Washington Review, October 9, 2015
While in Washington this week, I attended several events as part of Hispanic Heritage Month and met with representatives from a trade association.
Moderating CHCIâ€™s Immigration Summit on Dreamers.
September 15th to October 15th marks National Hispanic Heritage Month. During this time, we celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestry came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. To recognize the importance of the Hispanic community, I took part in several events in Washington this week.
Earlier in the week, I moderated the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's (CHCI) Immigration Summit on Dreamers: What the Future Holds. This session highlighted the latest developments with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. Participating in this event were U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Leon Rodriguez, and a panel of experts.
I enjoyed engaging with the panel and entering into detailed dialogue about the challenges and opportunities facing Dreamers. While DACA and DAPA are critical programs to families in our community and across the country, they do not have as significant of an impact as comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform in June, 2013. Since then, the House of Representatives has prevented any immigration reform legislation from coming to a vote. Passing comprehensive legislation would be a positive step toward mending our broken immigration system; it would protect families, reaffirm our values, advance our ideals, grow our economy, and honor our history as a nation of immigrants.
Continuing events recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, I took part in an event hosted by the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force. At this event, which was co-hosted by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senators and participants discussed topics that are important to the Hispanic community, including: immigration reform, voting rights, corporate diversity, and criminal justice reform. I enjoyed having further discussions on issues affecting Hispanics in the 8th District by joining fellow members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation at this event.
The National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) visited me in Washington to support the legislation affecting their industry. The NCMA is the national trade association that represents the producers and suppliers of concrete masonry products, including concrete block, manufactured stone veneer, segmental retaining walls, and articulating concrete block, many of whom are based out of Northern New Jersey.
This week, I joined colleagues from both sides of the aisle in signing a discharge petition to force a vote on reauthorizing and funding the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). The EXIM Bank is an independent, self-sustaining Executive Branch agency with a mission of supporting American jobs by facilitating the export of U.S. goods and services. It is unfortunate that Americans are losing jobs a result of the majority party's failure to bring a bill to reauthorize and fund the EXIM Bank to a vote.
For months, members of both parties have been urging the leadership to allow for a vote on this common-sense reauthorization. Since the majority shut down the Export-Import Bank on June 30th, American businesses have been feeling the impact on their ability to create jobs and compete globally. I implore Congressional leaders to bring reauthorization legislation to the floor in order to protect jobs, grow the economy, and keep America competitive in the global market.