, but his fear is that his wife and his kids will be separated, that 
the family will be broken.
  He did a very interesting thing that I've heard a couple of soldiers 
do now. He has covered his wife's car with ``Go, Marines. My husband is 
a marine in Iraq.'' He says he has blanketed his car with that, 
suspecting that they won't pull her over for a minor traffic issue 
because, if they do pull her over, the police will find out that she 
does not have a driver's license because she's not a citizen. So his 
fear is that they're going to deport her. What will become then of 
their kids?
  Again, he's not unique. We also met here--and he testified over in 
the Senate--a gentleman who was an Army soldier. He was in the Army. He 
went to Iraq, and unfortunately, he was injured. He then came home, and 
thank God for his loving wife, who has taken care of him, and his 
children. He has the opportunity then to live with them, but they live 
in fear. He says:

       I'm captured here. I am a prisoner of my country. I'm 
     afraid to go anywhere because I can't drive. My wife drives, 
     but my wife's undocumented. I am afraid that they're going to 
     pull us over and they're going to deport her. Then what am I 
     supposed to do? How am I going to take care of myself and my 

  This is a very unjust law. This law has to be changed. How can it be 
that we can allow this? One of our brave soldiers is called by his 
Nation to fight. He fights and he's injured. He comes home, and his 
loving wife takes care of him, and his fear is that his wife is going 
to be deported. We have to change this law. We have to change this law 
because it's unjust.
  I would like to take a moment to review what our immigration law is, 
because a lot of people say, Well, you know, these people broke the 
law. They broke the law. Maybe they should be deported. Maybe the 
soldier's wife should be deported. She broke the law. I would say this: 
let's take a look at the law because the law is very interesting. I'm 
an attorney, and I can tell you this, that the law usually is divided 
in a very special way, and that is: malum in se and malum prohibitum.

                              {time}  1840

  So what is malum in se? Malum in se is this. Malum in se means the 
thing is wrong or bad in itself. It's malum in itself. Malum in se. So, 
for example, murder, murder is illegal because it's malum in se. It's 
always wrong. It's bad. It's wrong to murder and it's illegal to 
murder, so that's malum in se.
  So what is malum prohibitum? Malum prohibitum is it's bad or wrong or 
illegal because it's prohibited, not because it's wrong or immoral in 
itself. So the act itself is not wrong; it's simply illegal because we 
make it illegal. A good example is the speed limit. You could be 
traveling 56 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone. Now you've broken 
the law, but have you done something immoral? Have you done something 
wrong? Well, you broke the law, but you know what? You didn't endanger 
anybody. And, in fact, your car is built to go safely at 56 miles an 
hour. The road, we call them in California freeways, the freeway was 
built to do 70, so you're actually obeying common sense. So it's 
illegal only because it's malum prohibitum, because we created the law, 
not because it's wrong in itself. And, in fact, we often change the law 
because we say that's a silly law. It doesn't make sense to travel 55 
miles an hour on a freeway, so we change the law to 70. Although I 
drove through Texas, and I see that they have 75. They think it's safe 
at 75, which is great. I'm sure it is. And so they changed the law. Why 
they'd change the law, because there's nothing wrong or immoral about 
it. It's simply malum prohibitum, so they changed the law. That's what 
we have to do with our immigration laws.
  When a person comes here to work, when a wife like Wilma lives here 
with her husband, she's not violating any type of moral law. She's 
violating malum prohibitum, a law that we made that we can change.
  So let's review, then, a little bit of the immigration laws in our 
  The Naturalization Act of 1790 stated that Congress adopted the 
uniform rule so that any free white person could apply for citizenship 
after 2 years of residency. So if you were here, if you lived here for 
2 years, you could become a resident.
  Then there were minor changes, and in 1882, we had the Chinese 
Exclusion Act of 1882. It was the first Federal immigration law that 
suspended Chinese immigration for 10 years and barred Chinese in the 
U.S. from becoming citizens. A terrible law that, of course, we 
changed. Why? Because it was malum prohibitum. It was a dumb law. It 
was an immoral law. We changed it, and we should've changed it. Thank 
God we changed it.
  Then in 1892 we opened up Ellis Island. No one ever talks about 
California, by the way. We had Angel Island located in San Francisco. 
Not as many people went through Angel Island. In fact, between 1892 and 
1953, in Ellis Island we had over 12 million immigrants that were 
processed in that facility. Angel Island had nowhere near that.
  What was the law then? The law said this: first-and second-class 
passengers, those on ships, were not required to undergo inspections at 
Ellis Island unless they were sick or had legal problems. So, in other 
words, you showed up; come on in. That's the law. That was the law. You 
showed up; come on in. You're in first-class, second-class on a ship, 
yup, come on through. No problem.
  Third-class passengers had to undergo a medical and legal inspection. 
If in good health and papers in order, the process took 3 to 5 hours, 
and then they were citizens. That was the law. That was the law. So 
it's very interesting when people say, Well, we did it the right way. 
My ancestors did it the right way.
  They came here. There was basically no law. All you had to do was 
walk in. It was very interesting.
  Then there were minor changes. But in 1986, we had a major change--
the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. It is also known as the 
Simpson-Mazzoli Act. And what this law did, it set a ceiling of 540,000 
immigrants a year. It also required employers to attest to their 
employees' immigration status, that they were here legally, and made it 
illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants. It 
legalized certain seasonal agricultural immigrants, and it legalized 
illegal immigrants who entered the United States before January 1, 
1982, and had resided here in the United States continuously.
  And who signed the law? Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan signed the law. 
It's very interesting because I'm a Californian. Ronald Reagan, even 
though he is from Illinois originally, we claim him as one of our own. 
We're very proud of Ronald Reagan in California,

[[Page H2116]]

and even as a Democrat, I'm very proud of Ronald Reagan. I've always 
liked Ronald Reagan. I thought he was a good man, and I think he set a 
great example. He certainly set a great example when it came to 
immigration. He looked at the humanity of the immigrants here, and I'll 
read a couple of quotes from him a little later on, but he signed it, 
and it was something he never regretted. He never regretted. Just the 
opposite. He said, I regretted raising taxes in California and a bunch 
of other bills that he signed when he was still a fairly young 
Governor, but he never regretted this. Just the opposite; it was 
something that he was proud of.

  So what now? Where do we go from here? I think what we should do is 
we should remember the people that are coming tomorrow, the evangelical 
pastors and churches, and thank them for coming and opening our hearts. 
I want to read a few letters from both Catholic priests, pastors and a 
rabbi, and see what they think about immigration because it has been 
very interesting. I do watch here some of the speeches that are given, 
and I have to say that they're very negative about immigrants. You hear 
about all the terrible things, the parade of horribles that some people 
come up here and talk about day after day after day, and you'd think 
that most immigrants are terrible. It would be as if I came up here and 
talked about some of the terrible things that some mothers do, and say, 
Well, mothers are terrible. We should get rid of mothers. That's 
  The reality is most immigrants are very hardworking people. They come 
here for a better life. They work hard. I want to read a few letters 
from pastors and priests and a rabbi that talks to this and puts it 
into the context of Scriptures because I think it is very important. 
Obviously they are here tomorrow because they read the Scriptures, they 
believe in the Scriptures, and that's why they're here tomorrow; and I 
want to put this debate within that context because I think that we are 
a very fair and merciful people. I think we are a God-fearing people. I 
think we need to put this immigration debate within the context of our 
faith communities, and so I'm going to read this letter.
  The first letter is from Father Scott Santarosa. He's the pastor at 
Dolores Mission Catholic Church in Los Angeles, California. He's a 
Jesuit. He addresses this letter to me and it reads like this:

       Dear Congressman Vargas,
       I applaud your enthusiastic support of comprehensive 
     immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. I 
     believe you are correct in stating, as you did before the 
     House of Representatives last week, that immigration reform 
     is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time.

  He says it's ``one of our most pressing moral issues of our time.''
  He goes on and says:

       The truth is there are numerous biblical reasons for 
     advocating for immigration reform. Indeed, our Judeo-
     Christian history as people is built on immigration, and 
     Jesus, who himself is the new covenant with us, calls us to 
     be compassionate to all.

  He goes on and says:

       Early in Genesis, we find God's exhortation to Abraham: 
     ``Leave your country, your people, and your father's 
     household and go to the land I will show you.''

  That's from Genesis 12:1.
  He goes on and says:

       God makes a promise to Abraham to make him a great nation. 
     It is a promise of a better life, a better future.

  Again, a quote from the Bible:

       ``I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; 
     I will make your name great, so that you will be a 

  Genesis 12:2-3.

       This is God's calling his people to immigration as their 
     pathway to greatness, and we of Christian and Jewish faith 
     cannot deny that our roots are built on immigration, on God's 
     call to us to be migrants.
       And once we arrive at our destination, we cannot rest 
     there, but we must remember what it was to be immigrants, to 
     be aliens. God instructs us, His people, ``to love those who 
     are aliens for you, yourselves, were aliens in Egypt'' 
     (Deuteronomy 10:19) and to treat strangers by providing a 
     place of rest, food, and hospitality: ``Let some water be 
     brought that you may bathe your feet and then rest yourselves 
     under the tree. Now that you have come close to your servant, 
     let me bring you a little food that you may refresh 
     yourselves.'' (Genesis 18:4-5)

                              {time}  1850

  Scripture is clear on the treatment of the immigrant. We read this 
time and again in passages like the following:

       ``When an alien lives with you in your land, do not 
     mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as 
     one of your native-born.''

  I'm going to read that again:

       ``When an alien lives with you in your land, do not 
     mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as 
     one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were 
     aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.'' (Leviticus 19:33-

  Then Father goes on and quotes from Deuteronomy:

       ``Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, 
     the fatherless or the widow.''

  He then quotes Exodus 23:9:

       ``Do not mistreat the alien or oppress him, for you were 
     aliens in Egypt. Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know 
     what it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in 

  Father Santarosa goes on and says:

       Jesus himself is an immigrant, as very early in His life He 
     and His parents, Mary and Joseph, are forced to flee to Egypt 
     for His safety. We must understand that His heritage as a 
     Jewish person and as an immigrant informed His teachings on 
     how we are called to treat the other, in particular the most 
     vulnerable among us. Jesus goes so far as to say that how we 
     treat the least among us, namely, the immigrant, is how we 
     treat him: ``For I was hungry and you gave me something to 
     eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was 
     a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you 
     clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in 
     prison and you came to visit me.'' (Matthew 25:35-36). Jesus 
     clearly mandates that we are to treat the immigrant and the 
     alien as we would treat Jesus himself.
       Other New Testament readings after Jesus continue to 
     emphasize the just and humane treatment of our immigrant 
     brothers and sisters. First, we read that we, though perhaps 
     not actual immigrants, are called to see ourselves as people 
     who have no home here on Earth, that our destination is 
     beyond this world: ``But our citizenship is in heaven, and 
     from it we also await a Savior'' (Phillipians 3:20) and 
     ``Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away 
     from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.'' (1 
     Peter 2:11).
       And second, we are called to be just and fair in our 
     treatment of immigrants. ``Contribute to the needs of the 
     holy ones. Exercise hospitality.'' (Romans 12:13). ``Let 
     mutual love continue. Do not neglect hospitality, for through 
     it some have unknowingly entertained angels.'' (Hebrews 13:1-

  He goes on and says:

       In sum, as people of Judeo-Christian heritage, and as 
     people of faith, we cannot escape or get around Jesus' call 
     to exercise hospitality towards our immigrant brothers and 
     sisters. Jesus' call to love one another as He loves us 
     requires that we not simply do the least or the minimum just 
     to get by, for that is not how He has loved us. Jesus has 
     loved us to the maximum. So, also, we are called to go above 
     and beyond what could be expected in order to love others. In 
     this country, this would imply granting full citizenship to 
     our undocumented brothers and sisters. Less than this would 
     be creating a level of society that is devalued as persons, 
     and this would be in direct violation of everything that 
     Jesus teaches. To be a person of value in this democratic 
     country is to be a person with a voice, a person with a vote. 
     This is the democratic foundation of our country.

  He goes on and ends like this:

       Thank you for reading this letter to fellow leaders in 
     Congress. I, together with my parishioners of Dolores 
     Mission, and with 26 other multi-faith congregations of Los 
     Angeles, and 1 million families in 150 cities of this country 
     which make up PICO, am praying for your good discernment as 
     you propose to enact an immigration reform which is just and 
     humane, rooted in our faith and biblical values.
       Gratefully and faithfully yours,
       Father Reverend Scott Santarosa, S.J., Society of Jesus, 

  I want to thank Father Santarosa. I want to let him know that 
tomorrow he will have help here. He will have plenty of help from the 
evangelical ministers and pastors that will be here tomorrow on hand to 
open up the hearts and the minds of those that are not yet convinced 
that we have to have a humane, a just, and a merciful immigration 
reform package. And I thank him.
  The second letter that I'd like to read is from Father Sean Carroll. 
Father Sean Carroll is the executive director at the Kino Border 
Initiative for Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. He also 
addresses the letter to me and says this:

       Dear Congressman Vargas:
       Since 2009 I have been working with deported migrant men, 
     women and children along the U.S./Mexico border. These past 4 
     years I have witnessed firsthand their brokenness in body and 
     spirit when they are deported due to days and weeks in 

[[Page H2117]]

     and forced separation from their spouses and children. I have 
     held the hand of the mother separated from her children in 
     Chicago, and listened to the father deported away from his 
     two children in North Dakota. I have been present with the 
     mother so far apart from her children in New York and with 
     the son seeking to be reunited with his mother in Central 

  He goes on and says:

       I know God calls us not to oppress the widow, the orphan 
     and the stranger (Exodus 22:21-22 and Deuteronomy 27:19) and 
     yet I have been a witness to how we essentially make widows 
     out of women migrants when we deport them away from their 
     husbands in the United States. I am also keenly aware of how 
     we turn U.S. citizen children into orphans by repatriating 
     their migrant parents to Mexico and placing their sons and 
     daughters in foster care. And I see the ways we reject the 
     stranger in our midst, the person seeking a better life for 
     themselves and their families, the one who in the Gospel of 
     Matthew (25:35-40) reflects the presence of Jesus himself.
       What would happen if we accepted God's invitation to 
     remember the moments that we were in exile (Exodus 22:21), 
     the times when we felt like strangers, and to recall how God 
     has led us through those experiences to new life? My memory 
     of God's action in my own struggles and challenges compels me 
     in gratitude to put this Word of God into practice in the 
     here and now, to support a path to citizenship for our 
     undocumented sisters and brothers, to reunify family members 
     separated due to mixed immigration status, and to provide 
     some ways for people that come to work in the United States 
     with dignity and with their human rights respected.
       Jesus quotes the book of Isaiah (61:1-2) when He opens the 
     scroll and says, ``The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because 
     He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has 
     sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of 
     sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim 
     the year of the Lord's favor. Today, this scripture has been 
     fulfilled in your hearing.'' (Luke 4:16-19; 21). I firmly 
     believe that God has given us the gift of His Spirit, the 
     same Spirit that Jesus breathed on His friends when he rose 
     from the dead (John 20:19-22). It is a spirit that empowers 
     us to make the promise and command of the word, God's word, a 
     reality, by working for comprehensive immigration reform.

                              {time}  1900

  He concludes by saying this:

       Please count on my prayers for you and the other Members of 
     Congress, as you follow God's word on this issue of great 
     importance for us as a country and as a people of faith.
       Sincerely yours in Christ,
       Reverend Sean Carroll, Society of Jesus
       Executive Director
       Kino Border Initiative
       Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

  Thank you, Father Carroll. I appreciate that very much.
  Father Carroll very poignantly says that our policy today makes 
orphans out of children of migrants.
  Recently, I had the opportunity in San Diego to listen to a young 
lady who is very accomplished in her short life. I believe she's 17 
years old. She's very excited about going to college next year. She 
attends the Preuss School. It's a magnet school at UCSD. She has very, 
very good grades and is excited about college. We're very excited for 
her. She started off with a great tempo and we thought wow, this is 
going to be a great story. She's a lovely young person. She was telling 
her story and we were all excited to listen and hear what was going on 
in her life. And then she stopped for a moment, sort of an awkward 
cadence, and started crying. She said, Of course, my parents have just 
been deported. She said she didn't know what to do because her parents 
had been deported.
  It really was a shocking moment to me to listen to her because she's 
an American citizen, she was born here, but her parents are 
undocumented immigrants. Right at the moment of great accomplishment, 
the moment of great pride for her, and I'm certain for her parents, her 
parents are pulled away, not because they're terrible, not because they 
have done anything wrong other than try to provide a better life for 
themselves and for their daughter, but because they're undocumented.
  The good thing is that we have a chance to do something about this. 
We have a chance to pass immigration reform that's merciful, that lives 
up to the values that we hold dearly in this country. And so I'm very 
excited about this reform. I'm very excited about tomorrow, frankly. I 
have to be honest and say I've always been in favor of immigration 
reform. I thought that President Reagan got it right, that we should 
have a humane policy towards immigrants. I think he was following 
certainly the Good Book. I appreciate Ronald Reagan, and I appreciate 
all those that felt like him previously.
  I've always thought that we should have immigration reform that makes 
sense. But not everyone was always convinced of this. In fact, a few 
years ago, I had a conversation with a pastor in San Diego who was 
pretty sour on the notion that we should give an opportunity for the 
people that came here without documents to stay. We got into a heated 
but loving discussion. I do love the pastor. He's a great guy. But we 
got into somewhat a heated discussion. I said, I don't see how this 
tracks the Bible. I know the Bible pretty well. I studied to be a 
priest myself for 5 years. So I certainly read the Good Book and am 
humbled by what's in there. I said, I challenge you to go through there 
and find a place that criticizes the immigrant, that criticizes the 
stranger. Because it's just the opposite.
  Anyway, we got into a theological discussion. And we remain friends. 
I met him again recently and he told me that he was praying for me and 
for the rest of us in Congress to pass a very comprehensive, just, 
merciful reform package. And I said, Pastor, I remember our 
conversation. He says, Yes, so do I. He said, I was wrong. I said, What 
happened? He said, I want to say it was simply the Bible. I read it. 
But the reality is my congregation has changed. We evangelize. That's 
our mission. I'm an evangelizing preacher here, and in my 
evangelization I have brought in people who are undocumented. And 
they're wonderful. They come, they pray. They make my church a better 
place. Some of them have married, he mentioned two people, in fact, who 
were in the Navy, the people in his congregation. He says, I've 
changed. I was wrong about them.
  So I thank the evangelical churches, most of whom now are ardent 
supporters of immigration reform, a comprehensive immigration reform 
that's just, that's merciful, that leads to citizenship so people are 
not second-class citizens. I want to thank them.
  Tomorrow, I know that they're going to have an opportunity to mix 
among us Congress Members and senators. And I hope that we have an open 
heart to receive them and to receive their words because I think 
they're here on a good mission.
  I would like to read a letter from Mark Potter. He is the Provincial 
Assistant for the Social Ministries at the California Province, Society 
of Jesus, the Jesuits. And it reads like this:

       In the Hebrew scriptures the story of Israel is a story of 
     a people on the move, called by God to migrate and to become 
     strangers in strange lands, motivated by God's promise of 
     something better--a better life, a better future: ``The Lord 
     said to Abram: `Go forth from your land, your relatives, and 
     from your father's house to a land that I will show you.' '' 
     This is how the people of Abraham wound up in Egypt, where 
     they were forced into captivity. The Egypt experience of 
     being enslaved because they were immigrants became for Israel 
     the touchstone of God's command to treat aliens with 

  And they certainly have. And I thank the Jewish community. I know a 
number of rabbis in San Diego, and they are the first people to defend 
immigrants in such a strong way. And I thank the Jewish community. That 
faith community is one that has always had the immigrant at heart. I 
thank you from the bottom of my heart.
  It goes on with a quote from Deuteronomy:

       ``So you, too, should love the resident alien, for that is 
     what you were in the land of Egypt.'' Care and hospitality 
     for the stranger became a hallmark of Jewish ethics, law, and 
     culture, famously invoked dozens of times throughout the 
     Hebrew scripture as the particular concern for the ``widow, 
     the orphan, and stranger in your midst.'' Living according to 
     these values became for Israel a sign of fidelity to God's 
     laws. Violating this concern for the widow, the orphan, and 
     the alien became reasons for God's judgment against his 
       Exodus 22:20-22:
       ``You shall not oppress or afflict a resident alien, for 
     you were once aliens residing in the land of Egypt. You shall 
     not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and 
     they cry out to me, I will surely listen to their cry.''
       Leviticus 19:33-34:
       ``When an alien resides with you in your land, do not 
     mistreat such a one. You shall treat the alien who resides 
     with you no differently than the natives born among you; you 
     shall love the alien as yourself; for you too were once 
     aliens in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God.''

[[Page H2118]]

       Deuteronomy 27:19:
       ``Cursed be anyone who deprives the resident alien, the 
     orphan, or the widow of justice! And all the people shall 
     answer, `Amen.' ''

  He goes on and quotes a number of passages from the Bible. And then 
he concludes his letter by stating this:

       The most literal reference to care for the stranger is 
     found in the famous story of the Final Judgment in Matthew 
     25, where Jesus instructs His followers about how they will 
     ultimately be judged by how they treated the most vulnerable: 
     ``The King shall say to those on His right, `Come, you who 
     are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for 
     you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and 
     you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a 
     stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill 
     and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' '' 
     (Matthew 25: 34-37)

  Tomorrow we will have, again, the opportunity, and I hope that we all 
take the opportunity to meet with the pastors that are going to be 
here, the evangelical churches.

                              {time}  1910

  I would like to quote a pastor who wrote very eloquently. He is a 
doctor, Pastor Dr. Richard Land, outgoing president of the Southern 
Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and 
executive editor of The Christian Post. He writes:

       Southern Baptists have gotten to know immigrants as 
     brothers and sisters in Christ. It has put a human face on 

  He also pointed out that Southern Baptist churches now include 
several hundred thousand Hispanics as a result of their evangelization 
efforts. An Hispanic pastor told Reverend Land that he estimates that 
as many as 40 percent of those Southern Baptist Hispanics probably do 
not have legal status in this country.
  So I am very excited about tomorrow. I know that Dr. Pastor Richard 
Land and others are praying for us. They're very excited about coming 
and speaking to us and opening up our hearts and our minds and making 
sure that we do the right thing, which I'm sure we will do--I'm hoping 
we will do.
  The last letter that I'm going to read is a letter that was actually 
written by Rabbi Laurie Coskey, executive director of the Interfaith 
Committee for Worker Justice, and Pedro Rios, chairperson of the San 
Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and director of the American Friends 
Service Committee. The letter is addressed to the San Diego Council, 
which just last week unanimously approved a resolution in support of 
comprehensive immigration reform.
  I would note that the San Diego City Council is made up pretty 
equally of Democrats and Republicans, and here they put aside 
partisanship and they strongly passed a resolution in support of 
comprehensive immigration reform. So this is the letter that Rabbi 
Laurie Coskey and Mr. Pedro Rios wrote:

       Dear San Diego City Council, we are writing to you today 
     representing ourselves and the myriad of organizations that 
     have worked within our city to support immigrants and 
     refugees over many decades. Over the years, in the spirit of 
     good faith, we have urged our City Council members to take a 
     stand with immigrant and refugee communities who live and 
     work in the city of San Diego.
       As the conundrum of our broken immigration system has 
     affected all of us in profound ways, many times over the 
     years the City Council of San Diego has been at the forefront 
     of human rights issues that affect the people living and 
     working here. We come to you now, recognizing the importance 
     of your voice.
       Today, we stand at a unique moment in history, where the 
     Federal Government has recognized that the immigration laws 
     and policies are no longer of benefit, and that they are 
     stretching to craft a new comprehensive immigration policy 
     that we pray will be generous, humane, and transformational 
     for those who live and work here.
       As the leaders of the largest border city in the United 
     States, we passionately urge you to take a leadership stand 
     by passing a bipartisan resolution in support of reasonable 
     immigration policy reform.

  In parenthesis, they did, they did exactly that. They did it 
unanimously. And I thank the San Diego City Council--every member, the 
Democrats and the Republicans. Thank you. Thank you deeply for that.
  They go on and say:

       Because of the prominence of San Diego, your bipartisan 
     resolution can serve as an example and as a model to the 
     Federal legislators that the benefit of such policy change 
     demands bipartisan collaboration and agreement in order to 
     pass sweeping immigration policy reform. To put it simply, by 
     working together quickly, you may teach the Congress what 
     bipartisan collaboration can actually accomplish.

  They did exactly that. They acted together; they acted swiftly; they 
acted unanimously; they acted compassionately. I hope we do the same.
  They go on and say:

       Additionally, your action will encourage immigrant and 
     refugee community members and their supporters by 
     demonstrating that their city representatives understand and 
     support the call for reforming immigration laws.
       We all recognize that in recent years the failure of 
     Congress to reform immigration laws has led to great 
     hardships for too many people who live in fear. In San Diego, 
     we have witnessed the devastating impact of the broken 
     immigration system. Families have been torn apart in 
     immigration raids; immigrant workers are silent in the face 
     of abusive labor practices; distrust has generated fear for 
     immigrants, who otherwise contribute to the social fabric of 
     our communities; and the current immigration laws have led to 
     an unbalanced focus on enforcement.
       To be sure, the city of San Diego would not be America's 
     finest city without numerous ways that immigrant and refugee 
     communities contribute economically, culturally, and 
     socially, from the agriculture fields in northern San Diego 
     County to the tech industries, and adding to the cultural 
     vibrancy that make San Diego an attraction to people 
     around the world.
       As a border city, San Diego is uniquely positioned to 
     address immigration issues and to offer insight into what 
     reasonable immigration reform might look like. A resolution 
     might address the need to improve the port's infrastructure. 
     It can address human and civil rights implications and 
     enforcement mechanisms. It can advocate for a broad and 
     inclusive pathway to citizenship without burdensome 
       As representative organizations and coalitions, we urge you 
     to adopt a resolution that supports a reasonable and 
     comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

  It's signed, Sincerely Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Educational Doctorate, 
Executive Director, Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice; Pedro 
Rios, Chairperson, Director of the San Diego Immigrant Rights 
Consortium and the American Friends Service Committee.
  I want to thank Rabbi Laurie Coskey for this letter. I also want to 
thank Pedro Rios for coauthoring this letter.
  I have to say that one of the reasons that I'm up here reading these 
letters is that there are a lot of people that want to be heard out in 
the Nation about this issue of immigration. From this podium, day after 
day after day, they've only been hearing the negative voices, the 
parade of horribles, the instances when immigrants have failed or have 
even committed horrible crimes, and some have. But unfortunately, it 
has been somewhat of a less than veiled attack on all immigrants, 
especially those that came to this country for no other reason but to 
better their lives and to work very hard so their children could have a 
better life. That's the American Dream. That's the American Dream for 
all of us, for our children, that we can have a better life.
  I want to read now from President Ronald Reagan. Again, many of us 
are very proud of Ronald Reagan. I will give Illinois their due, he was 
from there originally, but the reality is he's a Californian. If you 
look at the statue here in Statuary Hall, he's here as a Californian. 
So I'm very proud of him. As a Democrat, I've always been very proud of 
him. I say that, and some of my Democrat friends, they get a little 
nervous about that. The reality is I'm very proud of him. I didn't 
agree with everything, obviously, but I agreed with his humanity.
  I think we will see that in some of these quotes. I think what made 
Reagan a great person and a great President was that he didn't stick to 
some of the tired dogma of others. Instead, he led us forward as a 
great President. I quote him:

       Unless the United States makes a more sensible and 
     efficient system for admitting legal migrants who come to 
     take advantage of work opportunities, no reasonable level of 
     enforcement is likely to be enough to resolve this illegal 
     immigration problem.

  How true he was. How true he is still.
  I also agree with former President Reagan when he said the following, 
referring to the Immigration Reform and Control Act, again, the 
Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986:

       We have consistently supported a legalization program which 
     is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless 
     thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to 
     come to America.

[[Page H2119]]

  You know what? Ronald Reagan was generous. I hope that each and every 
one of us can have that spirit of generosity, that magnanimous spirit 
that he had.
  I'm going to quote him again and continue with his quote:

       The legalization provisions in this act will go far to 
     improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide 
     in the shadows without access to many of the benefits of a 
     free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women 
     will be able to step into the sunlight, and ultimately, if 
     they choose, they may become Americans.

                              {time}  1920

  I thank Ronald Reagan because I think he was very generous. It's very 
interesting how many Republicans are running away from his legacy on 
this, his legacy of generosity. You shouldn't be running away from it; 
you should be running towards it; you should be running to it. You will 
be like him if you have that spirit that he had, the spirit of a 
generous soul.
  I know I have a few minutes left here, and I thank the Speaker very 
much for the opportunity that they've given me here. Normally I don't 
speak this long, but I thought it was important to come and hear 
another voice, not just the voice that condemns the immigrant, a voice 
that says there's millions and millions and millions of Americans out 
there, in fact, a great majority now, that want comprehensive 
immigration reform that's just, that matches up with our values of a 
generous people.
  This is a statement of citizenship from the evangelical churches. 
This is the evangelical statement of principles for immigration reform.

       Our national immigration laws have created a moral, 
     economic, and political crisis in America. Initiatives to 
     remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling, 
     in which opponents have misrepresented each other's position 
     as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. 
     This false choice has led to an unacceptable political 
     stalemate at the Federal level at a tragic cost of human 
     life, at tragic human cost.

  As evangelical Christian leaders, they say:

       We call for a bipartisan solution on immigration that 
     respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the 
     unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, 
     guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to 
     taxpayers, establishes a path toward legal status and/or 
     citizenship for those who qualify and those who wish to 
     become permanent residents. We urge our Nation's leaders to 
     work together with the American people to pass immigration 
     reform that embodies these key principles and that will make 
     our Nation proud.

  There's heads of the evangelical immigration table, and it's very, 
very lengthy. In fact, I'm not going to go through and read it. I was 
tempted to do that because day after day I heard a few people come in 
here and you'd think that everyone in the United States was against 
immigration reform. In fact, just the opposite.
  I could read that Leith Anderson, President of the National 
Association of Evangelicals; Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of the 
World Relief; David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World; Noel 
Castellanos, CEO of Christian Community Development Association--I 
could go on and on and on because this thing goes on for pages. My 
trustee staff gave me pages and pages and pages of leaders in the 
evangelical churches that have signed on to this, so I won't go on and 
read all the names.
  But I will say this. I believe we will come to an agreement on 
immigration. I do believe that. I honestly believe that. I do believe 
that the prayers that the faith communities are directing towards us, 
and especially towards the immigrants, are going to be heard. I believe 
that. I believe it deeply that this time we won't fail, that this time 
will be different, that this time, in fact, we will pass a law that is 
just, a law that treats immigrants as we're supposed to treat them, as 
it says in this Good Book. As our values as Americans, I think that we 
will have a just, a merciful immigration law, and I'm very excited 
about it.
  I wanted to end with a story of a young woman that came and testified 
in California last year. I spoke about it in California and I want to 
speak about it here, because it's one of those incredible tragedies in 
life, and I called it, ``Two Days in Mexicali.'' And, unfortunately, 
for many of us Californians, when we think about 2 days in Mexicali or 
2 days in Tijuana, it's normally not the 2 days that I'm going to speak 
about here.
  Instead, this was a young lady. This was a young lady who was born in 
Mexicali. Her mother was a prostitute and a drug addict. They lived in 
Los Angeles. The mother had been born and raised there. She went to 
Mexicali and then had a child in Mexicali.
  She abandoned the child there, and this child's grandmother went and 
found her, brought her back to Los Angeles. And the grandmother was, I 
suspect, a very Christian, devout woman, and raised this child in a 
beautiful way, because for 13 years she developed into a very 
successful student and a very nice person.
  We got to meet her because she was, I guess, 19 years old. She had 
turned 19, and she had not known that she was an undocumented person 
because that never came up. So, instead, she lived her life thinking 
she was an American citizen. Then she applied for college. And at that 
point, we hadn't changed the law yet as they had in Texas to allow an 
undocumented person to get in-State tuition or to get any kind of 
financial aid; so even though her mother was a prostitute and a drug 
addict who abandoned this little girl, this little girl grew up to be a 
wonderful person, and then the law oppressed her by not allowing her to 

  We have a chance to change that for her and for so many other people. 
And I hope we listen to the pastors tomorrow, our evangelical brothers 
and sisters that are going to come tomorrow to pray for us, to pray 
that we open up our hearts, pray that we will see the immigrant as the 
stranger in Matthew 25, that we will treat them in a way that is humane 
and that cherishes our values as Americans.
  Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity today to 
speak. I think this is a very important issue, an issue that I have 
great faith in God that will be resolved according to our best values; 
and our best values are those of mercy.
  I thank you very much, and I yield back the balance of my time.