By Shayna Lewis on March 12, 2019
The first months of the 116th Congress have been busy, particularly as the House of Representatives has taken up its mantle to act as a check on the White House, and on the President’s anti-immigrant agenda specifically.
In the past two weeks alone, no fewer than seven hearings were held to examine and investigate the Administration’s policy and its implementation. Last Wednesday morning, congressional committees hosted four hearings to analyze the President’s recent actions and evaluate legislative solutions, including one on protecting Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients in the House Committee on the Judiciary and another in the House Committee on Homeland Security focused on border security, at which Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was scheduled as the only witness.
UUSC welcomes this long-overdue congressional and attention. The lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents and countless more individuals waiting along U.S. borders hang in the balance. The Trump administration’s immigration policy has had countless unnecessary harmful effects, summarized briefly in the opening remarks of the House Committee on Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (Miss.):
The Department of Homeland Security separated thousands of children from their parents at the border. Two small children died in the Department’s custody. The President shut down the Federal government over demands for more taxpayer money for a border wall. And most recently, the President declared a nonexistent “emergency” at the border because Congress would not capitulate to his funding demands.
Congressional oversight is one way to hold the Trump administration accountable for the human cost of its political agenda. We are also encouraged by the steps the House Judiciary Committee has taken toward advancing legislative solutions to the problems this administration has created, particularly around TPS and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; program recipients are commonly referred to as “Dreamers”).
Millions of individuals who have built their lives in the United States are at risk of deportation because the Trump administration has canceled protections which allow them to work and go to school in the United States. As we wrote in our organizational statement submitted to the Judiciary Committee, “Removing individuals’ status after they have built lives in the United States exposes thousands of families to the risk of separation from their loved ones, while also depriving the country of the contributions DACA recipients, DED holders, and TPS holders make to our shared communities as parents, workers, business owners, taxpayers, neighbors, and friends.”
We are grateful that the Committee is addressing the effects of these cancellations and look forward to Congress’ continued work on this issue. As Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler stated in his opening remarks, “Passing legislation that provides permanent protection, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS recipients, is a top priority for this Committee, and for the House of Representatives.” We couldn’t agree more, and we call for the prompt passage of such legislation.
A list of recent committee hearings and links to their recordings can be found below.
House Committee on the Judiciary
- Oversight of the Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy
- The National Emergencies Act of 1976 (Subcomittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties)
- Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients
Read UUSC’s organizational statement on protecting Dreamers and TPS holders.
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
- A Global Crisis: Refugees, Migrants and Asylum Seekers (Subcommittee: Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations)
House Committee on Appropriations
- Reviewing the Administration’s Unaccompanied Children Program (Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies)
Read UUSC’s organizational statement on the Unaccompanied Children Program.
- The President’s 2019 National Emergency Declaration Circumventing Congress to Build a Border Wall & its Effect on Military Construction and Readiness (Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies)
House Committee Homeland Security
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
- Oversight of Customs and Border Protection’s Response to the Smuggling of Persons at the Southern Border
Photo Credit: iStock – YayaErnst