Weekly Update From Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Eshoo to Travel to Texas to Examine Detention Center
Today I will be traveling to McAllen and Brownsville, Texas to tour the McAllen Border Patrol Processing Center and the Port Isabel ICE Detention Center. I hope to witness firsthand the conditions of the families, attempt to find out where the approximately 2,500 infants, toddlers and children have been disbursed to, and what plans the agencies have for reuniting families. I hope my visit to the detention centers will bring some solace to the children and families who are being held due to an appalling policy of choice, not law.
Highlights of Legislation the House Took up This Week
H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act”
This week the House completed consideration of a package of bills to address the opioid epidemic in our country. The bill makes important investments in access to treatment by expanding who can administer treatments such as buprenorphine and naloxone to opioid-addicted and recovering individuals, and what substance use disorder services Medicare can reimburse for. These policies will help those suffering from opioid use disorder to access the critical treatment they need.
The package also incents the use of non-opioid alternatives. Over-prescription of opioids is a factor in this crisis and it’s why we have to move to innovative and non-addictive alternatives for pain management to stem the tide of addiction in our country.
H.R. 4760, Securing America’s Future Act
This week the House rejected on a bipartisan vote an immigration proposal entitled the Securing America’s Future Act. It falls short in several ways. It allows Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to apply for temporary legal status that must be renewed every three years, but it does not extend these protections to those who lost their status since the President announced he would end the program. It fails to achieve even the President’s requirements for any immigration bill by failing to provide a pathway to citizenship or even permanent legal status for undocumented young people who were brought to our country as children.
The bill also does nothing to address the issue of separation of families. In fact, it worsens it by removing legal protections for children apprehended at the border with their families, allowing immigration authorities to detain them indefinitely or deport them more rapidly. The bill severely curtails legal immigration by ending the diversity lottery, further restricting eligibility for asylum seekers, and limiting family reunification to spouses and minor children. Family reunification has been a cornerstone of our immigration laws since 1965, allowing immigrants to sponsor their immediate family members. In total, the limits on family reunification and other changes to legal immigration in this bill would reduce legal immigration by nearly 40 percent.
The bill failed by a vote of 193 to 231, with over 40 Republicans voting against it. I think the House should pass the bipartisan Dream Act to ensure Dreamers can remain in the only country they’ve ever known. If Speaker Ryan would allow the Dream Act to be voted on, it would pass by the House on a bipartisan basis.
Legislation Anna Introduced and Cosponsored this Week
Cosponsored H.R. 3459, the VA Staffing and Vacancies Transparency Act
This legislation requires the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to post the number of job vacancies at the VA and report to Congress on what steps the Department is taking to reach full staffing capacity. The Department currently has posted only 2,300 job openings despite needing to fill over 50,000 jobs, 92 percent of which are doctors, nurses, mental health counselors and other clinical professionals. Three years after a series of high-profile scandals and Congress appropriating $5 billion to hire additional medical staff, the VA has yet to make significant progress in addressing long wait times for care and the prolonged staffing shortages that have reached crisis levels in many places across the country.
Those who wear the uniform of our country and sacrifice for it should be given the care, benefits and support they need. The best way to ensure our veterans have access to timely and high quality care is to make sure every facility has the necessary number of full-time employees.
Cosponsored H.R. 6135, Keep Families Together Act
Together with almost 200 colleagues, I introduced the Keep Families Together Act, legislation to permanently end family separation at the border. Specifically, the bill prohibits immigration officials from taking children away from their parents except in extreme circumstances, i.e. if it is determined that a child is endangered by a parent, and delays the prosecution of refugees until their asylum claims are processed. This would end the President’s zero-tolerance policy.
Policy Letters Anna Wrote and Cosigned this Week
Letter to the Energy and Commerce Committee Demanding a Hearing on Child Detention Centers
The thousands of children who have been separated from their families are suffering harm and severe trauma due to this inhumane policy. I joined colleagues this week in writing to the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee demanding an immediate hearing on the wellbeing of the children who were forcibly separated from their parents and placed into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Last week the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics said that this separation risks causing “irreparable harm to lifelong development by disrupting a child’s brain architecture.” To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
Letter to the Secretaries of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) on details about immigrant children separated from their parents
As we learn more about the devastating effects of President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, we’re seeing images of young boys being detained, but we have no information about the status of young girls who have been separated at the border.
I joined my colleagues this week in writing to the Secretaries of DHS and HHS to release more details about the separated immigrant children. The American people have a right to know where the girls are and how they are being cared for. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
Letter to California State Assembly Members on Net Neutrality
This week the California State Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee gutted a bill that would have given California the strongest net neutrality protections in the nation. Sadly, the Committee included amendments to the legislation that stripped certain protections in the bill that would prevent the largest Internet Service Providers from favoring their own content over their competitors, resulting in decreased competition and fewer choices for consumers.
I wrote to Assemblymen Santiago and Obernotle, urging them to maintain all the comprehensive protections in the original bill, and adopt legislation that would set the gold standard for the rest of the nation. To read the full letter, CLICK HERE.
I hosted a Town Hall Meeting with Congresswoman Jackie Speier this week with VA employees at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s Palo Alto campus to discuss what we can do to help them with their mission. Employees raised a range of issues from pay not being matched to the cost of living, concerns about the privatization of the VA and the effect this would have on employees’ ability to provide care for veterans, and security issues related to the tragic event in Yountville.
I joined my colleagues this week at a press conference announcing the introduction of the Keep Families Together Act to permanently end the President’s inhumane policy of ripping children away from their parents.
In the Words of My Constituents
Every week hundreds of my constituents call and write to me to express their concerns, share their passions and ask questions regarding a wide range of legislation and policies. I actually read every communication and every constituent receives a personal response from me regarding their specific questions and comments.
Here’s a snapshot of the issues constituents wrote and called me about this week:
· 1,657 constituents wrote to me in opposition to the President’s policy of separating children from their families at the border.
· 165 constituents wrote to me in support of the National Flood Insurance Program
· 116 constituents wrote to me to in opposition to the Farm Bill’s cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Anna in the News
Anna’s work is written about in the news.
This week I joined MSNBC’s Hardball, KQED and KRON4 to discuss the President’s family separation policy and my upcoming trip to Texas.
To watch my full MSNBC interview, CLICK HERE.
To watch my full KRON4 interview, CLICK HERE.
Anna’s Recommended Reading
I frequently read articles or see videos I think my constituents would benefit from.
Washington Post Op-Ed (6/17/18) “Laura Bush: Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart’”
Americans across the political spectrum oppose the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the border. Former First Lady Laura Bush eloquently made the case for why the Administration must end its heartless family separation policy.
New York Times Op-Ed (6/20/18) “Trump’s Small Hostages”
This powerful Op-Ed calls the terrified children incarcerated because of the President’s policy what they are: hostages.
You can find more press releases, commentary and information on issues at my website, eshoo.house.gov. And please visit Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more ways to stay informed.