Statement by Congresswoman Waters on Immigration Developments
Following testimony today by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on the urgent need for Congress to pass immigration reform this year and comments by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Justice Department is reviewing controversial legislation enacted in Arizona last week and might challenge it in federal court, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) issued a statement:
"As the Representative for a diverse district in southern California that is heavily impacted by immigration, I understand that America's broken immigration system has had disastrous consequences for our nation, American citizens, and undocumented individuals living here who seek a better life for themselves and their families.
I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2009 and its six core principles:
o Enhancing border security;
o Implementing a mandatory Electronic Employment Verification System (EEVS or E-Verify);
o Reforming family and employment visa processes;
o Providing a pathway to legalization;
o Strengthening the U.S. economy and workforce; and
o Making the citizenship process more accessible."
Immigration is a national issue which falls under the jurisdiction of our federal government. In the absence of federal legislation to address immigration in an effective, fair and compassionate manner, some states and local governments are attempting to take matters into their own hands by passing laws that are not true solutions and will result in considerable harm to American citizens as well as undocumented immigrants.
The most recent example of this is Arizona's new law that, in effect, justifies and even condones racial profiling by requiring police officers to demand identification from people whom they suspect are not U.S. citizens, question them and determine whether to detain them or let them go. Serving on the House Judiciary Committee I have heard accounts of racial profiling by police. It happens all too frequently, and unfortunately the Arizona legislation will make this problem even worse.
The effect of this is clear – many American citizens will be subject to harassment by the police on the basis of their skin color, ethnicity, or speaking with an accent. This is not consistent with the Constitution or America's democratic values. Moreover, it will make our communities less safe by diverting police resources from fighting violent crime and will make residents who witness crime afraid to report it to the police.
I continue to support comprehensive immigration reform and hope that the President, Congress and the American public will work together to pass legislation like CIR ASAP this year."