Washington Review, June 28, 2018
The action in Washington continued this week as Congress attempted another vote on immigration legislation. Both the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs reviewed numerous pieces of legislation in markups, and I met with delegations from around the world to discuss critical issues that affect our communities.
After the failed attempt at passing immigration reform last week, the House once again voted on a so-called compromise immigration bill which lacked necessary steps towards solving our country’s immigration crisis. Specifically, H.R. 6136, the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act, provided no permanent path to citizenship for DREAMers and instead tied their protected status to sustained border funding. Additionally, the bill would have continued prolonged family detention, did not address the root cause of the family separation crisis, eliminated broad visa categories, and revoked millions of previously approved citizenship petitions. Lastly, the bill would have complicated the process for asylum seekers. I vehemently opposed this bill. H.R. 6136 ultimately failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 121 to 301.
I am deeply concerned by the ongoing actions at the border, and sent a letter with 77 of my colleagues to Secretary Azar of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Director Lloyd of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) demanding answers about the alleged mistreatment of detained children currently under their care. My colleagues and I also requested a member-level briefing regarding the family separation policy enacted by the Administration to get definite answers on exactly how this policy is being executed.
Additionally, I have cosponsored several pieces of legislation to address the immigration crisis. H.R. 6236, the Family Unity Rights and Protection Act, would require the reunification of children who were separated from their families and H.R. 6172, the Reunite Children with their Parents Act, would also direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to immediately reunite children with their asylum-seeking parents. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 3923, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act. This bill would repeal mandatory detention, and require the development of enforceable detention standards. Finally, I cosponsored H.R. 6260, the Restoring Oversight for Members of Congress Act, which would give Members of Congress immediate access to federal facilities, such as immigration detention facilities.
Though the President issued an executive order purporting to end family separation at the border, there are more issues that demand Congress’ immediate attention and it is my hope that my colleagues can reach across the aisle to begin developing bipartisan solutions to this crisis.
The Foreign Affairs Committee this week considered nine pieces of legislation that examined diverse issues in international affairs. One such resolution, H. Res. 256, expresses support for NATO and our Eastern European allies. NATO is a key channel through which we can protect our allies from hostile influences, such as Russia. The Committee also reviewed H.R. 5576, the Cyber Deterrence and Response Act of 2018, which would enhance our nation’s cyber security by establishing a framework through which to address cyberattacks. All of the bills marked up in committee today were passed and await further action on the House Floor.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also held a markup this week looking at legislation that in part aimed to promote flood risk mitigation, enhance maritime safety, and research innovative storm water infrastructure. All measures under consideration by the Transportation Infrastructure Committee this week were reported out of Committee and now await further action on the House Floor.
It was my honor to welcome King Abdullah II of Jordan back to Capitol Hill. Jordan is a critical partner in maintaining stability in the Middle East and is uniquely situated to act as a mediator on a number of regional issues. We discussed the continued importance of strong U.S.-Jordan cooperation.
Later, I spoke with Jordan Rodas, the Human Rights Ombudsman of Guatemala. We discussed the importance of the United States’ continued support for anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala and the Northern Triangle, as a way to strengthen the rule of law and protect human rights. These initiatives are not only critical for protecting the rights of Guatemalans, but will also have lasting impacts right here at home. Supporting anti-corruption efforts in these countries will improve their economies and make their neighborhoods safer, allowing us to work together to address the root causes of migration so families are no longer forced to flee drug cartels and gang violence.
AIPAC also stopped by my office to discuss ways to strengthen our relationship with Israel and I later spoke with representatives of the Armenian National Committee of America about the priorities of the Armenian American Community and how Congress can help.
Thank you for reading the Washington Review. Again, hearing from my constituents enables me to be a better representative of the 8th District. For regular updates, you may stay in touch by leaving comments on my Facebook, Twitter, and website.