ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, condemned the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids happening across the nation, arguing that they are resulting in illegal immigrants not seeking medical care for their children.
“We haven’t mentioned hospitals. We’ve got children, some of those children, right? With terminal diseases and issues, highest risk, whose families are … faced with, ‘if I go, the outcome is terrible – no one to do this healthcare and take of my children and I’m deported or we all are, but if I don’t go I don’t receive the healthcare that I know would potentially save my child or at least make sure my child isn’t suffering.’ I just can’t believe this is where we are headed, and the reality is we are seeing these widespread deportations with no due process,” the congresswoman said in a news conference with a group of Democratic lawmakers last week at Rising Hope United Methodist Mission Church. “This is something that should scare every American.”
The lawmakers held the press conference in response to ICE agents apprehending several men outside the church as they were leaving a homeless shelter there last month.
Grisham said many undocumented immigrants help the economy and support Social Security for others since they pay taxes but do not collect Social Security benefits.
“How about this stat? $15 billion to Social Security, which, by the way, in large part doesn’t go back, right? And I don’t agree with this aspect but just to put it in an economic, just a sheer numbers perspective, it’s a windfall for Social Security, which means its supporting everybody else in that pipeline,” she said.
Reverend Dr. Keary Kincannon of Rising Hope Mission Church said raids near places of worship should cease.
“This kind of activity has got to stop. What happened here at Rising Hope needs to be the last time that happens here in our community or any community across the United States. It doesn’t represent who we are. We are a nation of immigrants. We are a nation who has welcomed people to our lands,” he said.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said the lawmakers at the press conference stand in “solidarity” with the U.S. immigrant community. He also said Democrats agree with Trump’s support for “law and order” but said the nation’s laws should be “read in the context of our morals.”
“The new policies of the Trump administration exist to incite fear. They exist to spread terror and misunderstanding and insecurity throughout the immigrant neighborhoods to make them feel unwelcome, to make them flee,” he said.
“We are a nation of laws and with Mr. Trump we agree we all want law and order. We all want peaceful neighborhoods where criminals are apprehended but morality is deeper than law. Morality is the basis upon which law should be built. Tragically, the U.S. Congress has failed year after year after year to amend the law to keep it in sync with fundamental morality. We refuse to even have a conversation or pass a bill that would yield common-sense, widely evolved enforcement immigration reform,” he added.
Beyer said “our morals” tell us not to let our neighbors live in fear of deportation.
“We do not need to arrest and deport the neighbors among us who came there once upon a time in order to work hard humbly and honestly for a better life,” he said.
“We’ve got to push back on the culture of fear that the president is intentionally trying to create through his executive orders and with these ICE tactics,” he added. “We know they don’t make our communities safer.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said Trump was wrong to insinuate in his joint address to Congress that law enforcement should have a “special focus” on crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
“They’re more victimized by crime than the norm; because of that, they need to feel conformable interacting with our law enforcement,” Kaine said.
In his joint address, Trump mentioned that Congress should work on some sort of reform of the nation’s legal immigration system. Kaine suggested that Congress resurrect the 2013 immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, which offered a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said she personally told Trump that his immigration policies are wrong. Sanchez said an ICE official told her that the agency’s “sensitive locations” policy, which tries to avoid enforcement activities in places such as schools and places of worship, is still in effect.
“This administration cannot be trusted with any assurances,” she said, citing the raid that occurred near Rising Hope.