COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 5
(House of Representatives - January 10, 2019)

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[Pages H369-H370]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Escobar) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ESCOBAR. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to proudly deliver my first 
floor speech as the new Representative for Texas' 16th Congressional 
  Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a resilient, beautiful community 
along the U.S.-Mexico border, I am a proud fronteriza and know 
firsthand the realities of the border.
  That is why I have been profoundly disturbed by the rhetoric and 

[[Page H370]]

from this administration. I will use my time to tell you the truth 
about the border, the opportunity she represents, and the need for 
comprehensive immigration reform.
  El Paso, like other border communities, is one of the safest 
communities in the country, with a rich history made strong by our 
bicultural, binational character. Our people are generous, 
compassionate, and kind.
  We share a border with our sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, 
Mexico. This border unites our families and our values, and it promotes 
commerce and trade. The border has never been safer or more secure.
  El Paso already has a wall, but we were safe long before it was 
constructed. The truth is that additional border barriers will not 
address the real challenges that we face. Instead, I hope to work with 
my colleagues in this Congress to achieve comprehensive immigration 
reform, address the root causes of migration, and value immigrants as 
critical to building our economy and our country.
  According to the Pew Research Center, there were an estimated 10.7 
million undocumented immigrants living in the United States in 2016. 
Some came when they were small children, seeking refuge in our country, 
and, today, have limited protection under the Deferred Action for 
Childhood Arrivals program. Others have been here for decades under 
temporary protected status, establishing businesses and cultivating 
deep roots in communities across the Nation.
  It is unsafe for them to return home because of ongoing strife in 
their home countries, but this administration decided to terminate 
protections for them anyway. The majority of others live in the 
shadows, afraid to avail themselves to assistance because of our 
current immigration climate.
  Life for immigrants and asylum-seeking families, unfortunately, has 
gotten increasingly worse since January 20, 2017. This administration 
has cruelly separated a reported 2,654 families at the border, and 
these are only the families that we know of.
  It has built tent prisons for children; teargassed immigrants near 
ports of entry, including many women and children; criminalized 
migration and prioritized detention; and attempted to drastically 
curtail the number of immigrants coming into our country.
  Further, this administration's unlawful asylum ban on migrants who do 
not enter at ports of entry has strained our border crossings. Due to 
metering at ports, a practice that limits the number of people who may 
enter the U.S. each day, families are sometimes pushed out to more 
dangerous and deadly crossings.
  I hope we will investigate whether metering contributed to the tragic 
deaths of two young Guatemalan children, Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe 
Alonzo-Gomez. These policies and practices are inhumane and un-
  Building walls and sowing hate divide us as a nation. Instead, we 
must focus on reforming our immigration system to ensure a safe and 
humane process.
  For example, we must create a pathway to citizenship for DACA and TPS 
recipients; make investments in additional personnel and infrastructure 
at our ports of entry where most illegal drugs flow; hire more 
immigration judges and grant them Article I independence in order to 
address the backlog of cases and ensure due process; overhaul training 
for CBP and ICE agents that will boost safety and increase oversight, 
transparency, and accountability; and end the criminalization of 
migration, especially that of asylum-seeking families.
  Above all, families belong together and should not be detained, 
especially when there are cost-effective, humane alternatives.
  Finally, for any of my colleagues who think that the border is 
unsafe, I invite you to my district to see it for yourself.