Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ranking Member Conyers Statement at Immigration Subcommittee Hearing

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing entitled, “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?” This hearing comes a week following the Secretary of Homeland Security and Security of State’s approval of regulations pertaining to certain refugees. During his opening remarks, Ranking Member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) delivered the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
“Less than two weeks ago, I was optimistic that we had turned a corner in the immigration debate when Republican leadership released its new set of immigration principles. Although these principles were vague and subject to a wide range of interpretations, they nevertheless signaled real promise: Promise that my colleagues finally recognized the damage that our broken immigration system causes every day to families and businesses throughout the country. And promise that this House would finally move forward on reforming that system for the good of us all. But just one week later, that promise is all but gone.

“Why the sudden turnaround? Apparently, it’s all President Obama’s fault. Despite record deportations and the lowest level of border crossings in the last 40 years, my Republican colleagues say they don’t trust the President to enforce our immigration laws. Let me take this moment to assure them that the President is enforcing our immigration laws vigorously - a lot more than many of us would like. My district office, like many other district offices in the House, can attest to that.  Our caseworkers spend their days dealing with heart-wrenching deportations and family separation. Nevertheless, this record level of enforcement does not seem to be enough.

“So this weekend, Senator Schumer offered a different approach - pass immigration legislation now, but have it take effect in 2017 when a new President is sitting in the Oval Office. Many Republicans rejected this proposal as soon as they heard it. Even though the offer would take Obama out of the equation, they did not like it. Why? Those who gave a reason said it was because they still don’t trust Obama.

“This blame game and disregard for the facts is now being reflected in today’s hearing. Last week, the Washington Times published an article about fraud in the asylum system, citing a 2009 report from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. That report concerned asylum claims from 2005 - three years before President Obama took office. Nevertheless, our Majority now seems to be blaming Obama for that too. And they refuse to recognize that the system in place today - while not perfect - is an improved system from the system in place in 2005. The 2009 fraud report itself details several ways in which the system has been improved since 2005. I guess it’s just more fun to blame Obama.

“The issue we will address today is important. We know that the number of people seeking asylum at our borders and in the interior of our country has increased over the last two years. In some places at the border, the increase has been quite dramatic. It is important that we figure out why this is happening, because only after we do that can we figure out how to deal with it in a responsible way. But that’s not all we have to do. Fixing our broken immigration system still lies ahead for the Congress. And I stand ready to do the work that needs to be done.

“Let’s begin the Second Session by bringing up the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate. If not, let’s instead consider some of the Republican bills that I understand may be in the works. Let’s just do something, because doing nothing is no more an option for us than it is for the families that are being torn apart each and every day.”
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