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Debbie W.
Democrat FL 23

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  • Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015

    by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Posted on 2015-01-13

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    WASSERMAN SCHULTZ. Madam Chair, I rise in strong opposition to the FY 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations Act because House Republicans are littering the bill with provisions that have nothing to do with homeland security but have everything to do with harming families and keeping our immigration system dysfunctional, risking our national security in the process.

    I too serve as a ranking member on the Appropriations Committee and craft a bill and work in a bipartisan spirit, and I had an opportunity to work in a bipartisan spirit on this bill as well. So it is truly unfortunate that this bill is being poisoned by amendments that are really going to jeopardize our national security.

    I reluctantly stand in opposition because the overall bill is ``must- pass'' legislation, and it includes very important measures to bolster our national security, including additional funding that I fought for and secured to protect children from online predators.

    Many of my colleagues are in a similar situation; too many poison pills are set to be slipped in that make this legislation's passage unacceptable.

    House Republicans are willfully driving us toward a partial government shutdown that jeopardizes our security at home, all just for the chance to further destabilize our immigration system, make it harder to secure the border, punish young people who have known no other country other than this one, and separate families in the process.

    Now, how did we get here? Because the extreme elements of the GOP became apoplectic when the President announced that he would move ahead with his legal executive actions to fix our broken immigration system. And everyone will recall, of course, that he did so due to this body's repeated unwillingness to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

    Now, as we debated the so-called CR/Omnibus legislation last year, House Republicans put their cards on the table with temporary DHS funding. And with this bill being debated today, they are ready to gamble on our Nation's security and America's safety to satisfy their rightwing base.

    This is not governing in good faith at the outset of a new Congress, with the opportunity we have to set aside differences and work together for the betterment of the country.

    And this isn't just politics as usual from the other side of the aisle. Some of it is alarmingly personal and targeted.

    Part of the President's executive action is intended to keep families together and support the educational and employment aspirations of millions of undocumented individuals.

    Some of the amendments attached to this bill would, in fact, tear families apart, deporting thousands of so-called DREAMers and even revictimizing women already subjected to domestic violence by targeting them for removal.

    The point of these games is to satisfy the anti-immigrant, extremist elements within the Republican party. But to what end? Where is the sense of reality? Though he has flip-flopped several times on the issue, even former Governor Jeb Bush, from my home State of Florida, has said as far back as 10 years ago that a policy that ignores that they are here is a policy of denial.

    So where is the thoughtful policymaking our constituents sent us to Washington to engage in? And quite frankly, where is the compassion? I have held numerous meetings and events in south Florida recently, and to say that we are past due for comprehensive immigration reform is a gross understatement.

    I have met so many workers and students who have made meaningful contributions to our community but who live in a constant state of uncertainty about their future, ranging from questions about their schooling and jobs to fearing deportation and separation from their loved ones.

    Leoni, a high school valedictorian; Maria, a mother of DREAMers who has formed a support group for people in similar situations; and Cosmin, a father only seeking a permanent work permit to be able to better provide for his young daughter who is a citizen--these are real people with real stories, and our actions and inactions in Washington have real consequences for them.

    Madam Chair, it is not too late to engage in bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform. We can reintroduce and debate the legislation that was passed by a strong bipartisan majority in the Senate in 2013 and supported by diverse business, faith, legal, and community groups across the Nation.

    That is the most effective way to legally and morally respond to the needs of immigration reform. It is practical. It is wide-ranging, and it speaks to our values as a Nation.

    Or we could even sit down together and come up with a new comprehensive bill. But this is immoral and wrong, and we should reject it so that we can come together and do something that is reflective of the values of this country.

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