(House of Representatives - March 27, 2019)

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[Pages H2831-H2832]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Phillips) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. PHILLIPS. Mr. Speaker, the clock is ticking and thousands of 
Minnesotans are running out of time. Business owners are going to lose 
their workforce, workers are going to lose their jobs, and children are 
going to lose their parents, and it will be because we here in Congress 
failed to take simple action when we were called to make change.
  We have been handed a game-winning layup or, in Minnesota terms, an 
empty net, and all we have to do is tap in the puck. All we have to do 
is say to our Liberian population who came here fleeing bloody civil 
war and the terrors of the Ebola virus: You matter; you are doing 
everything right. The world took everything from you, and you came to 
our country. You work hard, legally, you pay your taxes, and you are 
valued members of our community.
  But because we gave Liberians an immigration status DED, that does 
not allow a pathway to citizenship; and because that status expires now 
in 4 days, these friends, neighbors, and family members will be subject 
to deportation, and it will tear our community apart, and it will be on 
  Mr. Speaker, I recently heard from Nicole Mattson, a healthcare 
employer in senior care back in the Twin Cities: ``We don't have enough 
workers. At my facility, 60 percent of employees are immigrants, and 
over half of those are Liberians. We would have to say good-bye to a 
pool of talent that is highly skilled and educated.
  ``I have no idea why we would leave behind such a critically 
important group of people to the healthcare industry. Very simply, we 
cannot do the work, we cannot care for people, we cannot care for 
seniors without them. We need them here, and we are glad they are 
  Mr. Speaker, I would say that we need courage to pass a legislative 
fix to save Minnesota's healthcare industry and keep hardworking 
members of our population home. I would say that we need courage to 
keep our families and communities and brothers and sisters together. 
This is so simple and so easy, that we do not even need courage. We 
just need to pass a bill.

[[Page H2832]]

  These are immigrants who have done everything the right way: They are 
here legally; they work hard; they pay their taxes; and they have made 
themselves irreplaceable contributors to our communities.
  Their immigration status has been extended by every President from 
Bill Clinton to Donald Trump. These would be undocumented citizens of 
our very own creation.
  If you need the human argument, hear it from my constituent, Michael: 
``Going back to Liberia is not an option for me. My only brother, who 
we were not able to bring to America, died in Liberia a few years ago. 
My parents and siblings all live here in the United States.
  ``I was recently accepted into a doctoral program in education. My 
whole life is here. This is my home. Liberia is a fragile country still 
recovering from a decades-long war.''
  Or Matthew, who could lose his older brother: ``It affects me deeply 
as a U.S. citizen. This is someone I look up to. If he was to up and 
leave the U.S., that would be very difficult for him, for me. He has a 
daughter. I cannot take on that responsibility of being my niece's 
  ``I cannot even imagine the nightmare that this will create in my 
community. This is not just about me and my family; it is about our 
community. We are going to be losing friends and family. I am not ready 
for this.''
  We have the legislation. We have a fix ready to go to move DED 
holders to TPS for 3 years while we pass a more comprehensive fix.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I say to my colleagues, ask yourselves: Are we here 
to make a difference? Are you here to make people's lives better? Are 
you here to help business owners and workers, or are you here to keep 
playing politics with people's lives?
  Let's rise to the occasion and be better than that and finally, at 
long last, give our Liberian community the peace of mind that they so 
richly deserve.