A picture of Representative Hakeem S. Jeffries
Hakeem J.
Democrat NY 8

About Rep. Hakeem
  • Cbc Hour: Immigration Reform

    by Representative Hakeem S. Jeffries

    Posted on 2013-02-04

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    JEFFRIES. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members be given 5 days to revise and extend their remarks on the subject of my Special Order.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York? There was no objection.

    Mr. JEFFRIES. Today we are here as members of the Congressional Black Caucus to weigh in on the important issue that confronts this Nation as it relates to the need for comprehensive immigration reform. It's my honor and my privilege to represent the Eighth Congressional District anchored in Brooklyn and parts of southwest Queens, one of the most diverse districts in the country; a district that has blacks and whites, Asians, Latinos, and immigrants from every corner of the world. I recognize in the capacity of my representation in that district the significance that immigrants have given both to the communities that I represent as well as to the city of New York, the State, and the Nation.

    I'm proud that we've been joined by several distinguished members of the Congressional Black Caucus which, for more than four decades, has been known as the conscience of the Congress. And in that capacity, the Congressional Black Caucus has, year after year, spent time trying to perfect our democracy and create a more perfect Union. We confront that moment right now, here, in this great country of ours as we try and figure out how we deal with creating a pathway towards citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who are forced to toil in the shadows.

    We've been joined today by a co-anchor for this next hour, a distinguished classmate of mine from the great State of Nevada, the gentleman Steven Horsford, who had the opportunity, I believe, last week to be present while President Barack Obama delivered his remarks as they relate to immigration reform. And so I'd like to ask Mr. Horsford if he might comment on the President's remarks and weigh in on the immigration debate from his perspective as a representative from the important State of Nevada.

    Mr. HORSFORD. Mr. Speaker, first I'd like to thank my classmate and colleague and say I look forward to serving with him in this historic 113th Congress as we work together to make this a more perfect Union.

    I also represent one of the more diverse districts in the United States Congress. My district is 25 percent Latino, 16 percent African American, 7 percent Asian American, 2 percent Native American. It is a district that reflects both the urban as well as the rural components and communities of our great State of Nevada.

    {time} 2010 In fact, Congressional District 4 reflects the State of Nevada, and Nevada increasingly reflects all of America. And so I believe that is why President Obama decided, of all places that he could visit, he visited Nevada last week to discuss the fierce urgency of now in adopting a comprehensive immigration reform by this Congress; the fact that Nevada reflects the changing demographics of our country, but it also reflects the broken system which is our immigration system.

    And so, as I listened to the President, and as we honor today the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, I reflect on these issues as a basic fundamental civil right, a human right that is guaranteed to us. So today does mark the 100th birthday of Rosa Parks, an icon in the struggle for justice, a woman who was known as the mother of the civil rights movement.

    As an African American woman confronting prejudice and unequal treatment under the law, Mrs. Parks remarked that what pushed her to say ``no'' on that fateful day in Montgomery was the simple fact that her ``mistreatment was just not right,'' and she was ``tired of it.'' She said, and I quote: I did not want to be mistreated; I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time . . . There was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way that I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave [[Page H334]] in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

    It was not complicated. It was prejudice. It was unfair, and she was sick of it. She was tired of the constant drumbeat of injustice directing every minute of her day. She was tired of facing inequality in a country founded on principles of liberty and justice for all. Her act of civil disobedience sparked a social movement that changed our country forever, and she did it because ``it was just time.'' So today, we honor her courage and her bravery. We remember her legacy and draw lessons from her actions. We take up the cause of promoting more just, fair and humane policy for all, because that's what we owe Mrs. Parks and all our civil rights leaders.

    It is our tribute to those larger-than-life pioneers. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ``Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'' It is that creed of the civil rights movement that still motivates us today.

    So today we take up the cause of joining arms with our immigrant brothers and sisters in that spirit. The time is now to lend a hand to those who confront injustice as a result of a broken immigration system. It is just time.

    For many undocumented immigrants in our country, they are waiting to start their lives. They are waiting to start a business. They are waiting to reunite with their families, often for years on end.

    And while they wait, children see their parents deported. Students get stuck in an educational purgatory and can't attend college and better their lives or get a job in the country that trained them. And mothers and fathers can't provide for their family or care for their loved ones without keeping them in the shadows.

    So they can't wait any longer. We can't wait any longer. And as Rosa Parks said, It is just time.

    From Africa to Europe to Asia, our dysfunctional immigration system is a disincentive to the best and the brightest worldwide from coming to our great country. We throw talent away. We tear families apart. We show disregard for those trying to live the American Dream.

    For far too long, we have put off comprehensive immigration reform, but now we are taking up the opportunity to do something about it. And we cannot let this moment pass. It is in that spirit that we hold today's discussion.

    We will not wait any longer. We have to continue strengthening our border, but we will act on comprehensive immigration reform without delay. We will crack down on employers, but we will make sure that there is a pathway to citizenship for those who are here at no fault of their own. And we will fulfill our heritage as a Nation of immigrants and a Nation of laws.

    Justice, compassion, and equal protection are our common cause. We have an opportunity to embrace dynamism that immigrants bring to our country, and now is the time to do it.

    As I said, this is a civil rights issue. In fact, it is the civil rights and human rights issue of our generation. Just like the civil rights issues of the sixties that were fought by African Americans, and the women's rights issues before that, this is a civil rights issue that must be advocated by all who believe in a sense of justice, opportunity and equality for every person.

    And as we work together, we can move forward on immigration reform for the good of our country and for the good of all of us as human beings.

    Mr. JEFFRIES. I thank the gentleman from Nevada.

    We've been joined by the distinguished chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, the gentlelady from Cleveland, Ohio, Representative Marcia Fudge. I yield her such time as she may consume.

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