Kirsten Gillibrand on Immigration
Democratic Senator (NY); Democratic Candidate for President (withdrawn)
Gillibrand: I think when you talk about whether this should be a crime, you have to remember who we're talking about. When I was at the Texas border, I visited with women who had fled violence. A woman from El Salvador owned a small business, gangs came to her and said if you don't give us all your money, we're going to kill your family. Another woman was raped. This is who we're talking about -- and they're not criminals. It should be a civil violation and we should make sure that we treat people humanely.
She called for a "humane" asylum application process, for immigration judges to be independent from the attorney general's office, and for "comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship."
"The part of ICE that's gonna survive under Homeland Security is the cross border terrorism, human trafficking, gun trafficking, and drug trafficking," she said. She said the resulting organization should be fully funded under a new name, and the "enforcement and removal" functions of ICE would become responsibilities of the Justice Department.
I would protect the DREAMers. I would make sure that DREAMers that came to this country would have a pathway to citizenship so they can finish their schooling. So [if] they're serving in the military, they can continue to serve. So they can start families and start businesses. It's really important that we recognize that immigration is a strength. I would make sure we pass comprehensive immigration reform in this country.
"President Trump has had years to bring this country together, but instead he has chosen to divide the country across every single line he can imagine. If President Trump wants to convince the country that he actually cares about bringing us together, then he can start by no longer using government workers as political pawns, reuniting the families that his Administration ripped apart at the border, and stopping with political wedge issues like telling women they can't make their own health decisions in consultation with their doctor."
She co-sponsored a bill expressing displeasure at states giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and then co-sponsored a bill to prevent it. She voted in favor of an amendment to increase border fencing and technology by almost $90 million. She also voted in favor of an amendment to increase ICE funding by $9 million to work with local law enforcement to identify and remove undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.
A page put up on her website for her 2008 re-election campaign boasted about her record, adding that the congresswoman believed that English should be the official language of the United States.
Gillibrand was asked about her past positions in a 2018 interview with 60 Minutes, where she said, "I just didn't take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn't right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I'm embarrassed about and I'm ashamed of."
A: If you talk to any DACA recipient today, they're anxious. They're worried. They might be at school--they don't know if they can finish school. They might be getting married. Their lives are being upended and this President has no compassion. I don't think you should even consider this because it's three years. Why not a permanent pathway to citizenship so they actually could have certainty about their lives.
Maddow reminded Gillibrand she once said she was "embarrassed" by her previous positions on immigration. "Well, I don't think it was driven from my heart. I was callous to the suffering of families who want to be with their loved ones, people who want to be reunited with their families," Gillibrand said. "I recognize, as we all do, that immigration and diversity is our strength as a country. It's always driven our economy. It's the American story. So looking back, I really regretted that I didn't look beyond my district and talk about why this is an important part of the United States story and why it's an important part of our strength."
For those just getting acquainted with Gillibrand in the Trump era, in which she has voted with the president's position less than 12% of the time (the lowest among her colleagues), her past views may come as a surprise.
On immigration, the New York Democrat explained her shift: "I came from a district that was 98% white," Gillibrand said. "We have immigrants, but not a lot of immigrants. And I just didn't take the time to understand why these issues mattered because it wasn't right in front of me. And that was my fault. It was something that I'm embarrassed about and I'm ashamed of."
"I do not support open borders, and neither do Democrats," Gillibrand countered. "What we have in this country is an immigration crisis. You have people in this caravan to seek asylum in this country. Immigration has always been a strength in this country. We are a country founded by immigrants. So we need to fix our broken immigration system. Separating children from their parents at the border is immoral, that's what this president has done."
"This is an act of terrorism," Farley responded. "It's got to stop. But my opponent, Senator Gillibrand, wants to abolish ICE, which since 9/11 is the group primarily responsible for stopping terror."
"I think we should get rid of ICE," she said. "We should separate out two missions and do the anti-terrorism mission, the national security mission, and then on the other side, make sure you're doing-- looking at immigration as a humanitarian issue. These are civil issues."
But Gillibrand said the time is ripe for comprehensive immigration reform. She defended her previous opposition to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to issue government IDs to undocumented immigrants, saying it's an issue best addressed on the federal level. "That is something I would certainly look into, and we want to make sure that folks have the ability to get an ID," Gillibrand said. "But it's best done in a comprehensive bill because these are all the issues that we need to actually address."
Kirsten is committed to fixing America's broken immigration system--creating a real path to earned citizenship with strict accountability and providing fair labor rights to all workers. While upholding America's security and the rule of law, Kirsten is working to reform our immigration system to unite families and provide laborers needed by our farms and businesses.
Current law is unfairly punishing thousands of young people who have spent most of their lives in America. Kirsten has taken the lead to change this by co-sponsoring the DREAM Act to provide every child the opportunity to get a good education and earn their way to legal status.
According to the New York Times, Gillibrand had: "opposed any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, supported deputizing local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, spoke out against allowing illegal immigrants to have driver's licenses and sought to make English the official language of the US. She sided in favor of requiring adult occupants of affordable housing to provide proof of residency." In other words, she was the pro-immigration lobby's worst nightmare.
But all of that change, too. Just days into her tenure, after meeting with Latino and Chinese political leaders, she suddenly dropped her opposition to paths to citizenship and her support for English as a second language.
This bill authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appoint or provide counsel at government expense to aliens in removal proceedings.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives: That the national emergency declared by the finding of the President on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844 is hereby terminated.
Proclamation 9844 issued by the president on Feb. 15, 2019: Declares a state of national emergency at the southern border to address the issues of illegal immigration and criminal trafficking into the US: "The current situation at the southern border presents a border security and humanitarian crisis that threatens core national security interests and constitutes a national emergency. The southern border is a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics. The problem of large-scale unlawful migration through the southern border is long-standing, and despite the executive branch's exercise of existing statutory authorities, the situation has worsened in certain respects in recent years. Because of the gravity of the current emergency situation, it is necessary for the Armed Forces to provide additional support to address the crisis."
Opposing the Proclamation (supporting the Resolution), ACLU press release, 2/15/2019 The ACLU issued the following statement upon filing a lawsuit: "By the president's very own admission in the Rose Garden, there is no national emergency. He just grew impatient and frustrated with Congress, and decided to move along his promise for a border wall 'faster.' This is a patently illegal power grab that hurts American communities and flouts the checks and balances that are hallmarks of our democracy."
Legislative outcome Passed House 245-182-5 roll #94 on Feb. 26; pass Senate 59-41 roll #49 on March 14; Vetoed by Pres. Trump; veto override failed, 248-181-3 (2/3 required), roll #127 on March 26
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