Today, as the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee held hearings on the impact of immigration raids on families and children, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) addressed its continued push for real immigration reform.
"Recent raids have shown us that many times, children and families at large are being scared into the shadows by the tactics sometimes used by ICE agents," said Congresswoman Joe Baca (D-CA), Chair of the CHC. "Enforcement activities near and at schools can have very troubling effects- intimidating families, including those with U.S. citizen children, into not taking their children to school and sometimes taking them into the fields to work with them."
"Our children are paying the highest price of all for our broken immigration laws. They are being torn from their families and live in constant fear that at any moment their loved ones will be senta away," said Congressman Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Chair of the CHC Education Task Force. "This represents a moral and humanitarian crisis for this nation and we will not stand by as our people are rounded up, placed in camps, and deported. When laws are unjust, we change them. It is high time for change."
"The testimony that we heard today- and the stories that many of us have heard from our constituents who have been affected by these raids- was heartbreaking, and often times tough to listen to," said Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), who Chairs the Workforce Protections Subcommitee. "We all recognize the need for a broader immigration policy... all that we're asking for is that these enforcement activities be done not in a vacuum, but that they are undertaken with care and concern for the community that they will affect."
"An immigration system that is predicated on fear tactics and piecemeal, deportation-only policies profoundly worsens our immigration crisis by disrespecting family values, creating broken homes and tearing the fabric of our society," said Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez, Chair of the CHC Immigration Task Force. "Instead of tacitly supporting practices that rip parents apart from their children and overlooking the employers who stand accused of horrific labor violations, including employing children in a slaughterhouse, this Administration and this Congress should be working to enact real, comprehensive solutions to our immigration crisis."
"It is a frightening day when our failure to reform immigration law has made children pawns and victims of this failure," stated Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Vice Chair of the CHC. "How un-American to divide families and endanger children all for the political upper hand on toughness, while lacking the courage to fix the problem. These children deserve better from the Bush Administration and Congress."
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a way that respects human dignity and protects children. Unfortunately, over the last two years, workplace raids conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency have ignored family values and unnecessarily risked the safety and well being of our children," said Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis, Chair of the CHC Health and the Environment Task Force. "The Families First Enforcement Act (H.R. 3908), legislation I introduced recognizes that with proper planning and foresight, immigration laws can be enforced in a humane way that protects children. I will continue to work with my colleagues and others across this country to protect our communities and our families."
"Our government's policy that requires ICE officers to target children in our schools and Head Start learning centers - the way police stake out the most dangerous criminal suspects- is unconscionable," Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) said. "The ICE raids at factories and other places of employment are equally deplorable and should also stop until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform. Whenever these raids are conducted, they are counterproductive- undermining our nation's economy and instilling fear among our nation's hard-working immigrants."