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Hearing of the Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee.


Location: Washington, DC


REP. JOE BACA (D-CA): Thank you very much, and thank you for allowing me to say a few words as chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The CHC, under the leadership of our Immigration Task Force chair, Mr. Gutierrez, has a long and a proud history of working on immigration.

We thank you. I, and the caucus, particularly want to say thank you for your services to us, to our country, and to those 12 million undocumented. I also want to thank you, Madam Chair, and the subcommittee for having this important hearing today on this vital important issue.

Immigration is critically important, not only to CHC, but to every immigrant, whether you're Italian, Irish, black, Asian. Our constituents across the country are very much concerned, and we take action. Whether it's a Hispanic small business owner, the family struggling to stay together while living in fear, or individuals whose dreams of life in the United States, only to be confronted with unrealistic processes fraught with delays, the communities we represent care about immigration reform.

Our community, our immigration system is broken, and I state, our immigration system is broken. People are suffering. People are suffering. As a result, this is an issue much more than Hispanic or immigrant issue. This issue is about an American issue. The fact is, our broken immigration system is hurting our economy and making our nation less secure.

As such, CHC stands willingness in a responsibility to roll up our sleeves and get to work on a bipartisan fashion to make real headways for the good of all Americans. We offer our help, expertise, and commitment to lead the immigration issue on behalf of the community and our constituents.

As we believe the STRIVE Act is a comprehensive solution, and it is a comprehensive solution that best fits immigration problems and the political realities that we're in. STRIVE is a comprehensive bill that addresses employers, businesses' needs, hold employers accountable, protect employees' rights, and provide for strong border security.

STRIVE also addresses the needs of farmers through the ag provision. It sets up an employment verification system to help our businesses better comply with immigration laws. It benefits families by giving more children access to education under the DREAM Act.

It also makes our nation safer by increasing enforcement personnel on the borders and increasing penalties for crimes committed by immigrants. STRIVE provides a pathway to legalization for qualified hard-working immigrants only, and I state, hard-working immigrants only.

It is critically important to emphasize that this is not an amnesty, as the gentleman indicated before. Any attempt to brand it as such is empty rhetoric and designed to play politics with our security. It calls for real penalties, for real sacrifices. In fact, many of our members who are supportive of the immigrants' community might personally wish for a different bill.

But at the end of the day, we feel STRIVE offers the best chance for real reform. STRIVE helps families stay together, and many of us have to look at many of the cases in our district. We know the heartbreak reality facing immigrant families who want to play by the rules to adjust their status but are facing unrealistic backlog and inefficiencies in our current visa system and also living in fear.

Congress has the responsibility to deal with the broken immigration system, and we cannot ignore the immigration crisis, that it will go away or it will solve itself. And that is not the solution to the problem. We have to address the problem. It is the responsibility of Congress. It is not the responsibility of the states. It is ours, and we must take action.

That's why the President of the United States was supporting and is supporting comprehensive immigration. Congress needs to take action, and the STRIVE Act offers the best solution. It's time to solve the crisis. I urge the subcommittee and Congress to strongly consider the STRIVE Act as a solution that is fair and realistic.

It's important for our security and to help businesses and protect our nation and our proud immigrant history. I thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.


REP. BACA: Thank you, Madam Chair. First of all, this bill actually helps immigrants currently in the United States legally. By legalizing the undocumented immigrants, they're more likely to earn wages that are competitive with today's legal immigrants. In turn, undocumented immigrants would have to go to the back of the line to earn legalization. So they can't jump the line, so it would help overall.

And finally, many illegal immigrants to date, including Hispanics, are struggling to keep their families together in the U.S. Parents are being deported while their U.S. children are left behind, and families across the U.S. are being torn apart and are waiting through years of delay to be reunited. STRIVE helps them in family reunification for hard working tax paying families, including illegal immigrants here in the United States.

And many of the individuals that are here come here for a better way of life. We know that the enforcement is not the answer. The border is not the answer. Comprehensive is the answer to many of the individuals that want to be here. And for anybody to say that they're going to go in front of the line, no. No one's going to go in front of the line.

We also realize that many of the undocumented have spent approximately $57 million for social security. They continue to pay taxes any time they go to any one of our stores, bring revenues into our area. They help build our economy. By allowing a comprehensive immigration legislation, will allow individuals to become taxpayers and pay into our system and have the kind of security that we want for our nation.

We'll know who's here illegally and who is not here legally. We'll know who are neighbors are and should be here. Our country would be a lot safer.


REP. BACA: Thank you very much for the question. First of all, Hispanics are very patriotic to this country. They're willing to serve this country, willing to fight for this country, willing to die for this country. And there's no way in the world that you can take 12 million people or above out of this country. People want a better way of life. They want to live in harmony like other individuals who have come here. 'Cause if we really assess who are the true Americans, Native Americans are the true Americans who were here. The rest of us are all immigrants. We have a responsibility to live with our neighbors, an opportunity to give these individuals who come to this country who want a better way of life the same opportunities that others have had.

If we truly are Christians, if we truly believe in Christianity, we would allow individuals who want to come here -- whether it's employment or education or family unification -- everyone for national security -- it's important. When people said wait a minute, this will be national security -- we'll know who is here legally, who is not legal, and who's committed a crime. People want to comply with the law. They will not be breaking the laws. They'll be given an opportunity to comply with those laws. And it's important that we bridge that gap, that we don't have hatred amongst one another.

And what we will end up doing -- if we don't do anything, we'll ultimately get into profiling of individuals, whether you carry a document that says if you're brown, you're black, or you're a different kind of a color, you may have to show I.D. Well, somebody else will not. It's important that we work together. I think the STRIVE Act goes in that direction and we have that opportunity, and we've all got to come together. And it's the responsibility of Congress to come up with legislation. That's why laws were made. When you talk about the Constitution, those were laws that were created. Those weren't laws that were there before. It allowed them. We have the same responsibility to create laws now, and we need you in addressing this issue.

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