THE CRISIS AT OUR SOUTHERN BORDER; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 126
(House of Representatives - July 25, 2019)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.


[Pages H7446-H7451]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   THE CRISIS AT OUR SOUTHERN BORDER

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2019, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Garcia) is recognized 
for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority leader.


                             General Leave

  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, to begin Special Orders, I ask 
for unanimous consent that Members may have 5 legislative days to 
revise and extend their remarks.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Illinois?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank 
Representatives Pocan, Porter, Tlaib, and Jayapal. We are here today to 
call for justice for immigrants. We are here to put a spotlight on 
President Trump's harmful attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers.
  Since President Trump took office, he has implemented some of the 
harshest and most racist immigration policies in our country's history. 
Trump is also repeating one of the worst themes in our history, that of 
relentless attacks designed to divide our country. Trump wants people 
to think that brown and black immigrants are not worthy of compassion, 
legal due process, or human rights.
  Despite organizing in our communities, the Trump White House has 
continued to push forward its anti-immigrant agenda. As an immigrant 
myself, the stories break my heart and make me really angry.
  A year ago, the separation of families and the caging of children 
shocked the conscience of Americans. A year later, we all mourned the 
deaths of Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Angie Valeria, who 
were found on the edge of a river embankment, both drowned in an effort 
to reach the promise of America.
  We used to think that sharing vulnerable images of the deceased 
children would elicit our deepest emotions and that would be enough for 
change, but even after the deaths of Oscar and his daughter, children 
continued dying at the hands of this administration, and nothing has 
changed.
  It is tempting to become desensitized. It is easy to believe that 
this is the new normal. This is anything but

[[Page H7447]]

normal. This is unprecedented. Whenever a scandal comes out or the 
President feels threatened, he comes after immigrants and those who do 
not look like him.
  It is unconscionable that the President has put lives, families, 
children, and communities in danger in a blatant effort to distract the 
media and our country.
  Today is an opportunity for my colleagues and me to, one, put a face 
on the people being impacted by these policies--people are real lives--
frame this as the agenda of a President and a party who seek to hold 
power by dividing Americans, and to remind our country that every 
attack is connected. This is all part of a broader agenda of hate.
  I now yield to the gentlewoman from Illinois (Ms. Schakowsky).
  Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Madam Speaker, I am really so proud and grateful to 
join you, Congressman Garcia. We are both from Illinois, and we see 
some of the same examples of the fear that is plaguing our communities 
wherever there are immigrants.
  And I want to tell you, I take this issue very personally. Neither of 
my parents were born in the United States of America, but they came 
here as small children with their parents, who made a really good life.
  My grandfather had a horse and wagon and actually sold vegetables in 
Humboldt Park, part of your district right now, carrying heavy bags of 
potatoes up and down the stairs.
  Four children, and they all went to college. They made a good life, 
and now his granddaughter is in the United States Congress.
  Well, I will tell you, my grandparents, my parents did not live with 
the fear that this President has brought to millions and millions of 
people and, of course, people in our district.
  I want to just tell you that exactly 1 week ago today, I flew home, 
landed at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, and heard that something was 
happening over at the international terminal, that there was now a 
crowd of people and there were children ages, I think it was 16, 10, 
and 9, minors, who were being held at the airport. These were citizen 
children.
  Why were they being held there? They came from Mexico. They had been 
there on vacation. They came with an adult relative of theirs who had a 
valid passport, but for some reason Customs and Border Protection sent 
that adult back to Mexico--we are investigating exactly why--and now 
said only the mother could pick up these minor children.
  Well, I get that, except that their brother, who is a DACA recipient 
older than them, an adult, came to pick them up, and they were not 
released. A lawyer was there with a signed affidavit witnessed by 
members of the consulate, the Mexican consulate. They would not release 
the children to her.

  By now, there was a crowd of people holding signs ``Release the 
children.'' They had arrived at about 3 in the morning. They were given 
two cots during the night, meaning one of those girls had to sleep on 
the floor.
  This is what is happening at the border, of course--mistreating 
children.
  So, finally, there was an agreement that was made: Okay, Mom will 
come. Guess what? Mom is undocumented. She was afraid to come, but she 
came, surrounded by the Mexican consulate, by the lawyer, by me, to 
make sure that she was able to take her children home.
  We heard that members of Customs and Border Protection said--and we 
are investigating this, too--that, if these were normal circumstances, 
that mother would have been detained.
  Understand, they would have detained the mother of citizen children 
who just wanted to travel to Mexico, come home, and go be with their 
parents.
  What is going on in the United States of America? We fear that 
children like that are being used to lure undocumented parents to the 
airport. That is what we fear. And this is just one example of one 
family, of one problem that had to be resolved.
  I am telling you, I am so heartbroken. I am going to the border on 
Wednesday, and I want to go see again for myself what is going on down 
there.
  But we have to say, no, this cannot happen. We are the country of the 
Statue of Liberty, the Statue of Liberty that welcomed my father and 
his family to this country, not the family of walls and fear and 
mistreatment and children dying in custody.
  No, Mr. President, this is not the America that we all deserve.
  And thank you, Congressman, for leading this discussion.
  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from 
Vermont (Mr. Welch).
  Mr. WELCH. Madam Speaker, I want to thank Congressman Garcia for 
yielding.
  I am from Vermont, and it is hard to be farther from the southern 
border in the United States than being in Vermont, but the question 
that people ask me in Vermont, really, more than anything else, is how 
is it that in the name of our government, under the authority of our 
flag, we have instituted a policy, since rescinded, to take children 
away from parents? How is that possible?
  The President talks about a crisis at the border. No argument about 
that; there is a crisis at the border. But is the right response to it 
that you separate families? Is the right response that you call the 
people who are coming gang members and rapists and killers?
  I went to the border, as well, and met many of the women and the men 
and the children who were there, and as you know better than anybody--
and, by the way, I really appreciate your leadership on this and the 
leadership of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus--the people who are 
there are there out of desperation.
  One woman I spoke to, who was from Guatemala, told us that she had a 
13-year-old daughter, and her husband had already been murdered, and 
the mother was told that her daughter was going to become the 
girlfriend of one of the gang members. It was that fear that made her 
leave her home.
  People do not want to leave their home, and they only do it when they 
absolutely have to to save their lives.
  She and her daughter set out in the night for the more than 1,000-
mile journey to the southern border. About two-thirds of the way there, 
the mother started getting nervous, hearing stories, wondering what it 
would be like, and said to her daughter: Honey, we have got to go back.
  The daughter looked at the mother and said: Mom, we can't. We are not 
safe. You are not safe, and I am not safe.
  They arrived at the southern border, and they make an effort to cross 
the bridge and are not allowed because of the go-slow policy and no 
capacity to ``process.''
  They wade across the river and turn themselves in, and their request 
is for asylum. That has been criminalized by the Trump administration. 
The daughter and the mother are separated.
  When we were with the mom, she didn't know where her daughter was. Is 
she a rapist? Is she a criminal? Is she an MS-13 member? She is a mom 
trying to protect her daughter. She is a mother who lost her husband 
already.
  Now, there is not an easy answer to that, and none of us suggest 
there is. But it is not the answer to say that anybody who is seeking 
to save their life, fleeing economic desperation, fleeing physical 
violence, seeking to protect a son or a daughter, is a criminal. They 
are asking for help.
  And it is a tough question: How much help can we give? We have to 
have secure borders, but are we solving the problem by making it a 
crime to ask for help? Are we solving the problem by taking kids and 
separating them from their parents? Are we solving the problem where we 
cut aid off to the countries Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, 
where most of the people are coming from? The answer to that is no.
  And this is a hard problem, but it can't be resolved unless there is 
some mutual recognition on both sides that it is something we have to 
work together to try to address.
  There are refugees around the world. There are some refugees who are 
coming to our southern border. But this is becoming a worldwide 
problem, and it is a combination of factors of failed states, of 
environmental damage, of economic desperation; and we have to address 
this in a way that we acknowledge the obligation we have to one 
another.
  So my hope is that the President, whose leadership on this is 
absolutely

[[Page H7448]]

essential, tones it down and acknowledges that this is an issue that we 
have to work together to solve, and it is not just the heel of the boot 
that is going to solve it, not just the punitive measures of taking 
kids from parents that is going to solve it, not just cutting off aid 
to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador that is going to solve it.
  We are ready to work, and we need to work because it is, more than 
anything else, essential that we acknowledge the responsibility all of 
us have, whatever our policies are, to treat people humanely.
  Madam Speaker, I thank Mr. Garcia so much for his work on this, and I 
pledge to continue working with the gentleman every way I can.

                              {time}  1845

  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I thank Congressman Welch, 
Congresswoman Schakowsky of Illinois, and the Congressional Progressive 
Caucus for allowing me to lead this conversation.
  The remarks of the previous speaker are a good segue to some 
background information from a historical context that I will share in 
the rest of the proceeding.
  Migrants are escaping some of the harshest regimes in Central 
America, where political and economic turmoil have generated abject 
poverty, abuse, and violent crime.
  Unlike many previous waves of immigrants, Central Americans are not 
arriving for purely economic reasons or to pursue the American Dream. 
Instead, they are coming to seek safety and the chance to live without 
fear of death, rape, or abuse.
  Those coming to our border now are families, newborns, children, and 
pregnant women escaping life-or-death situations as well as poverty. 
These deeply rooted causes and push factors help explain why so many 
Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans are fleeing their countries and 
heading toward the U.S.
  El Salvador. El Salvador has been trapped in a cycle of violence that 
can be traced back to its civil war, in which the U.S. was complicit.
  The MS-13 gang, which many politicians like to talk about, and 
frequently referred to by the President in justification of his 
hardline immigration policies, was actually formed in L.A., in Los 
Angeles, California, and introduced into El Salvador when its members 
were deported, often to a country they barely knew.
  Guatemala also comes out of a great conflict in that country. Jakelin 
Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in El Paso in 
December from cardiac arrest caused by severe dehydration and shock, 
was forced to leave her home due to severe poverty. Her relatives 
explained that her father did all he could to stay in the land, but 
necessity made him try to get to the U.S.
  Honduras. Gender-based violence is the second leading cause of death 
for women in Honduras. In a country where emergency contraception and 
abortion are banned even for rape victims, survivors of sexual violence 
have few options if they become pregnant. They can seek to terminate 
the pregnancy and risk prison time, or they can go through with it and 
face one of the highest maternal mortality rates in all of Latin 
America.
  As a parent, I understand and empathize with parents who will do 
whatever it takes to give their children a better life. When you have a 
gun to your head, people threatening to rape your child, extort your 
business, or force your son to work for the cartels, what would you do?
  Aid to the Northern Triangle region of Central America is a long-
standing pillar of American foreign policy supported by most Democrats 
and Republicans in Congress. Providing humanitarian aid to countries in 
the Northern Triangle will help stabilize those economies and lift 
millions out of poverty in the process.
  Establishing economic stability in those nations is at the root of an 
effective strategy to reduce the current surge in migrants seeking 
asylum and, ultimately, an effort to solve the root causes of the 
humanitarian crisis at the border.
  Despite this understanding from the State Department, the Trump 
administration is reducing aid. Annual assistance to Central America 
has declined by nearly 30 percent since fiscal year 2016. Funding is 
crucial to programs that focus on good governance, economic growth, and 
social welfare in the Northern Triangle.
  This is an issue of national security in our country and basic human 
needs and dignity abroad.
  Instead of receiving children and families with open arms, President 
Trump is cutting foreign aid for countries in the Northern Triangle, 
further exacerbating conditions there and ultimately feeding into his 
manufactured crisis at the border. Potentially hundreds of thousands 
more will be forced to make the difficult decision and head toward the 
U.S., and the administration knows this.
  Aid is not an immediate fix or the ultimate solution. An investment 
in the region can, however, help mitigate violence, corruption, and 
poverty, which can help over the long term.
  The State Department's recent announcement to put $180 million on 
hold, to divert further funds, will impact political stability and 
economic opportunities in those countries and, therefore, the push 
factors affecting migration.
  President Trump was right when he declared a crisis at the border. 
What he failed to explain is the role this administration has played in 
aggravating the situation.
  There is real suffering. Every day, refugees arriving at the southern 
border are being detained and held in inhumane conditions, children 
locked in cages and infants dying in our care.
  The bottom line is very simple. The President has made the crisis at 
the border significantly worse, and it will only intensify with cuts in 
foreign assistance to the Northern Triangle.
  President Trump is waging an assault on all fronts against immigrants 
and asylum seekers and a full assault against the very morals and 
founding principles of our country, principles of acceptance, 
inclusiveness, and refuge for those who seek its shelter.
  In the interior, for Americans living away from the border, it can 
often seem like the President's assault on immigrants and asylum 
seekers is a distant issue we see on the news, but the truth is that 
the President's terrorizing of communities extends to our backyards, 
our schools, our neighborhoods, and our church congregations throughout 
the country.
  I want to take a moment to share a story and give a face to the 
problem. Without understanding our own personal stake in the well-being 
of our friends, coworkers, and neighbors, we cannot fully grasp the 
extent of the President's assault. Nothing we do in these Halls is 
worth debating if we are not willing to understand how our decisions 
ultimately affect people's lives.

  ICE raids are happening not only at the border. These government 
actions that separate families and tear children from their mothers are 
happening in well-established immigrant communities around the country, 
including many in my district in Chicago.
  Francisca Lino, a mother and grandmother from Chicago, is living this 
reality as we speak. She is married to a U.S. citizen. She has three 
U.S.-citizen children and other grandchildren.
  A law-abiding, hardworking woman who had never received even a 
parking ticket in her life received an order of deportation under the 
Trump administration. As a result, she was forced to seek sanctuary in 
a church, where she has been living for the past 2 years. During this 
time, besides being away from her children and husband, she also missed 
the birth of her grandson Diego.
  Confined to a space that welcomed her but is not by any means 
suitable for someone to live without the possibility of ever going out, 
Francisca and her family are asking for our help.
  If she ever tried to step out for a moment, she can be sure that she 
would be caught by ICE officials, who are constantly surveilling the 
church.
  Her decision to fight back against Trump's cruel immigration policies 
have taken a toll on her family. Her daughters have suffered emotional 
trauma, but that is not all. As a provider for her family, the void she 
left when she took sanctuary has been felt economically as well.
  In my district and around the country, there are many people like 
Francisca who have been nothing but law-abiding, hardworking neighbors, 
contributing to our economy by paying taxes and supporting the 
community they live in.

[[Page H7449]]

  In return, however, many of our neighbors, who are no different than 
ourselves, save for the lack of certain papers, have been met with 
oppression from an administration that is hellbent on using immigrants 
as scapegoats to explain the deep-rooted problems in our country.
  It is up to Congress to point out the real problems and stop Trump's 
xenophobic and irrational policies.
  ICE raids throughout the country continue to terrorize families and 
communities, hurt our local economies and small businesses, and rip 
U.S.-citizen children from their parents.
  The President's assault on immigrants goes well beyond the border. It 
is terrorizing those all around us for nothing other than political 
gain.
  Blatant suppression of votes and intimidation of communities across 
the land: Recent news that the Census will be printed without the 
citizenship question is a victory for everyone in this country. This is 
especially important for historically undercounted groups, including 
communities of color, people living in large housing units, and 
immigrants.
  Every single person in our democracy counts and must be counted in 
the Census to distribute Federal funding and resources accurately. The 
Constitution is clear on this topic. The final Census count determines 
so much of our daily lives: new hospitals and schools, representation 
in government, funding programs like Medicaid. Ensuring everyone counts 
ensures funding for the programs our constituents need and for healthy 
neighborhoods.
  Recently released documents have proven what we already suspected, 
that the Trump administration announced the addition of a citizenship 
question in yet another attempt to disenfranchise and intimidate the 
immigrant community. It was a cheap political move to undermine the 
integrity of the Census.
  Is this person a citizen of the United States? A seemingly small 
question, but one with so many implications. This is especially true 
for children, including U.S.-citizen children living in mixed-status 
families, families that might avoid the Census for fear of their 
information being shared.
  Our fight to count every single person is not over. We still have a 
lot of work ahead of us.
  The back-and-forth of the citizenship question left many of my 
constituents scared and confused. This remains the administration's 
goal.
  While President Trump has backed down from his attempt to add a 
citizenship question to the Census, he is directing U.S. agencies to 
provide all information they have on U.S. citizenship. In other words, 
he continues to use any means of intimidation to threaten immigrants. 
When one method is blocked, he tries another.
  Ensuring a complete count on the 2020 Census is a fight we can win. I 
started working on it as a Cook County commissioner and will continue 
working to ensure that every single person is counted. Our 
representation, schools, hospitals, and healthcare depend on it.
  The President continues to weaponize his office in every possible 
way. We must fight back until we have justice for all and justice for 
immigrants.
  Madam Speaker, today, we have heard powerful stories and comments 
from my colleagues from all around the country about the countless ways 
that President Trump is driving an anti-immigrant agenda and 
terrorizing communities all around the country, whether it is the 
detention of American citizens, Trump ending asylum protections and 
eligibility, changes to the citizenship test, placing children in cages 
to send a message, or leaving women and children in inhumane conditions 
at detention camps.
  We must remember that this administration is not only hurting 
immigrants, but it is hurting citizens, mixed-status families, and 
entire communities, Black, White, Asian, and Latino.
  These harmful tactics may be aimed at a few, but they are harming us 
all.

                              {time}  1900

  Trump's assault on immigrants and asylum seekers is an assault on all 
Americans, an assault on our values of inclusivity, an assault on our 
history of welcoming the world's tired and weary. He is leading a full-
court press on the very soul of who we are as Americans.
  Deeply disturbing is the fact that we know that Trump's ongoing 
attacks on immigrants are deeply rooted in racism. We see it in the 
Muslim ban, we see it in the 2020 census citizenship question, and the 
public charge rule. Trump says that criminals, drug dealers, and 
rapists are invading our country casting a generalization over 
communities all over the land. That is false. It is the reason he wants 
fewer immigrants from s-hole countries and more from northern European 
countries like Norway, or so he has said.
  When a crowd chanted recently ``Send her back'' in response to 
Trump's attacks against my colleagues, we knew it was never about legal 
immigration. As an immigrant, I take this personally.
  When the President announced ICE raids, we know his intent was to 
deliberately terrorize Black, Brown, and immigrant communities.
  Livelihoods and families are at stake and many in the communities, 
like the ones I represent, were thrown into fear and trauma when the 
President threatened raids over Twitter.
  Parents today are forced to have tough conversations with their 
children to set up emergency plans in the event they would not return 
home from work. This is sad and tragic.
  While the President continues to attack immigrants and asylum 
seekers, I remind my constituents that this is not the time to be 
fearful or timid, this is the time to keep fighting, to act like 
courageous Americans, and those who aspire to be Americans, as well.
  We are a nation of many peoples and certainly of immigrants. America 
is and has been great, precisely because we have long welcomed 
immigrants with open arms and will continue doing so. To be American is 
to be of immigrant heritage, with the exception of our Native American 
sisters and brothers, all of whom have also suffered because of tactics 
to divide us by race, by creed, or by country of origin.
  Together, we are stronger than this President. And no matter how long 
this assault on immigrants and asylum seekers goes on, it is in our 
blood, as Americans, to never lose faith in the fight for equal human 
dignity and opportunity for all. We must fight until there is justice 
for all and justice for immigrants in America.
  If we are talking about Trump's assault on immigrants, we cannot 
leave out what the President has done to Dreamers. At the beginning of 
his administration, the President rescinded DACA under the authority of 
then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That action was the opening salvo 
in President Trump's assault on immigrants using the power of the Oval 
Office.
  The decision to end DACA and the DACA program was a direct attack on 
young men and women, all of whom were brought into this country through 
no decision of their own. Many came as babies.
  Many DACA recipients or Dreamers call no other country but America 
their home. Unfortunately, they have to work harder than anyone else to 
have access to the same opportunities afforded to their friends and 
classmates in the same country that we all love.
  That is the case of Elizeth Arguelles, a 23-year-old Dreamer from my 
district. She is also from my neighborhood of Little Village in 
Chicago. Elizeth is paying her way through college by making and 
selling tamales.
  At age 9, she learned to make tamales and started helping her mother 
sell them in the streets of Chicago. Since elementary school, she has 
been waking up at 3:30 in the morning to make the tamales before going 
out to sell them at 7:30.
  Elizeth will graduate from college next year, and we could say her 
story is a hallmark of success and American perseverance. Saying so, 
however, ignores the dark reality of her situation. Her story is, by 
all means, a picture-perfect example of America's spirit and hard work 
and perseverance. She deserves that credit.
  Her story, however, is far from a feel-good story. Rather, it is yet 
another example of how our political system has failed hardworking 
people in our country.
  Elizeth's success is hers alone. Our government has and continues to 
fail her by maintaining an anti-immigrant policy that fails to account 
for children

[[Page H7450]]

brought here against their own conscious will.
  It is a reminder that the Dream and Promise Act passed in the House 
of Representatives must be passed in the Senate immediately. Up to 2.5 
million immigrants across the country, people like Elizeth, would be 
eligible for protection under H. Res. 6, including 37,000 immigrants in 
Chicago alone.
  Through the Dream and Promise Act, Elizeth and her family and over 
85,000 people in my city who live in mixed-status families would have 
legal certainty.
  I applaud Elizeth's perseverance and determination to fulfill her 
dream of graduating from a 4-year university. But I also hope that the 
Members of the Senate are hearing the cries of aspiring young Americans 
who want to continue to contribute to our country, to lead our country, 
and to be exemplary citizens by giving them a path to legalization and 
citizenship.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson 
Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate 
the gentleman from Illinois, Congressman Garcia, not only for his 
legacy and leadership here in the United States Congress, but really 
for the work of reconciliation and friendship in the great city of 
Chicago, working with so many different groups and understanding the 
myriad of issues dealing with immigrants.
  Madam Speaker, I rise today to, first of all, say to my fellow 
Americans--that was something utilized by President Lyndon Baines 
Johnson. And I would think that, as he said it many, many years ago, 
America was less diverse--I use it now, because I think it is 
important in a Nation that is enormously diverse, that we, in fact, use 
the words ``fellow Americans,'' so that we cannot pit one group of 
Americans against another, these immigrants against those who are here, 
or those who have been immigrants that have come and now have either 
gotten status or been here for a long time. Let us not let the 
administration pit one American against another. We are, in fact, 
really our brothers' and sisters' keeper.

  When I think of immigrants, I think of every single person who has 
come to this Nation. They have come in many different colors and in 
many different eras. Yes, Native Americans were already here. Yes, 
African Americans came as slaves. But then, as the years passed, there 
were people of African descent who came as immigrants. There were Irish 
and Italians, there were people from Britain and Germany, and there 
were people from South Asia, Asia, and Asia Pacific. And, of course, 
there are those who have now come from the southern border.
  Why do we have the right to be able to demonize individuals who have 
come in a recent time, individuals who simply want an opportunity to 
work, to contribute, and, yes, to put on the uniform?
  I am reminded of Captain Khan and his wonderful family. Captain Khan 
was a Pakistani who died in the recent war in Iraq. He came here to 
this country. His family came here to this country.
  So, I join with my colleague to say that we must pass comprehensive 
immigration reform, but we must pass the legislation that includes the 
American Dream and Promise Act. We must recognize that we have to 
confront the issue of dealing with the treatment of those who have come 
most recently.
  How do we deny it, when those of us who have been to the border, for 
example, literally talked to persons who have said they watched their 
father being beat to death and they watched as the MS-13, who are 
wanted in that country, come to make them a member? How are you going 
to challenge that?
  How do you challenge a woman who got on the road and had her baby on 
the road because people in the neighborhood said she owed them money 
and they were going to kill her?
  How do you answer an aunt who went to the store and came back and 
found all of her nieces and nephews drugged and individuals in the 
house and all they had to do was escape for their life?
  So, I believe that standing here today is recognizing that there must 
be a solution.
  Let me share with you just some of the comments from a hearing that 
we had on the oversight of family separation and CBP short-term custody 
under the Trump administration.
  In March 2017, former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly 
announced that DHS was considering a proposal to separate families at 
the southern border as a means of deterring migration. And that is what 
they did.
  Today, it was indicated that they had not reunited every one of those 
children that had been separated. Who of us in America would welcome 
the idea of children being snatched from you? You wanted that child. 
This wasn't a situation of abuse. And then you come to find out they 
could not find you or find your child to reunite.
  In a September 2018 report, the DHS Inspector General found that DHS 
was not fully prepared to implement the administration's zero-tolerance 
policy or to deal with some of its aftereffects. Can you imagine that? 
They just didn't have the facilities to deal with this very detrimental 
policy.
  What about asylum? That is international law. That is a law that 
allows individuals fleeing persecution to come to any country and seek 
asylum under their laws. Under our law, if you are in credible fear, 
you could seek asylum. Those administrations that were reasonable 
recognized that domestic violence could be taken into consideration.
  But let us realize where we are: The Trump administration eliminated 
domestic violence right out and then wanted to eliminate the rights of 
those individuals to file for asylum. Just recently, a lawsuit said, 
no, Mr. President, you cannot do that. You cannot do that and deny the 
rights under international law and national law for these individuals 
to be able to use the process that has been granted to so many before 
them.
  And then, of course, this report from the Office of Inspector General 
that--in actuality, a report was made public on July 2, though it was 
given to the Department of Homeland Security much earlier than that, 
but I think this was a report on the CBP and BP facilities at the 
border. Let me recognize, of course, the need to provide resources.
  We voted on a $4.6 billion appropriations at the beginning of July to 
be able to help and to provide better resources. But one of the things 
that was said to the Secretary of Homeland Security: ``DHS needs to 
address dangerous overcrowding among single adults at El Paso Del Norte 
processing center.''
  And: ``DHS needs to address dangerous overcrowding and prolonged 
detention of children and adults in the Rio Grande Valley.''
  This is not Sheila Jackson Lee or Congressman Garcia, this is the 
Department of Homeland Security Inspector General's report.
  We are, in fact, our brothers' and sisters' keeper. We are many 
colors as immigrants. Africans are coming across the border, fleeing 
for their lives, seeking relief.
  All we have to do is to follow our laws to allow the asylum process 
to proceed and those individuals to be rendered a judgment that they 
can stay or not stay. And then to use our refugee resettlement and our 
humanitarian agencies to either help settle them in the United States 
or resettle them as they go back out of the United States.
  There's also the possibility of having an agreement that after their 
asylum has failed, if it does, that they can remain with opportunities 
in Mexico, which was originally spoken about.
  But since I have been to the place in Mexico where the policies of 
the President are to keep them in Mexico, I can tell you that Mexico at 
the border does not have the resources, does not have the housing, and 
does not have the jobs to take care of those individuals who are there.

                              {time}  1915

  Madam Speaker, I want to make it very clear, as I started out, my 
fellow Americans, on this floor, this particular Democratic Congress in 
the majority has recognized the importance of Americans.
  We have passed legislation to bring down prescription drugs costs, to 
protect against eliminating preexisting conditions, and to bring down 
insurance costs. We just passed the historic

[[Page H7451]]

$15-an-hour wage increase as Federal law. We are working on gun safety.
  We are working on issues dealing with Americans. But we must call our 
higher angels and recognize the responsibility of this Nation to 
address the concerns of its people.
  So, as I conclude my remarks, let me say that I hope that we will be 
able to work together on the 9,000 children who are held by the 
Department of Health and Human Services in what we call shelters, and 
to realize or to state--let me state it publicly to Health and Human 
Services, whom I worked with on the Obama administration--that these 
shelters do not belong to Health and Human Services. They belong to the 
people of the United States, funded with taxpayer dollars, and that 
means the Members of the United States Congress.
  No Member of Congress should be blocked from going into these 
facilities. No Member of Congress should be blocked from talking to 
these young people who want to talk to them and tell them that they 
have been in these centers for 3 months, 100 days. They are not 
supposed to be there that long. There needs to be a system put in place 
to expedite these youngsters. One youngster wants to go back home to 
Mexico. He is still there.
  So I want to put Health and Human Services on notice not to block any 
of us from coming in, facilitating how we are to interact with these 
young people, to provide them comfort and understanding of how we can 
move their cases along--not pull them out, not break the law, not 
disrespect the system, but to help the system, overloaded, choked down, 
not concerned, to move forward on behalf of these young people.
  I thank Congressman Garcia for giving me the opportunity to share 
some of my thoughts about how we have to fix the broken immigration 
system, which includes recognizing that many people who are here 
working, paying taxes, paying a mortgage, have come here through no 
fault of their own, and, as well, their families, who are here seeking 
opportunity.
  I believe that, together, in a bipartisan manner, we could really do 
this, as we have done for immigrants who have come to this country in 
the 1800s and the 1900s, and they have now integrated into our society.
  Let me thank the gentleman so much for his leadership on this.
  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Jackson 
Lee for her words.
  To close this evening, I want to call our attention again to what we 
are seeking to do in this Special Order hour, which is to again 
highlight and shed a spotlight on the administration's assault on 
immigration and asylum seekers that is taking place.
  I do it seeking to express the sentiment, the concerns, and the 
aspirations of, especially, immigrant groups in my district whom I 
represent.
  And who are they? They are people who have come from Asia, who have 
come from Germany, who have come from Ireland, who have come from 
Eastern Europe, who have come from Africa and the Caribbean, as well as 
Latin America, and even other countries.
  It is my hope that, as the House of Representatives begins its summer 
recess, this Congress and the White House will reflect on the Nation's 
great history of welcoming people who are fleeing oppression and, as 
Congresswoman Jackson Lee noted, that we allow our better angels to 
impact, to inspire, and to move us.
  As we continue our path, striving to become a more perfect Union, 
there isn't a better way forward than by embracing those who are 
fleeing persecution, those who are fleeing violence, and those who are 
fleeing terrible conditions in the countries that they were born in.
  I want to thank the Congressional Progressive Caucus for its 
assistance in arranging for this Special Order hour. I want to thank 
those who have joined me tonight to share their stories.
  Madam Speaker, we can and we must do better.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to refrain from 
engaging in personalities toward the President.
  Mr. GARCIA of Illinois. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my 
time.

                          ____________________