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Hearing on “Making Immigration Work for American Minorities”

March 1, 2011
Committee Remark

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, delivered the following opening remarks during an Immigration Subcommittee hearing on 'Making Immigration Work for American Minorities':

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I ask that the Subcommittee and witnesses excuse my absence at the beginning of the today's hearing.  I was called to serve as Ranking Member on a Financial Services Committee hearing this morning, and was therefore unable to arrive to this Subcommittee in a timely manner.  However, I have reviewed all of our witnesses' testimony and I would like to use my time to make a few observations. 

First, I ask unanimous consent to include within the record an online article written by Mark Krikorian entitled, "Contra Nadler: "Yes, Reach Out to Immigrants – but not by Admitting More of Them." The article was published in the National Review Online.

In the article, Mr. Krikorian, the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), outlines in plain language why all Republicans should oppose immigration reform.  As we discuss and debate these issues regarding immigration policy, I think it is important for the Committee and the public to be aware of any biases that may impact the witnesses' testimony.   Since the majority often calls a representative from the Center for Immigration Studies to testify, I am concerned that this organization's "research" may be more politically motivated than out of genuine concern for the unemployment rate among American minorities.

In the editorial for the National Review Online, Mark Krikorian writes:

"On the contrary, the threat to the GOP and its agenda is not the party's opposition to mass immigration, but mass immigration itself. The majority of Hispanics vote Democratic, and this would surprise no one knowledgeable about American history: That's what immigrants, and the native-born closest to immigration, have always done."

As a Member of Congress representing both Latinos and African Americans, I am very disappointed with the Majority's effort to pit minorities against one another in a blatant attempt to derail comprehensive immigration reform. Clearly, today's hearing was organized to divert attention away from their inability to present policies and proposals that would truly stimulate the American economy and help to put all Americans back to work. 

As is duly noted in Mr. Wade Henderson's written testimony, African Americans have often maintained higher unemployment rates than other groups.  And as Mr. Frank Morris noted in his written testimony, these rates have links to many other challenges disadvantaged populations have faced in the United States.  Yet, by and large, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been collectively against: job training grants; summer jobs funding; community development block grant funding; foreclosure prevention programs; heating subsidies for low income families; policies promoting diversity in federal contracting; eliminating the crack cocaine sentencing disparity; completely eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing; fully funding Pell grants; fully funding the EEOC to police racial discrimination, and reforms in our tax code that would provide for economic opportunity for those who are not included among the nation's wealthiest top 1 percent of households.

The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have been at the forefront in championing progressive policies that take into account the challenges that American minorities confront.  One need only review the Republicans' voting records to understand their political priorities – and it does not include a deep concern for the working class or American minorities.

Today, I continue to support a comprehensive framework that includes reforms to our deportation and detention policies, as well as border security.  Reform must also include a fair path to citizenship (and some penalty for those who have been in the U.S. illegally).  Individuals who have lived in the U.S. for many years while raising their families, paying taxes, and paying into social security should have the opportunity to become legal citizens in a fair and efficient process.  We must also hold employers accountable by assessing increased penalties for those who exploit undocumented immigrant labor.

Mr. Chairman, comprehensive reform is the only way that we will be able to create an immigration system that is fair, feasible, and protects American workers.  A fragmented reform policy that focuses only on E-Verify and deportation will yield unintended consequences that will negatively impact American workers.

Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.