(House of Representatives - June 07, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 97 (Wednesday, June 7, 2017)]
[Pages H4690-H4693]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Gabbard) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

                             General Leave

  Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include 
extraneous material on the subject of my Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Hawaii?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, our current immigration policies are 
hurting families, tearing them apart, and deporting people who are part 
of the very fabric of our communities.
  I have a few people in particular I plan to talk about and whose 
stories I will be sharing, but first I yield to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. O'Rourke ), my colleague and friend.
  Mr. O'ROURKE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentlewoman from 
Hawaii for yielding to me and for her leadership on this issue. I 
served with her for 2 years on the Homeland Security Committee of the 
House of Representatives and saw her ability to balance the national 
interests and capitalizing and maximizing the opportunity that 
immigrants provide and have always provided to the United States while 
ensuring that we protect the homeland and our sacred commitment to 
every person and family that we represent to make sure that they are 
  I think that the community that I have the honor of representing in 
Congress, El Paso, Texas, is a case in point. We are one of the safest 
cities in the United States today.
  If you use the FBI's crime statistics as crunched by CQ Press, they 
routinely rank El Paso, Texas, the safest city in not just the State of 
Texas, but in the United States. For the last 20 years, we have been 
the safest, second safest, or third safest in the country. That is not 
in spite of the fact that we are connected with Mexico--our sister city 
is Ciudad Juarez--and it is not in spite of the fact that 24 percent of 
the people that I represent were born in another country, most of them 
in Mexico.
  In fact, our security, our success, our strength is connected to the 
fact that we are a city of immigrants, that we are connected to the 
rest of the world through our shared border with Mexico, and that 
understanding that is critical to preserving the security and public 
safety which is such a critical part of our job. I will give you an 

[[Page H4691]]

  Not too long ago, under this administration, a woman who was an 
undocumented immigrant from Mexico was in an El Paso County courtroom 
seeking a protective order because her boyfriend threatened her life. 
The judge in that courtroom granted that protective order, and as that 
woman was leaving the courtroom, she was apprehended by a plainclothes 
Border Patrol agent. That has never, to my knowledge, happened in our 
community in the El Paso County Courthouse.
  The consequences of that are not just that this one person was taken 
off the streets and placed into detention and custody. The consequence 
is that we have fewer people from the immigrant community in El Paso 
coming forward to serve as witnesses to crimes, to report crimes in the 
first place, to testify, to take part in the criminal justice system in 
a way that has kept our community safe.
  By definition, today, because of that one act, because of the climate 
of fear and intimidation and anxiety produced by this administration, 
El Paso, Texas, the State of Texas, this country is less safe.
  If we want to respond to the most urgent issue that each constituent 
of ours depends on us for, that is their safety, their security, that 
of the community and the country that we serve, then we need to make 
sure that we treat everyone within our communities that we represent 
with dignity and respect. We need to make sure that local law 
enforcement is not seen as a tool of Federal immigration law, but that 
they are there to preserve and to protect the peace and to serve the 
constituents and the people who live in those communities.
  I would also add that next week marks the fifth anniversary of the 
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program implemented 
under President Obama. It was an important step that this country took 
to realize the gains that we and future generations will receive by 
ensuring that those young people who arrived on our shores and through 
our land ports of entry like El Paso, through no fault of their own, at 
the tender age of 5 or 6 years old and who are now in school or want to 
serve in our military or want to create jobs themselves are able to 
stay here and flourish so that we receive the benefit of their 
  I hope this Congress, every colleague from both sides of the aisle, 
will work with me and others to ensure that we have, if not 
comprehensive immigration reform, which I think should remain the goal, 
reform in those areas like for the DREAMers and the DACA beneficiaries 
that is most urgent and to the States that we represent and serve, like 
Texas, with 200,000 DACA beneficiaries out of 700,000 nationwide. It is 
the right thing to do for our security. It is the right thing to do for 
economic growth and job creation. It is the right thing to do in the 
best interests and traditions of this country.
  So I conclude by again thanking the gentlewoman from Hawaii for 
leading this discussion on this critically important issue, and I thank 
her for the privilege of being able to speak tonight.
  Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his leadership and 
his commitment to not only the families and the people in his district, 
but to the challenges that many families are facing all across the 
country, and I look forward to continuing to work with him on these 
  Some of these challenges that face families across the country touch 
my constituents in Hawaii as well. I would like to share a few of their 
stories and their challenges here today in the hopes that Congress and 
this administration take action and do the right thing for them and for 
our country.
  We are a nation of immigrants. Andres Magana Ortiz's story is not a 
new one. It is not one that will surprise anyone.

                              {time}  1730

  In fact, it will be quite recognizable to most of us. No tradition is 
as American as telling the stories of our relatives and ancestors who, 
against all odds and great difficulties, found and made a home here on 
our shores.
  But while our family histories remind us of how far we have come, 
Andres' story demonstrates the progress that we have yet to make and 
who is hurt and affected by the lack of that progress today.
  Andres Ortiz came to Hawaii seeking the American Dream. With hard 
work, perseverance, and a little luck, Andres demonstrated what we, as 
Americans, know to be true and that we strive for: if you work hard, 
you can succeed and get ahead.
  Andres started a new life in 1996 picking coffee--backbreaking, tough 
work, for anyone who has done it before--in the Kona region on the 
island of Hawaii. He proved himself smart and capable, and he was soon 
promoted to supervisor. By 2010, he saved enough to buy his own coffee 
farm. Today, he owns 20 acres of coffee trees, and manages another 150 
acres for his neighbors.
  Andres quickly earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and skillful 
farmer. When an invasive beetle, called the coffee berry borer, began 
to ravish our Kona coffee farms and trees, Andres began a pioneering 
system to help his community track and eradicate this infestation, even 
before our U.S. Department of Agriculture took action. Now, this 
infestation was not just a small matter. It was something that cost our 
farmers millions of dollars.
  Our country offered Andres the means to become an entrepreneur, and 
he paid us back in full: he started a business, he creates jobs, he 
takes care of his workers, and he is a leader in our community. Andres 
is not a legal resident of Hawaii, but Hawaii owes him a debt for his 
  Managing the coffee farm is a family affair for Andres. He is a proud 
husband and father of three children. His wife and kids are all 
American citizens, and his kids only know Hawaii as home.
  Andres embodies the spirit of the American Dream, and serves as an 
example of why we should welcome courageous, hardworking immigrants 
into our community. The reality that Andres faces now, sadly, is far 
  If Andres is deported to Mexico, as is supposed to happen in just a 
few days, his family, their farm, and Kona coffee growers are going to 
face an uncertain future. Without Andres to run the business, his 
family could lose their farm and lose their home. Their neighbors will 
lose a friend and a business partner. Brenda, his wife, will be without 
her husband, and their three children will be without their father.
  If Andres is forced to leave, the law will keep him from his family 
for 10 years. Should the family move to Mexico with Andres, they will 
have to learn a new language and a new culture. His daughter will have 
to drop out of college at the University of Hawaii and begin a new life 
in another country. Relocating to Mexico would deprive them of the 
benefits afforded to the citizens of this country.
  Now, unfortunately, Andres's story is not a singular one. 
Unfortunately, there are more.
  Just last week, Graham Ellis of Waimea, a 67-year-old British 
national and leukemia patient, heard a knock on his door. It was two 
Department of Homeland Security agents who have come to begin the 
deportation process back to the U.K. after Graham had made Hawaii his 
home for over 36 years. After a few short minutes of conversation in 
front of his wife, Dena, who is an American citizen, Graham agreed to 
turn himself in at a field office in Honolulu the following day.
  Now, like Mr. Ortiz, Graham is a pillar within our community in 
Hawaii. But unlike Mr. Ortiz, Graham had already made the decision to 
return to the U.K. because he feared that deportation was inevitable 
under the heightened threats faced under our current immigration 
policies. Graham had made the decision to leave by the end of summer, 
thinking that these remaining months would give him time to get his 
affairs in order, and say good-bye to the community and the home that 
he grew to love for so long.
  A circus performer by training, Graham spent much of his life in 
Hawaii teaching children from low-income and at-risk communities circus 
arts, bringing smiles and laughter to their faces and their lives.
  He served on the Puna Community Council, and was the founding 
president of the Kalapana Seaview Estates Community Association.
  In his remaining final months, he had planned to make a trip to 
Kauai, where he would instruct his last group of young, passionate 
students at a 2-week

[[Page H4692]]

superhero-themed circus camp before shutting it down for good.
  Our immigration system is broken. We need a pathway to citizenship 
for immigrants to ensure people who deserve to be here can find a way 
to be a part of our great country. We need real immigration reform that 
keeps families together and integrates hardworking, tax-paying 
immigrants into our community. We need to preserve, protect, and 
restore the values that underlie the greatness of our country.
  I stand with Andres and Graham and the millions of hardworking 
immigrants who built our great Nation; and I stand with these 
immigrants who live in my community, who live in my district, and who 
have a proven record of upstanding contributions to our community.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Soto), my 
  Mr. SOTO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from the beautiful 
State of Hawaii for yielding to me, and I thank her also for being a 
champion of immigrants, both in her State and across the Nation.
  It is Immigrant Heritage Month this month, and I think it is critical 
that we take a few moments to talk about the state of immigration here 
in the United States. I can't do that any better than by talking about 
a few stories of what I have experienced over the past few months.
  On January 27 of this year, we saw President Trump sign his executive 
order, quite expeditiously, on a travel ban that specifically targeted 
the Muslim community, with seven countries, where 90-plus percent of 
the population practice Islam.
  It was an interesting moment for me. My wife and I were having dinner 
with a few friends of ours in the district, and one of them had asked 
me: Well, how is this ban going to affect you? How is it going to 
affect your district?
  At the moment, I wasn't really sure, but then I got a call only a few 
minutes later by my district director. Our first constituent was 
identified as coming back on a United Arab Emirates flight back from 
Iraq and was scheduled to land the next morning: a girl who had 
graduated from the University of Central Florida and lived a very 
productive life as a legal resident in central Florida for the last 6 
years after her graduation.
  So we went the next day--early the next morning because, if anything, 
my legislative experience in the State legislature has told me: go to 
where the action is, go to where the controversy is, and do what you 
can to help.
  First, we went to Customs and Border Protection, and we got no 
response. We actually got surprise responses of what were we even doing 
there, because this was not a matter they were prepared to handle.
  So we went to the airport and were greeted by Greater Orlando 
Aviation Authority officials who were very helpful and understood that 
these were central Floridians who had been flying for 20 hours and were 
just about to arrive back into Florida, where they lived.
  That morning, I also met a young man who was a citizen from an area 
just north of the district, who was waiting for his two parents to come 
in on the same Emirates flight. We found out that the constituent and 
the two parents were three people who were held back and questioned.
  Throughout the day, we would get updates, but what we found out is 
there was very little information because there was very little 
understanding by Customs and Border Protection about how to implement 
this very vague order. The court had just ruled that it was potentially 
  So working with our local officials after hours of building up, hours 
of waiting with the families, hours of press starting to arrive, hours 
of TV coverage, and hours of protest, right when we were in the middle 
of doing interviews, that is when the families were finally released, 
after 7 hours of being questioned without water, without food, after a 
20-hour flight.
  You could not have scripted this to make the point of how misguided 
this ban was than what happened. Right in front of TV cameras from 
across central Florida, first, the two parents came down--parents of a 
citizen who hadn't seen his parents in over 5 years.
  The scene was traumatic: crying, hugs, and welcomed by cameras 
wondering what had happened to these two individuals. These were simply 
two citizens of Iraq trying to come over to visit their son, who had 
already been given visas to come on over.
  A few minutes later, our constituent finally arrived as well. She 
also had been held for 8 hours without water, without food, after a 20-
hour flight, and a barrage of questions.
  After that, we saw public opinion change sharply in central Florida 
as people saw these were the alleged people that were getting extreme 
vetting: people who were visiting their son in central Florida, 
longtime residents, who only had productive lives in central Florida.
  A few weeks later, we had the deportation force memo come down. I was 
shocked. We sent out letters to our sheriffs, we sent out letters to 
our schools, asking if they were planning on participating in this 
deportation force that President Trump had called upon to help 
implement and enforce our immigration laws.
  We called immediately a round table, where we invited immigrant 
groups, we invited law enforcement groups, and so many others to talk 
about the issues that were happening.
  Two of my three sheriffs immediately said they weren't planning on 
participating, that this was a Federal issue. A third ended up going 
from fully participating to, a day later, walking back that position, 
to just picking up folks who had been accused of violent felonies.
  Then our schools responded very quickly after they were posed with a 
scenario--a situation that was going down the very same day: a citizen, 
a young woman of Mexican descent, whose parents were also legal 
immigrants, was asked in front of their classmates about her status.
  Afterwards, there were a lot of finger-pointing and excuses that 
these were questions that were being levied to determine whether she 
needed to participate in the ESEA program. But at that moment, it was 
just more of this anti-immigrant rhetoric that was coming out of so 
many areas in central Florida.
  But like that incident, which was covered at length, minds and hearts 
changed in central Florida. There was an apology given to this young 
woman who was a citizen, and they changed the policy so that no one 
would be asked about immigration status in front of their peers, even 
if it was for something as harmless as the ESEA program.
  With our sheriffs clarifying their policies to not join this DHS call 
for deportation force, we were proud once again to have an inclusive 
society in central Florida where we welcome everybody. We are such an 
international community, home to the best theme parks in the world, a 
world-class convention center and hotels, and we welcome everybody from 
across the globe.
  Then, in addition, I just received a letter from a constituent. Her 
daughter had grown up, gotten a job, fallen in love, and had a bright 
future ahead of her. But she worried because her daughter's boyfriend 
potentially could be deported because he is on an H-1 visa.
  These types of policies breaking up families don't serve any interest 
in helping people pursue the American Dream and don't serve any 
interest in protecting our economy and protecting growth in central 
Florida, where we have such a large cattle industry and where we have 
such a large citrus industry.
  Finally, we have so many DREAMers, young students, who live in 
central Florida, who are working and striving, rising up in our 
society, and helping people along the way, immigrants who potentially 
could be one of 40 percent of creators of Fortune 500 companies that 
have been created here in America, one of the 65,000 servicemen and -
women who are immigrants, who serve in our United States military. And 
we find that, with every 100 immigrants, we are creating 120 new jobs 
because our country has been founded and created on growth and 

                              {time}  1745

  So I would like to see a few things happen, things that I believe 
Democrats and Republicans can agree on. First, let's make sure to 
ratify the DREAMer program, the Deferred Action program. You have 
bipartisan cosponsorship for this bill. This is something we could get 
done, especially for

[[Page H4693]]

our veterans and those serving in our U.S. military.
  In addition, I believe that we need to relook at the H-1 visa 
program, the farmworker program. We need to acknowledge the reality 
that we have had for the last 150 years of agriculture here in the 
United States, which is that we rely on many of our immigrants coming 
from Mexico and Central and South America to help with our agriculture. 
This has been going on for over a century.
  What we can do is simply go from a 1-year to maybe a 3-year or 5-year 
program. I know our immigrants' rights community would support it. I 
know our agriculture communities would support it; and we wouldn't have 
people unwittingly not getting back to their country of origin after 
the 1-year visa expires, when they just want to go back and come back 
again to help out as seasonal labor.
  Then thirdly, there is an arbitrary cap on highly skilled workers 
here in this country. We train them in Ivy League schools, in brilliant 
schools in Texas, California, Florida, and across this Nation. And 
then, because of an arbitrary cap that no one wants to change because 
of the hot-button issue of immigration, then we send them on their way, 
back to their countries of origin, rather than keep them here and 
harness their talent for the future of our economy.
  Canada has even got word of this and welcomes these folks. When they 
realize their visas are up, they beg them to come to Canada to help 
start new businesses.
  So these are some of the ideas that we can fix, that we could all 
agree on, that both parties can agree on. And of course, in the end, we 
need a comprehensive immigration reform. But, in the meantime, let's 
get some things done that we all agree on and move our country forward.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Hawaii, one of the most 
beautiful States of the Union, for her leadership.
  Ms. GABBARD. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend from 
Florida for complimenting my State, but for, most importantly, again, 
putting a face and names to those who are suffering as a result of our 
broken immigration policy.
  You know, for us here, we can stand here and talk about policies and 
debate them and talk about legislation that needs to be passed. But it 
is really those folks at home who make it all very real. It is not just 
a bill number, it is their own family that is being torn apart, it is 
their own children who are being affected.
  Now, you know, I talked about Mr. Ortiz in Hawaii. He and his family 
are going through this, as we speak, where, in just a few days, he 
faces being deported. He and his family have exhausted all the options 
available to them, given the time that they have.
  Our delegation from Hawaii, both my colleague, Congresswoman 
Hanabusa, as well as our Senators, Senator Hirono and Senator Schatz, 
we have all sent a letter to Secretary Kelly, Department of Homeland 
Security, urging him to reconsider this order and to halt Mr. Ortiz's 
deportation, taking a consideration to him and his circumstance and his 
longstanding commitment and leadership in our community.
  I have introduced legislation, H.R. 2794, which is what is called a 
private bill, specifically for the relief of Andres Magana Ortiz. And 
the purpose of this bill is to help Mr. Ortiz with his extremely 
challenging situation and to help him on his own path to citizenship.
  I urge Chairman Goodlatte to give positive consideration to this bill 
that has been referred to his committee. I urge Secretary Kelly, the 
Department of Homeland Security, to revisit their policy and their 
decision and to put a halt on Mr. Ortiz's deportation. He is not just a 
number. He is not just a statistic. He and his family are facing this 
reality today.
  It is always the right time to do the right thing, and I urge these 
leaders to do that right thing.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.