Saturday, November 15, 2014

CONYERS AND 115 HOUSE DEMOCRATS URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO USE LEGAL AUTHORITY TO TAKE EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION REFORM



WASHINGTON – Today at a press conference led by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) joined many House Democratic Colleagues in urging President Obama to use his broad legal authority to implement administrative reforms to improve key aspects of America’s broken immigration system.

“Republicans have refused every effort in Congress to fix our broken immigration system despite countless opportunities.  In the face of Congressional inaction, like those before him, the President must act,” said Rep. John Conyers. 

Spearheaded by Rep. Gutierrez and House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Rep. Conyers and over 115 House Democrats issued a letter to President Obama urging him to exercise his power under existing law to prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permeant residents, and deferred action beneficiaries.  The letter also encourages the President to recognize undocumented farmworkers that face exploitation and abuse.   

Last year, after substantial negotiations between a bipartisan group of 4 Democratic and 4 Republican Senators, the Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that would have overhauled U.S. immigration law.  If enacted, the bill would establish a fair pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants after undergoing several security measures before obtaining a green card, further secure our borders, and ensure that our nation’s economic needs could be met through improved visa programs.  House Republicans have repeatedly blocked progress of this critical legislation by refusing to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“At this time, it is clear to me that the only path forward on immigration policy is through Executive action.  I encourage the Obama Administration to move forward with bold, Executive action because it’s the right thing to do for the country,” added Rep. Conyers.

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Text of the letter to President Obama urging him to take “bold and meaningful” executive action is below:


November 13, 2014



Dear Mr. President:

It is most unfortunate that Republican leaders in the House refused to allow a vote on the bipartisan immigration reform bill the Senate passed last year.  Even today, if Republican leaders allowed a vote, the bill would pass.  But they won’t.

When Republicans blocked legislation, your pledge to use Presidential power under existing law to improve our immigration system gave us hope. Without such changes, our economy will continue to suffer and families in our communities will continue to be torn apart.

Although we were very disappointed when you postponed action until after the November election, we were encouraged last week when you reaffirmed your promise to act before the end of the year.

We hope that your actions will prevent the separation of undocumented family members of U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and DACA beneficiaries and offer protection to others who have long worked in the United States and have established strong ties with our communities.  We similarly hope that you will recognize that undocumented farmworkers are “essential for agriculture” and that our country would benefit greatly if they were permitted to work in our fields without fear.  We further hope that you will reform our immigration enforcement efforts to make them more sensible and humane.

Bold and meaningful executive action will provide a boost to our national and local economies.  It will strengthen communities and promote family unity.  It will help the government focus limited enforcement resources on those who pose a true danger to the public.  And by providing an opportunity for millions of undocumented immigrants to register with the government—provide detailed biographic information, undergo criminal background checks, demonstrate continuing compliance with tax laws—it will protect American and immigrant workers alike by reducing the threat of exploitation and abuse.

The legal authority for taking executive action is clear and substantial.  Just two years ago, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed that the administration retains “broad discretion” to decide “whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”  Arizona v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2492, 2499 (2012).  And executive action in this area is anything but unprecedented.  In fact, every past President starting from President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than half a century ago has used such authority when dealing with similar issues regarding the national interest.

Like us, you have heard Republicans warn that any actions you take will “poison the well” and prevent them from using their upcoming majority in the Senate to address our broken immigration system. However, for the past two years it was not Senate Democrats that blocked much-needed legislation, it was House Republicans. That obstacle to sensible immigration reform still remains. Let us also not forget that congressional Republicans previously blocked reform in 2006 and 2007.

As you said last week, “What we can’t do is just keep on waiting. There’s a cost for waiting.” That cost is measured in the tens of thousands of parents of U.S. citizen children who are deported each year. It is measured in the emotional price children and DACA recipients pay worrying about whether their parents will come home at the end of the day. Our national security suffers whenever we spend precious enforcement resources on hardworking immigrant families, rather than on criminals and those who mean our communities harm.  And American workers’ wages and working conditions are consistently undermined as long as millions of immigrant workers are working in the shadows and off the books. We agree with you, Mr. President. We can no longer afford to wait.

As you have said, it is ultimately the job of Congress to reform our broken immigration system by enacting legislation. But by failing to do their job—and repeatedly interfering with your efforts to do your job—congressional Republicans threaten to take our immigration system hostage and preserve a status quo that everyone agrees is unacceptable. Their failure to act must not inhibit your commitment to governing.

We will stand with you as you take bold and meaningful action, consistent with existing law and historical precedent, to protect American families, strengthen local communities and grow the economy.

Sincerely,

1.         Karen Bass
2.         Earl Blumenauer
3.         Suzanne Bonamici
4.         Tony Cárdenas
5.         Joaquin Castro
6.         Judy Chu
7.         David Cicilline
8.         Katherine Clark
9.         Yvette Clarke
10.       Wm. Lacy Clay
11.       Emanuel Cleaver
12.       James Clyburn
13.       Steve Cohen   
14.       John Conyers, Jr.
15.       Jim Costa
16.       Joseph Crowley
17.       Elijah Cummings
18.       Danny Davis
19.       Susan Davis
20.       Diana DeGette
21.       Rosa DeLauro
22.       Suzan DelBene
23.       Theodore Deutch
24.       Lloyd Doggett
25.       Tammy Duckworth
26.       Donna Edwards
27.       Keith Ellison
28.       Eliot Engel
29.       Anna C. Eshoo
30.       Sam Farr
31.       Chaka Fattah
32.       Bill Foster
33.       Marcia Fudge
34.       Joe Garcia
35.       Alan Grayson
36.       Al Green
37.       Gene Green
38.       Raul Grijalva
39.       Luis Gutierrez
40.       Janice Hahn
41.       Alcee Hastings
42.       Ruben Hinojosa
43.       Rush Holt
44.       Michael Honda
45.       Steny Hoyer
46.       Jared Huffman
47.       Sheila Jackson Lee
48.       Hakeem Jeffries
49.       Hank Johnson
50.       Marcy Kaptur
51.       Robin Kelly
52.       Joseph P. Kennedy, III
53.       John B. Larson
54.       Barbara Lee
55.       Sander Levin
56.       John Lewis
57.       Zoe Lofgren
58.       Alan Lowenthal
59.       Ben Ray Luján
60.       Carolyn Maloney
61.       Doris O. Matsui
62.       Betty McCollum
63.       Jim McDermott
64.       James P. McGovern
65.       Jerry McNerney
66.       Gregory Meeks
67.       Grace Meng
68.       George Miller
69.       Gwen Moore
70.       James P. Moran
71.       Jerrold Nadler
72.       Grace Napolitano
73.       Gloria Negrete McLeod
74.       Eleanor Holmes Norton
75.       Beto O’Rourke
76.       Frank Pallone
77.       Bill Pascrell
78.       Donald Payne, Jr.
79.       Ed Perlmutter
80.       Scott Peters
81.       Pedro Pierluisi
82.       Chellie Pingree
83.       Mark Pocan
84.       Jared Polis
85.       Mike Quigley
86.       Charles Rangel
87.       Lucille Roybal-Allard
88.       Bobby Rush
89.       Linda Sanchez
90.       Loretta Sanchez
91.       Janice Schakowsky
92.       Adam Schiff
93.       Bradley S. Schneider
94.       Kurt Schrader
95.       Allyson Y. Schwartz
96.       Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
97.       Jose Serrano
98.       Terri A. Sewell
99.       Albio Sires
100.     Adam Smith
101.     Jackie Speier
102.     Eric Swalwell
103.     Mark Takano
104.     Mike Thompson
105.     Dina Titus
106.     Paul Tonko
107.     Chris Van Hollen
108.     Juan Vargas
109.     Nydia Velazquez
110.     Marc A. Veasey
111.     Filemon Vela
112.     Maxine Waters
113.     Henry Waxman
114.     Peter Welch
115.     Frederica Wilson
116.     John Yarmuth

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CONYERS STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF LORETTA LYNCH AS ATTORNEY GENERAL

Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement today on President Obama’s nomination of U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York, to serve as the next Attorney General of the United States:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Loretta Lynch is an accomplished and committed public servant who has proven that she can withstand various challenges in the pursuit of justice.  As a federal prosecutor from the Eastern District of New York, Lynch has worked hard to crack down on political corruption and terrorism.  As America continues its struggles to protect and expand civil rights for all, I am confident Ms. Lynch will bring a fresh perspective in securing voting rights, addressing over-criminalization and improving the criminal justice system as a whole.

“President Obama’s nomination of Ms. Lynch to be our next Attorney General would make her a dynamic addition to his diverse and distinguished cabinet.  Once confirmed, Ms. Lynch would continue the legacy left behind by our current Attorney General Holder, as the first African-American woman to hold the position. 

“I encourage the Senate to confirm Ms. Lynch as our next Attorney General without delay to reassure the American people that the Justice Department will continue its diligent work under first-rate leadership seamlessly.”
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

CONYERS: “UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA’S LEADERSHIP, WE WILL DEFEAT EBOLA”

DETROIT—Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement regarding the Ebola crisis and the federal government’s response:

“While Ebola is a dreadful illness that poses a serious threat to nations in West Africa, the simple fact remains that Ebola is extraordinarily rare in the United States.  There have been only two cases of Ebola contracted in the country, and health professionals have treated both successfully.  

“I applaud President Obama for basing his response to Ebola on science rather than unproven hysteria.  His decision to send a Disaster Assistance Response Team—comprised of leading public health experts—to West Africa has been essential to containing the virus in Liberia and other West African nations.  Given that an appropriate response to the virus requires action from medical researchers, military personnel and domestic healthcare professionals, the President wisely appointed a capable coordinator to oversee the federal government operation.  Central to every aspect of President Obama’s strategy is the important notion that we must eradicate Ebola at its source. 

“Of course President Obama needs the resources and personnel to effectively implement this prudent strategy.  But over the last decade, the federal contributions toward medical research at National Institutes of Health (NIH) have fallen in inflation adjusted terms.  In fact, the agency’s budget has shrunk by more than 20 since 2003.  This reduction is especially irresponsible because the NIH is the world leader in efforts to identify new means of treating and preventing Ebola. 

“Under the Republicans’ misguided across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, other pivotal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have suffered similar funding setbacks.  Additionally, conservatives in the Senate have blocked the confirmation of one of the most highly-qualified nominees for Surgeon General in U.S. history, leaving the position vacant at a time when accurate medical information is particularly important. 

“It’s time to put partisan considerations aside and support President Obama’s strategy to protect Americans and eliminate Ebola globally.  I hope more and more of my colleagues will put aside partisan considerations and support the non-nonsense strategy of our President to protect us here and eliminate Ebola globally.”
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Full Employment Act at 35: America's Unfinished Business

By John Conyers, Jr.
U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
For the first time since the start of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate is below 6 percent. America has experienced 55 consecutive months of net job creation, resulting in the addition of 10.3 million new jobs.
Look beneath these surface-level statistics, however, and you'll still find massive unused human potential and unnecessary suffering. Nearly 19 million people across the nation are still searching for full-time work. The unemployment rates for African-Americans and young Americans remain in the double digits. The percentage of Americans in the workforce remains below pre-recession levels because millions of people who want jobs have become too discouraged to continue to seek employment. If these jobless Americans were counted in official statistics, the unemployment rate would be upwards of 9.6 percent.
The federal government has not only a moral obligation to address the ongoing jobs crisis -- it has a legal mandate. Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, a law that requires federal policies to be directed toward the attainment of full employment. The law is in effect today, yet Congress continues to shirk its responsibilities to ensure that people are working.
The Humphrey-Hawkins Act, named after the law's authors, the late Senator Hubert Humphrey and the late Representative Augustus Hawkins, was a turning point in American public policy because it first established the principle that the federal government should serve as an "employer of last resort." The bill set specific targets for employment and authorized the use of a broad range of fiscal and monetary tools to achieve them.
While private sector hiring is the ideal, the Humphrey-Hawkins Act commits the government to step in when workers are idle and public needs -- like roads, schools, bridges, health centers, and scientific research -- go unmet. The cost of inaction is simply too great: unemployment means serious damage to Americans' health (by causing anxiety and lost insurance coverage), homes and neighborhoods (through foreclosures and increased crime), and lifelong career prospects (because of atrophied skills and discrimination against the long-term unemployed). When we create jobs -- whether through private investment or federal action--businesses have more customers able to buy more goods and services and the overall economy prospers. When there are more jobs available, lower-income and moderate-income workers can bargain for higher wages.
There are cost-effective policies Congress should pass right now to live up to the law it passed 35 years ago. Specifically, Congress should pass the new 21st-century Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act (H.R. 1000) to create the means to hire people to make necessary upgrades to our infrastructure, healthcare, and education systems. Another excellent option is the updated and upgraded version of President Obama's American Jobs Act (H.R. 2821). Even if Republican leadership disagrees with these proposals to put Americans back to work, they should show respect for the suffering of unemployed Americans and their families by allowing them to receive a fair up-or-down vote.
If the Republican-controlled Congress continues to obstruct critical job creation initiatives, President Obama should build on his "year of action" to use the authority granted to him by the Humphrey-Hawkins Act to promote action for the unemployed wherever possible. I stand ready to assist President Obama in building Congressional support for an agenda that fulfills the promise of Humphrey-Hawkins.
Thirty-five years after the enactment of the Full Employment law, America remains far from the realizing the vision of a Full Employment society. We have both a moral obligation and a legal mandate to get to work.
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

CONYERS AND UN OFFICIALS JOIN “LISTENING PANEL” ON THE NEED FOR ACCESS TO DRINKING WATER IN THE CITY OF DETROIT


DETROIT- On Sunday, October 19, 2014, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) was a panelist at a town hall meeting attended by two officials with the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Leilani Farha, special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, and Catarina de Albuquerque, special rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation.

During the town hall meeting, the U.N. officials listened to testimonies from individuals who are experiencing shutoffs and met with local elected officials. At a press conference on Monday, the U.N. officials called for cessation of water shutoffs in Detroit, citing the act violates international human rights law and poses a risk to public health.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“With its location on the Great Lakes and extensive sanitation systems, Detroit should have access to plentiful and inexpensive water.  Yet, due to an overzealous and wrongheaded approach to cost-cutting, many Detroiters have been denied access to this essential resource,” said Rep. John Conyers.  “In addition to strong advocacy to local officials in defense of water rights, I am continuing to make the case to state and federal officials that resources from Michigan’s multimillion Hardest Hit Fund should be invested in upgrades to our water system.  In the 21st Century, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one should go without safe, clean, public water.”

Conyers added, “I applaud Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and others for holding this important hearing on the devastating consequences of water shutoffs for Detroit residents.  I am so pleased that the hearing,presented to a full house at Wayne County Community College’s downtown campus, garnered major media attention and helped drive a national conversation regarding access to water.  As the United Nations Special Rapporteur noted, denying access to water to those who are unable to pay is a violation of international human rights law and could cause a regional public health crisis that could impact the most vulnerable among us, particularly infants and seniors.” 
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REP. CONYERS STATEMENT ON DHS PLAN TO REQUIRE PASSENGERS FROM LIBERIA, SIERRA LEONE, AND GUINEA TO ENTER THROUGH AIRPORTS WITH ENHANCED SCREENING


WASHINGTON – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) released the following statement after the Department of Homeland Security announced a new temporary plan to require passengers originating from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to enter the United States through one of five designated airports enhanced with Ebola-screening measures (located in Washington, Atlanta, New York City, Newark and Chicago):
U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s decision to direct passengers traveling to the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to enter the country through one of five designated airports with enhanced, Ebola-specific screening is a sensible precautionary measure that helps address public concerns and helps deter spreading of the disease.



“As agreed upon by experts in both the public health and transportation communities, issuing a blanket travel ban would not only be counterproductive, but it would also irresponsibly impede getting much-needed supplies and relief to the countries that need it most.”
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

REPS. JOHN CONYERS AND YVETE CLARKE APPLAUD THE EXPEDITION OF THE HAITI FAMILY REUNIFICATION PROGRAM

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), lauded the Department of Homeland Security for moving forward with implementation of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program in 2015, which will expedite the reunification of Haitian families and support safe and legal migration from Haiti to the United States.

Starting in early 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will offer certain eligible Haitian beneficiaries of previously approved family-based immigrant visa petitions, who are currently in Haiti, an opportunity to come to the United States about two years before their immigrant visa priority dates become current.  Families who are eligible will receive a written notice from the National Visa Center.

“The decision by the Department of Homeland Security to implement a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program will benefit everyone," said Congressman Conyers.  "Families who would otherwise be unnecessarily separated for years while awaiting the availability of an immigrant visa soon will be allowed to wait together.  Communities here and in Haiti will be strengthened.  And as Haiti continues to rebuild from the earthquake that devastated the country in 2010, this program will allow greater remittances to be sent back to fund critically needed recovery efforts."

“I want to commend the Department of Homeland Security on the development of this program, which will allow for the reunification of families that have been separated – in some instances for many years.  The continued failure of Congress to enact – or even to debate – comprehensive immigration reform continues to separate parents from their children and husbands from their wives.  The wait must end.  I am hopeful that this program will form the basis for a broader policy that will allow families from around the world to avoid unnecessary delays in reuniting here in the United States,” said Congresswoman Clarke.

The Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program builds upon the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which was established in 2007 under the Bush Administration.  Members of Congress, editorial boards, and faith leaders have urged the Administration to adopt a similar program for Haitian families since 2010.
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