Jeffries Leads Congressional Black Caucus Special Order Calling For Immigration Reform
WASHINGTON - On February 4, 2013, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) led a Special Order with Rep. Steven Horsford (NV-4) on the need for immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. They were joined by Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11) and Reps. Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Marc Veasey (TX-33), and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10).
“Sometimes the immigration reform debate has been characterized as perhaps just a Latino issue, at other times it’s been characterized as perhaps an Asian issue. There are times the immigration reform debate is characterized as an eastern European issue,” Jeffries said. “Immigration reform is an American issue. It cuts to the heart of who we are and what we will become.”
The special order came on the heels of the Senate’s release of its principles for immigration reform, as well President Barack Obama’s recent policy address on this issue in Nevada. Both included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while strengthening our economy.
In the past, many members of Congress insisted that immigration legislation had to first address securing our borders and streamlining our naturalization process. Since 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency has significantly increased its presence along our borders.
Jeffries emphasized the substantial upsurge in the Customs and Border Protection budget and amount of agents since President Obama took office in 2009. “Six years ago, there was a call for at least 20,000 border protection agents. Right now, there are 21,400 border protection agents. Six years ago, there was a call for a fence to be constructed along the Southern border approximately 670 miles long − although our border security folks have said they believe a fence would be adequate that is 652 miles long − 651 miles of which have already been constructed. There was a call for video surveillance assets − these are cameras and radar − deployed along the borders of this country. Six years ago, the call was for 105 such video surveillance assets. Mr. Speaker, right now, there are more than 250 deployed in the United States of America. We have met or exceeded the security benchmarks that have been set.”
Jeffries' Colleague, Rep. Yvette Clarke from New York’s neighboring Ninth Congressional District said, “The warden of a broken system does not encumber one group of citizens alone. If we turn our backs on those law-abiding contributors to our civil society that come to our shores only to embrace the American dream, to labor and rebuild our nation and strengthen our economy, to serve honorably in our military, we turn our backs on ourselves and on our future.”
“It's estimated that there are 3 million black immigrants in this country contributing to our nation’s fabric. Approximately 400,000 are undocumented. Who are these immigrants of African descent? Some are from the Caribbean, two-thirds of which are from nation states such as Jamaica, Trinidad, and Haiti. Others are from the continent of Africa. They are from countries like Nigeria and Ghana, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea,” said Jeffries. He also noted, “We need to find common ground and figure out how we can advance immigration reform that incorporates the unique values and skills that immigrants from every corner of the globe bring to the United States.”
Click here to watch the entire Congressional Black Caucus special order: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4351227&newclip
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Today, the House Judiciary Committee held its first major hearing of the 113th Congress on immigration reform. To watch the hearing, please click here: House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Immigration.