Statement on Immigration
February 23, 2017
Anti-immigrant rhetoric and hysteria were a central theme of Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency. That continues to be a central theme of his presidency. Based on false assertions, or as they are now termed by his circle, alternate facts, Trump falsely claimed that immigrants were a security threat (not true, with exception of 9-11, it is well documented that most terrorist attacks are homegrown).
Immigrants are taking American jobs (not true, and in addition many immigrants open and run businesses creating jobs and expanding the economy in innovative ways).
Immigrants are driving down American wages (probably not in any significant way, but if they are it is because immigrant workers are being exploited with threats of deportation, so we should be fighting the exploitation of immigrant workers, not deporting them).
That immigrants were consuming public resources and not contributing public resources (not true, immigrants pay taxes: federal, social security, state, local, sales, and cannot benefit from social security and a host of other programs).
That immigrants are somehow undermining our culture (not true, immigrants are a constant and endlessly rich source for enriching our culture, for helping us understand the world in new ways, and in giving us new insight into already existing American culture).
What is true is that, with the exception of Native Americans, we are all immigrants or the decedents of immigrants regardless of how we got here: in the hold of slave ships, in search of a better life, escaping from oppression or religious persecution, recruited as workers on rail roads or farms. Most, if not all immigrants were, at one time or another, subject to discrimination, exclusion, oppression and or exploitation, imprisonment or internment.
What is true is that anti-immigrant rhetoric and hysteria has a long and shameful history in our country. It has been used, or more accurately misused, to divide us in political campaigns, in anti-union campaigns, as a tool to pass repressive legislation, and as propaganda to push us into war.
What is true is that the ripping apart of families is a cruel and gross violation of human rights, that the arrest and deportation of an individual seeking protection of spousal abuse is abhorrent and incompatible with any notion of justice, that ICE raids on work places is reminiscent of Nazi atrocities and incompatible with any notion of justice, that the extended detention of individuals for deportation is a violation of human and constitutional rights and is incompatible with any notion of justice, that the encouragement or toleration of “border patrols” by individuals outside of official law enforcement is dangerous and leads directly to an undermining of the law.
Our constitution lays out some special privileges for citizens, such as the right to vote and the right to hold public office. But in enumerating the rights of the people, such as in the bill of rights, there is no reference to a different standard for non-citizens. I do not believe, and I will not accept, that non-citizens should be denied due process of law, that non-citizens should be denied freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, of the right to peaceably assemble or petition the government for redress of grievances, the right against unreasonable search or seizure,
My own viewpoint on citizenship is deeply influenced by my understanding and appreciation of the Fourteenth Amendment which states, in part that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." As I learned in school this reversed parts of the Dred Scott decision which had declared that African Americans were not and could not become citizens of the United States or enjoy any of the privileges and immunities of citizenship and which itself was a strenghening of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States "not subject to any foreign power". I prize citizenship, but I know to the very core of my being the cost and the harm to the individual and to the nation of denying basic human and constitutional rights all our people.
Therefore, I am laying out some basic principles which I will be applying as we move forward on the question of immigration:
1) I will oppose anti-immigrant rhetoric, anti-immigrant hysteria on every front and at every opportunity, and will counter such rhetoric, hysteria and “alternate facts” with documented fact and lessons of our history
2) I will not vote to approve funding for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) as long as it engages in policies and actions which I view to be in violation of the constitution. Should the Supreme Court issue decisions which violates such protections I will seek amendments to the constitution to clarify the law
3) I will seek and promote legislation opposing and reversing executive actions such as President Trump’s latest executive orders.
4) I will continue to support legislation offering a path to citizenship as I consistently have in the past.