tv [untitled] CSPAN June 15, 2009 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
advocacy being part of the u.s. caribbean, u.s. virgin islands. madam speaker, i rise today to honor the caribbean american heritage month. i thank my friend, the gentlelady from california, ms. barbara lee, for her very hard work and her enduring commitment to the people of the caricom region and for ensuring that every june we i bring recognition to the many contributions made by caribbean americans and caribbean people -- people of caribbean descent and the issues facing the nations of caricom and the caribbean american diaspora. . i have the honor of representing new york's 11th congressional district. previously represented in part by cheryly chisholm, the first
african-american member of congress and the child of caribbean american immigrants from bar badeows and guyana. of the prominent caribbean americans that we may be aware of or have known throughout our history include such lumenaries as jean bap tease, the founder of chicago. founding father alexander hamilton, who was born in nives, actor and social activist, harry belafonte, revolutionary marcus garvey, noted journalist, again eiffel, hazel scott, the first woman of color to have her own television show, malcolm x, revolutionary. our own attorney general, eric holder, former secretary of state colin powell, super model tyson beckford, athlete and coach, patrick ewe wing, boxer
and athlete, lennox lewis and wyclef jean, performer. and the list goes on and on. as a child of jamaican immigrants, i have been an outspoken advocate for caribbean american and caribbean issues and concerns my entire public life. and probably carry forth my district's rich caribbean heritage. the success of the caribbean immigrant and their caribbean american descendence has been evident in every field of endeavor. while caribbean americans have made great strides and very historic contributions to the prosperity and strengthening of our nation, there's still lingering issues that adversely affect caribbean americans in the united states. caribbean immigrants often have very little money or access to resources when making their
transition to the united states, making them vulnerable targets of immigration fraud. i have introduced h.r. 1992, the immigration fraud and prevention act of 2009, making it a federal crime to willfully misrepresent the immigration process through fraud and false representation. i have also introduced h.r. 2071 which directs the secretary of commerce to include caribbean descendents as an option on census questionnaires. i believe that this will bring recognition to the broad diversity of caribbean natives and descendents that our country home and ensure an accurate -- that call our country home and ensure an accurate account and proper presentation and resource. i was also pleased this year to be present at the summit of the americas along with our own president, boehm, earlier this
year -- barack obama, earlier this year. that summit was the beginning of what i know will be an enduring commitment to a mutually beneficial relationship with our third border. our nation's third border shared with the caricom community links not only families, not only travel and industry, but i believe the security of our own united states and the nation -- and our island nation neighbors. in 2007, a joint report by the united nations office of drug and crime and the world bank linked some of the rising crime rates in caribbean nations to an increase in drug shipment. in the previous congress i introduced h.res. 1504, which calls for increased cooperation between the united states and caribbean officials to combat
this problem. last week i stood proudly on this floor to express my support for provisions which were in h.r. 2410, the foreign relations authorization act of 2009, which added the caribbean community or caricom to the ma ridia initiative. i also want to commend the honorable barbara lee for her work in establishing the cheryly chisholm education alex change program authorized within the bill -- educational exchange program authorized within the bill. madam speaker, it is with great pride think a stand here a descendent of caribbean immigrants, able to stand in the house of representatives, second generation representing a
constituency that is the dispora of the caribbean region and i'm proud here that we here in the u.s. capitol take this time to commemorate the very accomplishments, the binding of our nations and our people in making sure that we strengthen and build prosperity here in the united states and share that good wealth and democracy to the region from which so many have come. having said that, i yield back to the gentlelady from the virgin islands. mrs. christensen: thank you, congresswoman clarke, for your remarks this evening and thank you most of all, though, for your leadership on behalf of the caribbean countries. we appreciate the work that you do, both on your committee, your subcommittee, the subcommittee that you chair on homeland
security, and in all of the work that addresses issues in the caribbean. thank you for joining us this evening. i would like now to yield such time as she might consume to the gentlelady from texas, congresswoman sheila jackson lee. ms. jackson lee: let me thank the gentlelady for yielding to me and allow me to acknowledge as well the congressional black caucus for the collected effort that they have made and thank our president chairwoman for the 2004 resolution, house resolution 517, that ultimately was proclaimed by the president of the united states. this is an enriching day and an opportunity for us to emphasize the vastness of diversity that is is in this country and i stand here as a caribbean american proudly exercising and relishing in the history of my ancestry. let me also acknowledge the work that we have collectively done. as a ranking member on the immigration subcommittee, we have had a history of working
for the issues of parody as it relates to the opportunities for haitianans to become statused here in the united states as we have seen the cubans also have this opportunity through what we call the wet food, dry foot provision -- wet foot, dry foot provision. we have worked unending to make sure that comes about and as we look forward into the comprehensive immigration reform debate i hope that language from the save america comprehensive immigration legislation that i authored will be part of the debate so that our reform will include all aspects of those who are seeking to be statused and particular particularly those from the caribbean. we have worked on issues that address the questions of many caribbean leaders, when there were massive deportations of individuals from the united states who had never been to the caribbean, had never been to the countries of which their birth and therefore they were coming and providing the need for extra
resources by caribbean leaders. this is paying attention to the issues of the caribbean and recognizing that they are a vital ally to us and that was recognized by the recent authorization of the meeting in the caribbean in trinidad where many caribbean nations came and i believe the new relationship was cemented between this new president, this congress and the caribbean leaders. so as we speak about the greatness of caribbean americans, i want to emphasize that we should also be engaged with the caribbean as our allies, as those who can participate with us in homeland security and securing the borders. as we look to caribbean americans who have made great strides here in this country, caribbean americans are educated, soldiers, politicians, athlete it's, economists, historians, activists, doctors, lawyers and everyday men and women.
there are those of us who enjoy the music of the caribbean and one of our most famous poets and musicians was bob marlee, whose reggae music continues to permeate the music channels and the ears of americans. we are proud of the contributions of caribbean americans. of those like kareem abdul-jabbar, those like timothy duncan, those like sydney port yea, those like -- sydney portier and of course colin powell, the former secretary of state, a caribbean american. certainly the honorable cheryly chiss am who ran as an african-american woman for president of the united states of america. bold, unashamed of their roots and history, ready to make a difference, that is the character of caribbean americans and those who live in the caribbean. let me also thank john conyers
who i worked with as we visited haiti and went to see many of those who have been incarcerated because of the, if you will, the inconsistency of leadership in haiti. we are delighted to see the president leading out but we visited many who were political prisoners and worked with the then bush administration to try to secure their freedom. i went to -- i want to continue to express my appreciation to chairman conyers for the work that he has continuously done working in haiti when we traveled there together. so there are many aspects of the caribbean that we can celebrate. i'm here to celebrate the great connection that i've had the privilege of having and i'm delighted to be joined on the floor of the house by congresswoman christensen as well as congresswoman clarke and congresswoman -- congressman payne and the chairwoman who is
now serving as speaker pro tempore. we do this because we want to ensure that people realize how great america is and it is home great because it relies upon the strength of those who come from different cultures and bring that wonder the to our wonderful nation -- wonderment to our wonderful nation. i want to acknowledge the creation of the institute of caribbean studies in 1994, i want to acknowledge thed a hock caribbean council in washington, d.c., that disbanded and celebrating june as the caribbean american heritage month in washington, d.c. this is just part of the bill that was to make in the month that we celebrate caribbean heritage month. finally, might i say proudly that i want to speak of my grandparents, mr. and mrs. jackson. my grandmother and grandfather were true sons and daughters at that time of the king and queen because jamaica was then a colony of great britain.
however, their dignity allowed them to know that jamaica could be a free and democratic nation and through the leadership of those in jamaica who recognized that it could be a free nation, they secured their freedom and what a celelbratory time that was. i want to acknowledge so many prime ministers but former prime minister manly, former prime minister patterson, all great leaders that brought greatness to the caribbean and to acknowledge the president prime minister as he continues to work, to acknowledge the first woman prime minister as well that was in jamaica for at least a time in the last two years. we know that she's been called with great love and affection but we respect the service she has given. my grandparents left jamaica and wept to work in panama, in the
panama canal, and i had the privilege of going to the panama canal for a homeland security mission and seeing my grandfather's name listed as one of those who worked on the panama canal. as he came to the united states and then settled between south carolina and brooklyn, new york, to know that he was part of that wonderful tradition of history and heritage, the wonderful cuisine of rice and peas and many other good things that we continue to enjoy culturally in my family, that i raised my children on, that i was raised on, so that this nexus of knowing your roots is so very key. so what i say to all who are listening, this nation is valuable because it respects the culture of all of us and today we salute caribbean americans and i've been privileged and proud to serve in the united states congress with that history but also to work on a number of issues helping to make their land, their nations better and creating a better partnership between the united states and the caribbean. with that, i'd be happy to yield
back to the distinguished gentlelady. mrs. christensen: thank you, congresswoman jackson lee, and thank you for your hard work and service and support for all issues relating to the caribbean. i know you're very proud of your jamaican heritage because you speak of it very often. thank you. at this time i'd like to yield such time as he might consume to the founding chair of the friends of the caribbean caucus, the gentleman from new jersey, congressman donald payne. mr. pane: i ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks. thank you. let me commend the congressional black caucus and its chairperson this evening, barbara lee, from california for the outstanding job that she is doing as chair of the congressional black
caucus and as the caucus moves forward being the conscience of the congress, let me also commend representative fudge who is from the great state of ohio who continues to lead this special order on our evenings. of course to our caribbean queen , delegate donna christian-christensen who as you know is our representative from the u.s. virgin islands. not only is she an expert on the caribbean, but as we all know she is an internist, physician and has been very, very helpful as we move forward in a very difficult health care reform. and her input is invaluable.
i also want to commend her for the recent involvement in a documentary about the relationship between st. croix and puerto rico that went through the history of the sugar cane industry back at the turn of the century in the 19 -- late 1800's, early 1900's and the number of puerto ricans who came to st. croix to work there. this was shown last weekend, will be shown in new york and has received many praises for the interesting history that it brings about. let me just say that it's a pleasure to be here as chairman of the subcommittee on african global health, but chair of the caribbean caucus, a bipartisan caucus, that we have here to kind of expand our relationship with the caribbean that this
american heritage month is well deserved. it's recognizing the diversity and success of people from the caribbean. you have heard other speakers talk about the many people from the caribbean who have been so outstanding. the achievements and impacts made from caribbean people have continually made a positive contribution to the well-being of american society. we could go back to our beginning. alexander hamilton came from the caribbean, our first secretary of the treasury. we have of course colin pell from alexander hamilton was from st. kitts. secretary colin powell is from the caribbean, sicily tyson, we have heard w.e.b. du bois, james weldon johnson, malcolm x. harry bell fonty -- belefonte and sidney poitier.
in my own district two people i might talk about here, antoinette kay elliss william and dr. claire nelson. the founder and president of the institute of caribbean studies is known for her leadership in making caribbean americans heard. and i'm proud to say that i have worked with her on a regular basis as many of us do and we admire her and the great work that she does. we just had the opportunity to be with her last week and we are extremely pleased at the outstanding work that the institute is doing. the second person i mentioned, dr. antoinette k. ellis williams is a leader in my congressional district, currently serves as president for the he section valley health care and serves on the -- essex valley health care and serves on the board of east general hospital. she's part of a nonprofit organization of doctors, nurses,
and other professionals who give back to the community through their services. she is a founder and director of the statewide female leadership development institute and research center at the new jersey city institute. the caribbean community's presence also plays a wide role in our elections, especially in my district, where the greater settlement of many people from the caribbean in east orange and irvington and newark make their voices heard. past elections we have seen many people from the caribbean communities educate caribbeans on the awareness of participation in recognizing june as caribbean month. my work with the caucus this congress has continually focused on enhancing relationships between the united states and the caribbean states by reviewing proposals and pending legislation that has direct
impact on the caribbean. i believe that by facilitating an ongoing dialogue we can continue to recognize the caribbean as america's third border for trade, for political stability, for fights against drug trafficking, and for economic development. we need to remember that the caribbean is not just a place for vacationing but it's a place in need of economic development with the current open trade regime, the challenge for caribbean is to quickly develop high productive sectors that could drive the region's development. we know that the same problems that have stricken us in the u.s. have stricken the caribbean, h.i.v. and aids has become a problem, but we are very pleased that the pepfar program now has been expanded to 14 caribbean countries. the epidemic has claimed close to 300,000 lives -- or 300,000
people living in the caribbean with the virus. and it's the leading cause of death from people from 15 to 44. we know that our haiti, the life expectancy has also been impacted tremendously by h.i.v. and aids. however like i said we have a tremendous relationship with our friends in the caribbean. there are several problems we need to help them on. deportation as you know in 1996 the u.s. law changed anyone convicted of an offense had to face deportation from the united states. as a result many of these small nation countries have had to absorb persons who may have come to the united states as infants but have engaged in crime and now are sent back 20, 30, 40
years later as hardened criminals. many of the countries in the caribbean is having a difficult time dealing with these deportees. another problem that we see is with the drug trafficking in mexico. we are finding that they are pushing drug trafficking into the caribbean and we need to assist the caribbean in fighting this -- and give them assistance in law enforcement and training and coast guard assistance. but wire very proud of many of the -- we are very proud of many of the haitians as i mentioned. track and field is something that they have excelled in. i recall when i was running back in the early 1950's, george rhoden was a quarter miler who won the helsinki gold medal in the olympics. but george rhoden and many other jamaicans came up and went to
morgan state university and at the relays these jamaicans in the late 1940's, early 1950's started to get recognition. we know in the beijing olympics, bolt, at 21 years old won the 100 meters and the 200 meters. he was one of the youngest persons ever to win those events and the first person since mr. lewis from new jersey to win both sprints in the olympics. we have had many outstanding people that started politics in new york. jack way back, fellow from st. lucia, he was born in 1905, moved up to new york, high school dropout, went to work for a company and worked his way up from a janitor to become a vice president of the firm. became active in politics and he
became new york city democratic political leader, loyal to the tamm manny hall -- tamany hall feeaso. jack won seven straight elections to the new york state asimmably representing his harlem district. in 1953 he was elected president of manhattan becoming the first african-american to hold the post. elected more than a decade before the rise of big city black mayors in the 1960's, he was the highest ranking african-american municipal officer in the nation with an annual salary at that time of 25d,000. he was the highest paid black office holder in the country. he served as manhattan burrough president for several terms. and because of his emerging strength, the powers that be interrupted his career and he
left. but jack showed that politics was something that many of our caribbean folks brought to the leadership of politics in our country. and i'll just finally end by a person that we all admired so much and has been mentioned earlier, mr. michael manly, son of norman manly who served as the prime minister, 1959 to 1962 but michael manly came in and became three-term prime minister from 1972 to 1980 and 1989 to 1992. he stepped down because of bad health. but just look at what michael manly did in jamaica. a minimum wage for all workers. free education at secondary and university level to the extent that space was available. institute of literacy campaign.
subdivision of what he called idle land to poor blacks. formation of agrarian cooperatives where they worked together. price control on numerous staples to benefit the poor. reduction of the voting age to 18 thus increasing the black vote that then was able to continue to move forward. listen to this, institutionalizing paid maternity leave and free milk to mothers. this was way back then, in jamaica where as you know we are still fighting to get family leave instituted in some our states in the united states of america. 30 years later. and so a person like mr. manly, michael manly, did such an outstanding job and so we are just pleased to celebrate this heritage month. once again i certainly commend
the gentlelady from the u.s. virgin islands for her leadership and i know that we will have a wonderful month as we celebrate the great attributes that the people from the caribbean had made not only to the united states, europe, and of course the caribbean. with that i yield back the balance of my time. mrs. christensen: thank you, congressman payne. thank you for your leadership both -- as our leader in africa and global health, as well as for all of the work you have done with us in the caribbean caucus. thank you for joining us this evening. madam speaker, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter your statement into the record this evening. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. mrs. christensen: thank you. there are so many men and women of caribbean american heritage who have contributed greatly in so many events that have grated ties that forever bind us together. president obama and his proclamation of this year
recognizing caribbean american heritage month wrote, and i quote, generations of immigrants have plea served the traditions of their home lands and they define our nation's identity. this multilingual and multiethnic tradition has strengthened our social fabric and enriched the diversity of our nation. he continues, we are neighbors, partners, and friends. we share the same aspirations for our children and restrive for the very same freedoms. together we can meet the common challenges we face, end of quote. i want to highlight several of those ties that bind. the birth of our nation was supported by many caribbean islands. many do not know that the guns that were manned by the colonies during the american revolution were gun powdered by shipmen from the caribbean. while i believe most of it originated in st. kitts it was in the st. croix harbor where that gunpowder was loaded for the shipmen to the early