Congresswoman Speier is horrified that our broken immigration system forces individuals and families into the shadows and abuses their basic human rights. She is a longtime advocate for comprehensive immigration reform to provide stability for the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, grow the workforce we need for a thriving economy, make our immigration courts more impartial and independent, and ensure that America remains a refuge for those fleeing persecution, violence, and oppression.
California’s 14th Congressional District has a rich history of immigration and Congresswoman Speier is herself the daughter of an immigrant. She understands that our country was built by the hard work, determination, and dreams of those who came to America in search of a better life. Unfortunately, today’s America fails to live up to the ideals that drew people to seek opportunity and safety within our borders. The Trump Administration’s cruel and punitive policies have wreaked instability and fear across immigrant communities and fomented a full-blown humanitarian crisis on our Southwest Border.
To conduct oversight of conditions at Department of Homeland Security (DHS) border facilities, Congresswoman Speier led two congressional delegations to South Texas. In 2018, she observed firsthand the heartbreaking impact of the President’s “Zero Tolerance” policy of forcibly separating families. She consoled mothers at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility who had no information about their children and visited a tender-aged child shelter that housed toddlers and babies separated from their parents. Families belong together, yet this Administration’s callous policies ripped apart families with no plan for reunification or concern for the long-term impact on children’s growth and development. As the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Colleen Wright, said, these conditions “can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress – known as toxic stress – can carry lifelong consequences for children.”
On her most recent trip in July 2019, she crossed into Mexico to meet with migrants camped near the border as they waited to ask for asylum in the United States. On both trips, she was deeply horrified by overcrowded and inhumane conditions at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding and processing facilities. She published an op-ed detailing the shameful conditions she saw at the border to spur desperately-needed reform. Through her position on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Congresswoman Speier has also fought for accountability for the abuses she’s witnessed.
Congresswoman Speier is also committed to promoting justice and compassion in interior immigration processes. In 2018, the U.S. spent a staggering $24 billion on immigration enforcement – 34 percent more than it spent on the other federal law enforcement agencies – including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – combined. At the same time, ICE has engaged in an aggressive deportation agenda under the Trump Administration, prompting accusations of violations of due process and human rights. Congresswoman Speier knows that a government that views every immigrant as a threat to national identity and security cannot possibly administer a fair immigration system. She believes we must curb ICE’s discretion and immediately increase transparency and accountability around its enforcement activities.
Congresswoman Speier is also a strong advocate for reforming the immigration detention system, a multi-billion-dollar industry that profits from the mass detention of immigrants. The two largest prison companies with ICE detention contracts – which donated a quarter of a million dollars to a pro-Trump super-PAC in 2016 and contributed a combined total of $500,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund – have netted hundreds of millions of dollars from DHS contracts since Trump took office. Congresswoman Speier included a provision in her sweeping ethics bill, the RIGHT Act, to change this pay-for-play mentality and incentive for the Administration to detain immigrants by preventing companies that benefit from government contracts from donating to inauguration funds. She is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2415, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, which would reform the circumstances under which an immigrant can be detained, improve conditions in detention centers, and phase out the use of private immigration detention facilities and jails.
Congresswoman Speier is a longtime champion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has provided relief to 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and call America home. She has been outspoken in her condemnation of the Trump Administration’s attempts to strip DACA recipients of their protections and has highlighted the contributions of Dreamers in California’s 14th Congressional District. Rep. Speier is a cosponsor of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would prevent the deportation of DACA-eligible individuals and potential Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and create a pathway for citizenship. She was proud to vote for H.R. 6 when it came to the House floor in June 2019.
As vulnerable populations around the world continue to look to the United States for safe harbor, Congresswoman Speier will push for a return to refugee admission numbers that reflect our obligation to alleviate suffering and set the tone for an international response to the global refugee crisis. She has co-signed letters to the Trump Administration opposing record-low refugee caps that present a wholesale rejection of American values. Rep. Speier also opposes the Administration’s backwards policies that hamstring our asylum system and reduce the ability of asylum seekers to qualify for protections. She is a cosponsor of H.R. 262, the Asylum Seeker Protection Act, which would invalidate the President’s Remain in Mexico policy that forces asylum seekers to return to Mexico and remain there until their cases are considered.
Congresswoman Speier is also a member of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, which works to find sensible solutions to the issues that plague our immigration system and particularly focuses on the rights of immigrant women and children. She is also a member of the bipartisan Congressional Refugee Caucus.