tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 10, 2015 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
we are just asking for more understanding. [applause] >> we want to thank you all for coming here and listening so carefully and participating in the conversation. the arizona state university college law program for organ is eyeing -- for organizing the event. thank you for coming tonight, and we hope we will see you at the heard many times. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> hillary clinton is expected to announce her candidacy for the presidency on sunday. she will launch her campaign with a video message on social media. next week she will head to iowa. on monday, marco rubio will be announcing his entry into the race for the white house from miami, become the very -- becoming the third republican. you have live coverage at 5:30 p.m. of his announcement on c-span. this congressional recess c-span has been profiling new members of congress. steve scully: representative
norma torres from california's 35th congressional district. as a freshman member of congress, what is the difference serving here and your time in the state senate? representative torres: it is quiet a difference between the two chambers. i should say the three chambers. the biggest difference i think is our inability to work across the aisle. in california, we certainly did a better job with that. mr. scully: how do you fix it? representative torres: i think members just have to commit to working together. we have to commit personal time getting to know each other traveling in each other's districts, and learning about the issues that are important and respecting those issues. and the differences we have between each other, i think, is important.
mr. scully: i would suspect another big difference is the amount of money it takes to run for congress and to get reelected. what has that been like for you? representative torres: it has been incredibly hard to get here. the money involved in politics makes it almost impossible for someone like me, an average mom, a 911 dispatcher by trade, it's incredible that i made it this far, but here i am. mr. scully: why did you decide to seek elective office? representative torres: i answered a call as a 911 dispatcher of an 11-year-old girl who died at the hands of her uncle. it really pushed me into a political world that i frankly did not know existed. i was the average mom, raising my children, all i wanted to do was go to work, come home, and pay my bills. over that issue, it was a very difficult time for the city of
los angeles and the state of california. we were facing proposition 187 at the time, and i was asking for changes to help the primarily spanish-speaking community in los angeles to hire more bilinguals and to be more responsive to their needs. mr. scully: let me go back to that story, because you have talked about it, but let me take it one step further. what happened? you get the call. she is with her uncle. she is 11 years old. tell us this all story. representative torres: it was a very hot summer night. there were only three dispatchers that spoke spanish at that time. and this person called for help. the call started very early with her uncle taking his live-in girlfriend into -- he put a gun
to her head and dragged her next door where the little girl lived. it took 20 minutes for me to answer her call. by the time i answered it, all i could hear was screaming. later, i learned that the horrific sounds i was hearing was her head being bashed against the wall. she was shot five times point-blank. the person that shot her fled. our officers were there within 20 seconds of me advising them that there was a crime in progress. i really felt that we could have done more. so i did more. i began a process of trying to get my department to be more sensitive, to recruit bilingual dispatchers, not only in spanish, but in other languages. then i had to go before the public safety committee in los
angeles. and many times i had to testify against my own department. certainly, that is not easy to do. mr. scully: did they apprehend the suspect? representative torres: they did. eventually, he turned himself in. he served, i believe, four or six years in jail for that crime. i spent many months waiting to go to trial. i was her only witness. it was the call that captured the shooting, the screams, her last words, which i really did not know what they were until i went through the process of translating the tape for the officers. her last words were, "uncle, pleased don't kill me."
in many ways, it changed my entire life. mr. scully: what does that tell you about our criminal justice system that he only served six years? representative torres: it was very disappointing disappointing that his family was well off and they were able to hire an attorney who was able to convince the jury that he was intoxicated and, therefore, he did not know what he was doing. it was a crime of passion. mr. scully: what was the girl's name? representative torres: jahira. mr. scully: have you talked to her family over the years? representative torres: i have not.
mr. scully: that was the starting point for your political career? representative torres: that was my starting point. i often say that i hate politics, not really. it's the work that i have to do to do what i love to do, and that is serve my community. it has been my life. mr. scully: you were born in guatemala. you came to the united states when? representative torres: i came to the united states in 1970. i was sent here by my parents to live with my father's oldest brother. he lived in whittier california. his youngest brother was here, but was serving in the u.s. navy at the time. my mother was very, very ill. guatemala war-torn country at that time. there was a lot of violence. my father felt that they could not take care of me because they were so busy with my mother's illness, that it was better for me to come to the u.s. i was told i was coming on vacation, but in many ways i think i owe this country a great deal. i have had a wonderful life
here. mr. scully: did you speak any english? representative torres: i did not. back then, we did not have in -- an esol program. i went to school in a classroom with other kids. i learned english fairly quickly because as a child you don't have work, you don't have a lot of things on your mind other than that i want to be able to play with other kids and communicate with them. mr. scully: what do you remember about your mom? she has since passed away, correct? representative torres: i do remember a great deal. i think that is unfortunate. mr. scully: and your dad? representative torres: my dad is living very close to where i live. he remarried. i moved back in with him within eight years of me leaving
guatemala. i ended up back with my dad in my teenage years. that's difficult for a girl not having her mom for any child. mr. scully: brothers, sisters, cousins? representative torres: i have two older sisters, all seven years apart. so i was the baby. they still treat me like that. mr. scully: why? representative torres: i think they have always tried to protect me. they have always felt since i was the youngest that they needed to protect me. mr. scully: your first elected office was in city hall, correct? representative torres: yes, i ran 2000. i was a member of, ask me. at that time president mcintyre challenged the membership to run for elected office. he said, i don't care what you run for, county commissioner whatever it is, put your name on the ballot and run.
america needs their workers to have a voice at the table. america needs their workers to be at the negotiating table. i took that to heart. after being through what i went through in the city of los angeles, i felt that if they can do it, why can't i? i love my community. i want to help my community. and i have a lot to offer. i won by 75 votes. i broke my ankle five weeks before the election and rented a wheelchair and kept on going. i defeated an incumbent who had been in office for 11 years. he had switched parties. because the area that we represented was very conservative, republican, and i defeated him with his own constituency. mr. scully: how did you break your ankle? representative torres: walking on a broken sidewalk. i continued to walk for a block.
i had no idea that it was broken. when i got home, my sister was there, and she's a nurse. as soon as i took off my tennis shoes, my foot blew up, and she said we're going to the hospital. she took me to the hospital. mr. scully: would you ever have imagined that today you would in the house of representatives? representative torres: absolutely not. back then, people said that she only cares about certain things heard there was an issue with the l.a. county fair that i had taken on. they were proposing an expansion project. they had done and eir, and there were 67 issues that needed to be negotiated, and i was involved
in all of that gaining the respect of my community and the trust of my community was really important but i never thought that i would ever make it this far. mr. scully: let me ask you about union membership, because it is on the decline across the country. why is that? from your past experiences, is there a way that you could change that curve? representative torres: i think that in many ways labor has gotten away from doing what we used to do really good before. that is our outreach effort. i think we need to do more of that, engaging the membership at their level. on things that are important to them, like childcare. prior to me being elected to the city council, i was very involved in ask me state and national lobbying efforts because of childcare. i worked the graveyard shift
because i could not afford to hire a babysitter. those were the things that many of my colleagues had to do. a lot of their children went to the local library. that was childcare for them. single moms, i'm grateful that i'm not a single mom. but still, two-income family raising three sons, was very hard. in a neighborhood like pomona, i had to be there for my kids to make sure that they are on the right path. mr. scully: you have three boys, names? ages? representative torres: robert is 28. christopher is 25. my baby matthew is 22. mr. scully: what do they think of their mom being in congress?
representative torres: they think it is an incredible challenge for them. we have a very competitive household. their biggest complaint is how are we going to be a road to compete with mom. what do i have to do to be better than congress? and i think they are now realizing that. it is not a title that makes me who i am. it's my involvement in my community. mr. scully: is there a budding politician in your family? representative torres: maybe. my oldest son, robert, ran for local office. unfortunatley, he did not win. he stayed very well connected and continues to get involved with community issues. mr. scully: how did you and your husband me? representative torres: we met at a baptism. some friends were having a baptism party, a barbecue, a backyard barbecue, and that's how we met.
i always said that i did not really like him, but i fell in love with him over the phone. he was my best friend. eventually we started dating and we have been married this year 29 years. mr. scully: what about your routine here in washington? how often do you get home? what is your schedule like? representative torres: i go home every week. i have to. otherwise, i would not see my family. my husband thinks that his mission in life is to keep me grounded. if he was to come to d.c., he thinks it would be harder for me to get california. the travel is hard. it's hard because unfortunately there are no direct flights from
ontario airport that is 10 minutes away from my home. to enjoy afternoons with my family, i have to fly out of lax, which means i have to leave at 5:30 a.m. for an 8:20 a.m. flight. but it is a direct flight. going home, it's a little bit harder. i either go through texas or phoenix to get to ontario airport. mr. scully: how do you maximize your time on the airplane? representative torres: i try to sleep, because when i get home i have to hear about everything that has happened while i been gone, not only at home, but in the community. then i try to catch up on reading. mr. scully: let me ask you about immigration, because you are an example of the immigration system in this country, the debate that is front and center. what recommendations would you give democrats and, more importantly, republicans as this debate continues?
representative torres: more so to my republican colleagues, i am a perfect example of immigration gone right. when i immigrated -- when my family immigrated to the united states, it was a lot easier. there was a process that did not take 30 years. you can petition for family members, and we did all that. it was a good process. it allowed me to fully participate in this country, not just as a taxpayer, but as a voter and community activist and eventually run for office. and i think exactly that is the american dream that we want every person that comes to this country to be able to reach. their full potential to participate in making this great country what it is. mr. scully: where in guatemala is your family from? have you been back there? three years ago, i went as a
state assembly member. i was invited by the government the second time around. it's very difficult for me to travel to guatemala. i had no idea that they had been following my political life. i'm very popular. these central american countries, this is an issue that we have been trying to address the governments are very corrupt. the people saw me this as an example of someone who works the graveyard shift and still serves their community. i think that is what they want to see out of their government. mr. scully: aren't you the
highest-ranking guatemalan in our government today? representative torres: not only do i have my district to represent, but we get calls from all over the u.s. it's quite in honor that the people from the 35th congressional district had given me. mr. scully: back in november you and other freshman representatives came to washington as representatives elected later into the orientation process. you told the "l.a. times" that was like drinking water from a fire hose. what is it like? representative torres: we had just won an election, so everybody was tired. i think we got one week off, but i was not really off because i was a state senator. i had to shut down my senate office within 25 days of the election. when i came here, there was so much information given to us. it is the way congress can say
we gave you that information now you're on your own. mr. scully: there is a picture behind you, and i think there is a story behind that photograph. so explain. representative torres: the office lottery. it was a lot of fun, actually. we got to choose numbers, and it was done by alphabetical order so torres, i was one of the last members to choose a number. but i think i pulled in the mid 30's, 37, and that was the face that i was making. i did not think i would have a great chance to get a nice office. mr. scully: you also learned about d.c. weather, did you not? representative torres: i was not prepared, still not prepared.
last week, another congresswoman who was my member of my congress before redistricting offered me a pair of boots. she said you need to have boots that are snow boots. those california boots don't work here. mr. scully: you have moved up from city hall to the state assembly to the state senate to congress. what is next? representative torres: this is where i am going to be for a while, i think. there is a lot of work to do here. there are a lot of relationships to mend. there is a constituency that feels that government is not working for them and they do not see themselves here. i think it's a great opportunity for me to say, look, i came from four floors underground, working the graveyard shift, the mom next door, the soccer mom next door, i should say.
here i am. if i can do it, you can do it too. but more importantly, we need your involvement. it's too easy to forget where you come from when you come to d.c. mr. scully: do you have heroes role models, people who have influenced you along the way? representative torres: i have had a lot of people that have helped in one way or another either through constructive criticism or holding my hand during that mayoral election where i won by 250 votes. but it was a very difficult time in my life. i had lost my home to a fire. here's a congresswoman city in a living room, of a temporary house, that we had managed to rent. every time a precinct reported she squeezed my hand. we won by a landslide that
election, but i have had people like that who have truly cared about me. and i of course have -- to think about. mr. scully: talk for a moment about the house fire? representative torres: i was in the middle of running for mayor, and it was -- i had taken a leave of absence from my job as a 911 dispatcher. i was helping my union on two initiativfes. i had just left my home. i was on the phone. we were planning a demonstration the next day for these houses for sex offenders that were being sent to my hometown. so my husband is driving and he puts it on speaker phone and
it's the kids, the house is on fire. i'm thinking that i live on a hillside. i'm thinking it is the hill that is on fire. you never think that this is something that can happen to you. we drove home, we were 10 minutes away. we had to run the last four blocks because there were so many emergency vehicles. it was devastating. i went from driving a mercedes to driving a kia, but we managed. we survived all of that. mr. scully: what was the cause? representative torres: the cause was electrical. we moved into a home that was built in the 1920's, and the electrical had not been upgraded, so here we are, a family with three computers, a tv in every room, and some of
the bedrooms had two tv's because you have to watch football, and not just on one channel, but two different channels. it was quiet a devastating experience. i lived at five different places in 14 months. homelessness, i think that's why i'm so passionate about homelessness. i think it is america's black eye. you never know, it could happen to you. it happened to me. had it not been for a credit card with a zero balance, i would have been living in my car. we had no place to go. but because of that credit card, i was able to check into a hotel and the hotel was my home for the first three weeks. eventually, i worked with my insurance company and we found a temporary house to rent. i can't tell you how frustrating and how difficult it is for a
family with young boys, a dog, and a cat to find a place to live, even though i was a councilmember, even though i was on the ballot to be the mayor. somehow, it's very difficult. people don't want to rent to folks who come with that baggage. i don't see it as baggage. my kids and my pets helped to drive my politics. eventually, we found a temporary place. but then we had to move again to a hotel, and they found a more stable tenant. so we lived between hotels and this temporary house for 14 months. mr. scully: thank you for your time and thank you for sharing your story with us. we appreciate it. representative torres: thank you.
>> you can watch another profile interview tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern with ryan zinke. he reflects on his former military service. representative zinke: i can laugh sometimes being a congress is sometimes more difficult than being a seal, in that as a seal you can watch things get done. you can engage. you have a terrific team around you. normally, you had the resources to win come and you can watch progress being made. on the hill, in the current polarization there is progress to be made. it is fixable. it is absolutely fixable. progress is not as rapid as what you would like.
you got to make sure you exercise some patience. and some of it is just political rhetoric. some people do not want the facts. they do not care about the facts. what they care about is an agenda. and i never looked at life through a red or blue lens. it is always been red, white and the with me. and as a former seal commander i never asked the political affiliation of the folks around me. what i cared about was how good they were. were they skilled, were they committed, did they have the right training, and today have the right gut and grit to do what was necessary? >> our entire interview with ryan zinke tonight at c-span -- on c-span at 9:00 p.m. eastern. the archbishop of miami and
immigration reform advocates spoke recently about immigration policy. failed attempts to overhaul the system, and what the 2016 presidential candidates think about the system. this is an hour and a half. jorge duany: thank you, dean and michael, for allowing us to participate in this event is co-sponsors of the panel today. i am pleased to introduce our guest speakers. we will have the fourth one in a few minutes and then after the interventions i will moderate the question and answer period. i think we are going to change the order of presentation. but we first introduced the first speaker, the award-winning bilingual journalist who also posts political talk shows and moderates the weekly public affairs issues.
i could say more, but i will be very brief and go to the next speaker. secondly, father thomas wenski who has been the bishop of orlando and had a red bird -- a long record working with immigrant groups between cuban and haitian in miami. a third speaker will be his dahlia walker-huntington, the principal of law offices of dahlia walker and counsel to hamilton, miller in miami. she practices in the area of immigration, family and criminal law. the fourth speaker who is just here so welcome will be gepsi metellus, who is a director of the haitian neighborhood in miami, strong advocate of the haitian community in south florida with women and refugees. without further ado.
ms. metellus: i would like to thank fiu for hosting this conversation. and that it's framed as a conversation because we have too few conversations in our country in general. we shout a lot but we don't talk about this a lot and it's one of those things that really deserves meaningful conversation i love it that this is occurring today after st. patrick's day where we celebrate, but it's so fascinating to the irish tradition. there were many who were sporting green yesterday in the recognition of st. patrick's day and obviously that is part of the immigrants on a per the fiber of our country. we had a struggle with immigration. it's not always an easy experience.
hispanics will tell you we are the ones that have replaced the irish and we are the ones experienced. i will leave that as well as others to address that issue. it seems odd we're talking about reform at this point in time a country that is what we consider the number one leader in the world of the country that is the largest come in october -- it keeps us stalled in this policy may. it is so basic and elemental and the heart of the fiber of our country. and yet we see that it is
stalled regardless of who is in power and where the majority lies in washington, d.c. when democrats were in power in 2008 from 2008 until 2010, 1 would have thought that they would have taken the happy opportunity to pass immigration reform at that point in time. and they chose not to. they passed other legislation including health care reform and the one promise that was made to the hispanic community was squandered, something that had been reminded of that democratic community and president obama in particular time and time again. the republicans complain about illegal immigration and do the same, nothing. they stop all discussion and all conversation as if doing nothing is an answer or a solution to
the problem. border security is an important part of the conversation, and republicans will tell you it is the first thing that needs to be addressed. any would agree, but go ahead and address it. and yet they do not. and when you do have border legislation, it is scuttled because there is this desire to have a majority republican voice in this thought or in approving this piece of legislation when it really is not necessary. and one would wish that leadership on both sides of the il would reach out to each other and say, what can we do to make this happen, to bring the country together, and who would disagree that we do not need to bring the country together on this important issue? what to do with the undocumented immigrants that are here, here is the news flash. the undocumented ultimately end
up becoming citizens. why question mark as they have american-born children who when they become of age, ultimately claim their parent, not the case for all, as dreamers will attest. but certainly it is a reality for very many. in very short period of time, 40% of the workforce will be hispanic. non-hispanic working age men and women, their growth in the job market is going to be almost 0%. minority communities are having more children than the nonwhite hispanics. from an economic perspective from a religious perspective i'm going to leave that to discuss, but out of humanity,
out of history, out of a sense of community and an understanding of our history immigration reform should be resolved. and in 2016, if this is not a resolved issue, it will further divide the country in ways that will be more than unfortunate. thank you. mr. wenski: i'm archbishop wenski, and i worked many years in the haitian community, 18 years, began in the late 1970's more through the 1980's and into the 1990's. and now the archbishop of miami. immigration has been a part of my life all of those years. last major immigration reform was a compass in 1986 under president reagan, and that
included an amnesty, and amnesty that certainly benefited this community to the good in many ways. by the end of the 1990 path, we realized that legislation did not address all the issues that needed to be addressed, and it was clear that we were facing a broken immigration system. so since that time, we have been trying to advocate for a fix to reform the immigration system. the united states catholic bishops in the year 2001 issued a pastoral letter that was also signed on to by the bishops of mexico entitled "strangers no longer" in which we set out our priorities on immigration reform and what shape it should take. we were lucky in that both the
staff of senator ted kennedy and senator mccain used that document to put forth an immigration reform proposal that was on the table in the early part of the 2000's. i remember i went up to washington, d.c., in september i think it was september 9 and 10 of 2001. i think on the ninth, the president vincent a foxe fox addressed a joint session of congress at which he also underlined the need for immigration reform. the next day i saw another bishop and he said we are going
to get it fixed. it is going to get fixed pretty soon. i got up on my plane, for back to miami, went to bed, got up on the next morning, and i was going to work on the radio nine/11 -- 911 happened -- 9/11 happened. america went into a bad mood, and we have yet to emerge from that dad mood, and it is than stymieing our efforts to initiate immigration were formed. so what we had that senator mccain bill, that should basically be the gold standard the kennedy-mccain bill came out in 2001. it was going to provide a very good, very reasonable and humane immigration form and make it because of the bad mood. resulting from the nine/11 attacks, and later 2005, 2006
he and senator hagel. it was not as good as the kennedy-mccain bill, but it was acceptable and that was not able to get through partly because by that time president bush had lost his political capital because he supported the kennedy-mccain bill and he martini is -- martinez-hagel bill that he lost the political capital to twist all of those arms to get the necessary votes in the house and the senate. at the same time, it was interesting note that the democrats who generally have been at least double the in favor of immigration reform decided to let president bush out alone on this issue. in fact, rahm emanuel, now the
mayor of chicago, was a big influential guy in the house at that time. he went around to democrats in the house and said do not you dare vote for immigration reform now. if you do, the party will not give you any money for your campaign. and why did he do that? basically, because he wanted to make sure that immigration reform would not pass while there was a republican in the white house. so they were going to wait until a democratic white house so they could do immigration reform and also use that to their political advantage. and as you already heard when the democrats had both the white house and a majority in both the senate and the house, they did not act on it. we still are advocating for immigration reform. we were happy for daca, which
was a relief or the dreamers. we were happy for it because it was not what we wanted. we wanted to dream actr. we cannot get it. so we applauded the administration resolution, not a solution, but a band-aid that provided relief for thousands hundreds of thousands of young people. we supported dapa, which is the latest administrative action of president obama to provide relief to parents of u.s. -- who had children that are u.s. citizens or pre residents. that was going to help perhaps 85 billion of the 11 million or so undocumented in the country
today. the president announced it, and in doing so he angered republicans, and of course they initiated some action in the house to defund it, to derail it, in one way or another before they had a chance to do that. some judge in texas basically ruled it unconstitutional, and it is on hold until it is appealed to a higher court, and hopefully that will be overturned. unfortunately, even if it is overturned, it is only a temporary fix the cause it does not provide legalization, it does not provide a path decision. -- a path to citizenship. it says only for x amount of months you can get that work permit and a driver's license
and be in the country without legal status. that is not a permanent solution. but we support it and we think that the president did have the authority to do it. and we think it is a good temporary stopgap measure. but what we do need and we cannot do it without congress, we do need a fix to a broken immigration system. and the catholic bishops have been saying for the past 10-plus years that immigration reform should have three lay. like a three-ligand stool. one leg is a path to citizenship for the 11 million or so who are here in the country already. these people are already part of our american society, even though they do not enjoy legal status. they have american citizens who
are their children, they might have spouses who are american citizens, their neighbors. they are already integrated into the fabric of our society. and even the republicans admit we are not going to be able to deport 11 million people. . we are not going to deport them. so we should give them a path to legalization. and that path to legalization really is not only in their interests, it is in our own-several interest -- our own self-interest, because by leaving 11 million people outside the legal status, we are basically creating in our nation and you sanctioned underclass that is exploitable because they do not have legal protection. last time we did this as a nation we called it jim crow, and we have not been able to
overcome the effects of jim crow even to date. so why would we want to do it again for 11 million people? that is the first leg. given the 11 million people -- giving the 11 million people in this country and path to citizenship. the other way would be family reunification. one of the reasons why we have this trouble at the border of people being smuggled in, like the children that came in or are still coming in over the south texas border, is many of these people are looking for reunification with their families who are already here. when in the 1990's, our government started to increase security on the border by
militarizing the border, a lot of people that used to go back and forth from mexico and go work tech apples in the seattle area, they found it harder to get back and forth a must so they stayed in the united states. they wanted to have their wives with them and their children with them. and that created a whole new business of coyotes struggling -- smuggling women and children across the border. we had more than one case of women and children dying in the backs of trucks, suffocated, because they were being product also border, it in a desperate -- in a desperate attempt to unite with family members. right now if you are a mexican and are a legal u.s. residents or citizens and you have a wife or child in mexico, you have to wait 10 years because -- before that person can get a visa to get into the country.
the same is true if you are in the philippines or other countries. when people say, why don't you stay in line, in many cases there is no line or the line has no end. so family unification pleases have to be rationalized and the backlogs eliminated so that there is not an incentive for illegal migration for people that are just wanting to reunite their families. that is the second leg. the third leg is a worker program. we have to assure our american businesses a supply of legal -- a legal workforce. i think most people working in service industry, working in the agricultural industry, would prefer to have a legal workforce. and right now you have agribusiness they are very
nervous, they tend to vote republican, but they are in favor of immigration reform because they have a very narrow profit margin, and their ability to harvest crops and get chickens to market and all that can he -- can be blown out of the water by some crazy enforcement measures taken by immigration authorities etc. so they want immigration reform. and right now we have a system in which if you survive a dangerous gauntlet of going across the border, you will find a job someplace. and immigrants have gone into every one of the 50 states. a done it without any federal program directing them. but they go to where there are jobs. if you look around our communities in the united
states, the immigrants are not sleeping under bridges. they are not the ones that are sleeping under bridges. they go to where the jobs are and they find jobs. so you find central americans and mexicans working in onions in new york state, no clean towels new hampshire, working in alaska, everywhere. so why don't we rationalize this and allow these people to work legally question mark that is immigration reform. those three legs. take care of the illegals, that are here, the undocumented that are here, by providing them with a path to citizenship, work out the kinks in the family unification program, and assure a legal workforce for our industries that require workers especially those on the low end of the economic scale. now, back to 1996 -- 1986, when
we did immigration reform, it was a tough lift back then, too. reagan got it done. and it was interesting because what we are seeing today in the united states, on this anti-immigrant feeling expressed in different areas, we lived it here in south florida in the early 1980 prosperity it was mostly focused on the haitian's. in fact, we had an indefinite detention policy for everybody. i got to shut up soon because i am exceeding my time. let me say this, is that what was a local problem here has now become pretty much a national issue. however, let's look at south florida. we survived it. our experience of immigration in the 1970's and 1980's have shown
we have nothing to fear from immigration. immigrants are not problems. their opportunities because they bring gifts and possibilities and dreams and determination etc. we can see how -- we should be able to say that our south florida experience should show to the country that there is no reason to fear immigration, that it is a positive for american society. a few weeks ago i saw that are cuban-american congresspeople were advocating that now is the time to do away with it. i thought that was a full list thing for them to say, because that is what the castro government has been saying for
over 20 years. so here we go. politics makes strange bedfellows, doesn't it, that we have a hard lining cuban-americans basically advocating for the position of the cuban government that has been advocating for for two decades, to do away with the cuban adjustment act. i think the cuban adjustment act or be a template how we should treat immigrants coming because the cubans have been the most successful immigrant group in american history. one of the reasons for their success, surely they have their own towns genius, etc., but one of the reasons cubans succeeded was because there was a cuban adjustment act which meant that one year after they were from they had their green card, and five years later's, six years later, they were citizens. so i remember in the 1980's there was always a lot of comparisons made between the treatment that cubans were getting and the treatment that
haitians were getting. and cubans were treated better than the haitians. but the haitians were not treated much worse than the mexicans hondurans, but the issue should be that we should treat the cubans as -- the issue should not be that we should treat the cubans as bad as we treat everybody else. the argument should be that we treat everybody else as good as we have a treaty and cubans because the cuban adjustment act works, and if it worked for cubans, it can work for everybody else, with that i will be silent. ms. walker-huntington: my answer is that as attorneys we have to be both. we problem solve, we negotiate and we also advocate. most attorneys who practice immigration law in the united states are members of a national organization called the american immigration lawyers association. it is an advocacy group that has over 13,000 members. the mission of the group
established in 1946 is to promote justice and to advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy. certainly, any immigration law context, lawyers are the people with the most intimate knowledge of the laws themselves. process, and we are the ones who see the day-to-day impact of immigration laws on individuals and families, both inside and outside the united states. we see when parents are separated from sons and daughters for seven to 10 years, and in the mexican context, 21 years, if you are filing for a son or a daughter who is over 21 years of age. and siblings who are separated for up to 13 years. the group has a national day of advocacy. this year it is an april 16 in washington. attorneys and representatives from all across the united states converge on d.c. to lobby
congress for meaningful immigration laws, not just immigration reform. because while we do know about the numbers varying between 10 million and 50 million people who are undocumented, there are also laws on the books that separate families, and i will give you an example. if you are the parent of an american citizen and your son or daughter is over 21, you have remarried, and you now have a new family, if you remarried after that son or daughter was 18, that step child cannot file for their step parent. and also, if they file for their siblings, the sibling goes into a category that says they have to wait 13 years. so you have once again the separation of families. and as helen said earlier although america has a history of immigrants, we also have a bad history of limiting
immigration as group similar it turns against nextwave of immigrants. irish, germans, italians, the haitians, the mexicans, they were not always welcome to america, but now they are established, and they are being resisted. it is up to lawyers to partner with other groups such as churches and ngo's to make and help document the contribution that immigration's -- immigrants have made to this country. and while on the subject, it is not uncommon to hear people with the last name of rubio and cruz who are also anti-immigrant. as lawyers we have to show the american people how we benefit from the reunification which is supposed to be the hallmark of immigration, and in today's america how america can benefit
from keeping students who are educated in the united states in institutions because they the 12 to 15 million of undocumented in this country definitely need a path to the legislation. and it should not take 13 years as was proposed in the senate bill that passed in 2013. the people need to come out of the shadows, they need to obtain drivers license, he could savor for all of us on the street. they need to do pay their back taxes, pass a criminal background check and become permanent members of the society to which they contribute on a daily basis. any are already paying their taxes, that even if they are not, they are part of the economy that contributes to the way in which we are able to live in this country, whether we want to believe it or not. now, as lawyers, as an advocate
for your client, we have a duty as lawyers to be knowledgeable of existing laws and to find ways to use the laws that exist it is second in complexity only to the internal revenue code. and it is not uncommon to have different applications of the law and to receive different answers from different uscis agents. you call the number one day and you get one answer, call tomorrow, ask the same question, and you get a different answer. so the immigration lawyer has the responsibility to update themselves on what is happening on immigration law. in the criminal law context, they are entitled to counsel. and even deportation, which is the most severe penalties, the separation of families, is not considered a criminal matter.
so there is no right to have counsel appointed to you and immigration law. you have the right only if you can afford it. and we saw with all of the children who were coming in, many of whom were five or seven years old sitting in front of judges not speaking the language and having representation. ngo's and churches try to provide free and need counsel but there is limited availability and because of that, many immigrants including adults appear without counsel. as lawyers we also have an ethical duty to take on the cases within our competence area and knowing the immigration law and getting the correct advice is the difference between remaining in the united states and being forever separated from your family. we have a responsibility to be at the forefront of advocacy as far as i'm concerned because of
the knowledge that we possess where we are sometimes accused of not wanting nonlawyers to benefit from the business of immigration. and it's mind-boggling to me because even after practicing law for 17 years, my colleagues and i still call each other and bones cases off of each other -- bounce cases off of each other because the whole study and maintaining of immigration law is complex. and we are very overwhelmed and heavily immigrant in the community in south florida which is so unique to have so many different countries represented and some pockets of heavy different nations. we are overwhelmed with notarios and others who believe they know more about immigration law damn -- then practitioners that are submerging themselves into practice every day.
so i do join with my two panelists in advocating that we need immigration reform in the united states. not only did president bush expend his political capital by not pushing, but president obama also expends his political capital by not moving within the first 100 days as he promised. to pass immigration law. and as a practitioner that is out there and also an advocate every day, i don't see it happening in the next two years within this congress before the 2016 election. i hope to be proven wrong but i do not see it happening. what has happened in texas is that 26 states, including the state of florida, joined a lawsuit to stop the president's executive action that he signed in november of last year. and it's interesting that the judge who issued the injunction
against the enactment of the executive action didn't do it on the merits of the executive action but chose to do so on the procedure, saying that the president did not follow the procedure of putting it out there for a certain number of days. and it was a procedural or a technicality as a non-lawyer would say that has caused this executive action not to be implemented. which was going to have widespread results. not just for the 5 million people who are expected to benefit from the deferred action for parents, but also the whole revamping of immigration looking at it. and the president as the executive of the country has the authority to decide how his
agencies and this case the department of homeland security, is going to implement the law that are already on the books. and there is one right now and this is done every day that a person comes up for deportation and about deportation -- and that deportation deferred and they are allowed to apply for a work permit. so what the president did in that regard was nothing that wasn't being done on a daily basis but what he was saying is apply it across the board and invite people to come in and applied, -- come in and applied come out of the shadows, get this monkey off your back and continue to contribute united states. gepsie m. metellus: it's wonderful to actually benefit from all you've heard from all these speakers. let me just add a few more elements. let me remind us of what the imperative is for us today in terms of seeking to achieve
immigration reform. first and foremost, the heritage, the legacy, the value s of the country demonstrate this is something we increase in -- immigration is something that we embrace in spite of the times when we have been not to o welcoming but still it remains in our national interest and remains in our economic interest and remains in terms of world prestige and moral authority that we live up to our values. i think no american disagrees with this, even those who appear to be today's anti-immigrant and anti-immigration voices. second, we all agree that immigration reform requires that we secure the border. requires that the 11 million
plus people in the country who seek to be legalized and seek to have their status adjusted and must learn to speak in addition to generally they do. to speak in addition to this they generally do, they must pay their taxes and they do this today through even not just through social security. they clearly want to be upstanding citizens of this country. they want to be participatory . they want to contribute to the growth of the economy. the children are in school and want to take every opportunity that this country offers. and everyone seeks to live the american dream. i don't think that there is in the immigration reform advocacy corner, there is anyone who disagrees with this idea of reform advocacy. you heard the archbishop reference the post 9/11 mood of this country and i think there
are other elements that explains the hyper partisanship, the rancor, the nastiness, that gridlock that exists today makes this difficult. the gridlock and all of the things that are dysfunctional without congress today and you know i'm going to tell you the truth. there's a black man in the white house, i think that is an element, right? i think that the anti-immigration forces in this country have taken over and have drowned out the voices of the silent majority which is many of us, those of us who do nothing or say nothing because we do not think that voices matter. we cannot figure out a way to amplify the voices so that collectively we make an impact. and so when you have this in the country, a very minute, i will not even call it minority, a very minute group of people that are holding the rest of us
hostage and finding voices through elements elected to congress that congress -- elected to congress and participating in gridlock and are holding others hostage. and resulting in us being the laughingstock of the world. where is our moral authority to preach to others, where is our authority for other people and other areas of the world that to do x, y, and z? to live up to the democratic values and ideals and human rights values and ideals and to live up to all of the standards that we are known to be identified with? and here we are trampling on the very same standards where i think a large segment of our immigrants are concerned. you heard the archbishops mention the fact that haitian immigrants in this country, in this community in particular were treated very, very badly. i also think that there was probably some unwritten policy that suggested that haitian immigrants should be locked up. haitian immigrants were to be
detained indefinitely. haitian immigrants were to be discouraged from coming into this country by any means necessary, whether that meant to send them back, and even when morally, we could not withstand the public and the worldwide criticism, we came up with, what was it, what for right foot, -- wet foot dry foot, some sort of policy to sort of attempt to say, yes, we understand that it doesn't look good, and that would be strange that we would treat one group of immigrants in a certain way and get treated them under the same circumstances. i will tell you this story very quickly. a boat on the high seas has haitians on it happened to meet cuban rafters whose transport mechanism was disintegrating they pick them up, they all arrive here together.
just what happens? patients -- and yes what happens -- guess what happens? the haitians are sent back. the cubans are welcomed. we saw and lived through a number of similar experiences. and so i leave it to you to make the final judgment. but i want to take this opportunity to remind you of that you know what you have heard it, you know of every advocate and whether or not we are republican or democrat and at the end of the day we all want some of these same things i've mentioned. we need all of you to not be, to not grow the sector of bystanders who are the silent majority who say nothing when you're voices are so powerful. we need you to urge your elected representatives to act on this. yes, some of us think that 2017 is possible. some say it is not, but our economy cannot sustain this,
we will not be able to deport all of these people. we know the business sectors that are important to our economy mute of his labor force need of its workforce -- economy muted his labor force need this workforce, so what is it that we are waiting for? clearly there are some who favor providing visas to those individuals who are considered investors, who would invest in the economy, who are going to create jobs, who are going to help us in terms of our economic outlook. and i don't disagree with about totally but i do also think that we need to make room for family unification as the archbishop mentioned, because all of these individuals who are already in this country who are doing work that none of us would do today the work that none of us would do today, these individuals are here doing this, striving to deserve a place, a spot in this great country, striving to live
this american dream, and are having their dreams, their aspirations derailed by some individuals who seem to not understand what time it is. all right? let me just close with reminding all of us, something i love to say, but i'm also careful in the way i say it because i don't want anyone to misquote me. i like to think that the american immigration system is probably the only ponzi scheme that works, right? to the extent that, right, you come to this country as an immigrant, you apply for other relatives who come in and they applied for -- apply for successive numbers of relatives who come in, and they keep growing this economy, keep contributing can keep the country moving forward, provide our talent and you all that we can to make the country what is today. is that not a scheme that works? it's in our best interest to get it right, to get it done, and it
has to get done right away. i'm going to stop right here. jorge duany: thank you to all our guest speakers for wonderful presentation. please help me to recognize them. [applause] jorge duany: so now we have some time for questions and answers and i would just like to remind you to please be brief and to use the microphone over here. we might try to several questions together so we will have more time for responses and so on. so whoever wants to start with the first question, please. also identify yourself if you will. alberto: my name is alberto, i'm a journalist. i am not sure. we have the majority silent, i
am not sure, believe me. however, how we can move the heart of this nation to understand this problem? because this is a big problem, you know? a very big problem. and, obviously, if we should have the majority of the public opinion, the final is going to be different. but right now i think we don't have. how can we change this course? archbishop thomas wenski: i think that there is a majority of people who are in favor of an immigration reform, of a fix to our broken immigration system. what happens the is in the house of representatives, the congressmen do not have to respond to the majority opinion in the united states. they only respond to the majority of opinion within their districts. and so the districts have been gerrymandered in certain ways that, you know, most congressmen
are coming from pretty comfortable districts that tend to either vote democratic or vote either republican and therefore, you know, some of the restrictionists that are anti-immigration reform, in their districts the pro-immigration reform people are perhaps the minority while around the country the pro-immigration reform people are the majority. and that's one of the problems that is keeping it from happening in congress. however, i would like to be an optimist and the lawyer here says here that there will be no immigration reform before 2017. that's probably right but i would hope that, you know, maybe some enlightenment might reach congress, republicans in congress. it would not take them -- if
they think about it they would see it would be to their advantage really to get the immigration issue off the table before the primary season hits us after the summer. you know. because it certainly would help jeb bush if immigration wasn't going to be a hot button issue if it was resolved by some immigration reform coming from congress now rather than later. so, and, of course, then you could also say on the other side, well, the democrats, it might be to their advantage not to solve immigration now because they would use it as a wedge issue in the next election. and so what we have to appeal to is what both parties, better angels, that they don't look for the partisan advantage but look for the common good. and the common good would be
served by fixing this problem sooner rather than later. because the longer we wait to fix it, the longer we are seeing -- and i see it in parishes around the archdiocese and beyond, people suffering families being broken up, of dreams being a dashed. helen aguirre ferre: if i could, i would like to say that in the work that i did with univision radio, and i'm not with univision america at this point right now, but in the work that i did, it was political show and a talk show and people would call in from all over the country. and there were a lot of hispanics who would call and say i played by the rules and i came in the right way and i applied and i've been waiting five or six or seven years for my child to be able to come to the country, family reunification. and now i have, now i found out if i had brought them in
illegally, they would be able to have the benefits that the dreamers have today. so it is not an easy issue. it is very complicated. part of the struggle that many republicans in congress who are in favor of immigration reform try to find a platform so that there is no preferential treatment for those who are in the pipeline in order to come here is an issue. i think that there is an understanding as well that even though a republican congress can pass what they considered immigration reform, it might not meet the approval of the white house and it could be vetoed. and we live in a time today where politically, both sides are saying it's my way or the highway. and that is the unfortunate nature of the process today. archbishop thomas wenski: and, you know, to give credit where credit is due, last year around
me i remember i met with speaker boehner, i met with congressman dana, and one of our local congress been and diaz-balart was leading among the republicans in the house a charge to secure a vote on the senate bill that marco rubio got passed in the senate for immigration reform. it wasn't the greatest bill around because as you heard it , required a 13 year wait to get citizenship, but at least it would be, you would have legal status and ability to work, et cetera, et cetera. he was working on that, and what blew it out of the water was the crisis on the board with the unaccompanied minors. because that crisis was going on for a while but it hit the media in the summer, and that was the time that that was going to be voted on.
and had basically, you know, the votes that mario was trying to line up to get it through, it all fell apart. not only that crisis but also canter's loss in virginia. that loss and the crisis took the wind out of the sails of attempts of republicans in the house to push the immigration forward. but hopefully, you know, we always say let's keep on going. we continue to advocate. you know. >> taking another question. annie: hi, i'm annie gomez, a student here at fiu. the office assistant for the cuban research institute. i just wanted to know how, why is immigration reform so important specifically for non-immigrants? dahlia walker-huntington: immigration reform is important because you, right now there is an estimate of between 12-15 million people living undocumented in the united states.
after the 9/11 attacks, persons who took part in the attacks were here primarily on student visas, had driver's license, and this is just one issue, the ability of an alien to get a driver's license became impossible, increasingly difficult. and so what you have now are people driving on the streets of miami, fort lauderdale, all across this country who have to have jobs as the archbishop has said that they have to get to, and they have their children to have to take the school and have no choice but to get into a car and drive. they have no insurance and they're putting you and i at risk. that's number one. number two, these are people who have been here for 10, 20, 30 years in this country. they own property. they are working in all sorts of different fields. they are doctors.
they are nurses. they are bankers. they own businesses. they employ people but they don't have a green card. they don't have residency so they are contributing to the economy every day. there are also the people who are doing the job as gepsie said, that we don't want to do. my husband who is here is an executive housekeeper at a hotel. it is so difficult every time they place an ad for a housekeeper, a maid, to get someone who is an american citizen or a resident or born in america, met with an immediate immigrant past to come in and do the work. so there are industries out there who want to have employees to work. as the archbishop said, and it's always amazing to me, and i say to my office, someone will walk in who is an undocumented alien but they're working. they are working.
and there are people who are born here and they will come and tell me they can't find a job. so it's important to get these people to come out of the shadows, to pay the taxes, to undergo a background check and to remain here and be a part of the fabric of what makes this country great. the president's administrative action was not about deporting families. certainly we are not arguing for people with heavy criminal backgrounds to be able to remain in the country. and that's a whole separate issue, but the issue that the president put forward is that he wants to keep families here, to keep families together, to perpetuate this american dream. because unless you were a member of the seminole tribe, your ancestors came from somewhere else to be here. so now i am a new immigrant because i'm from the caribbean. i'm a new face to america. i may not be from eastern europe
or from northern europe but i am an american as well. and so we have to embrace the new americans who are here, who we live amongst down in south florida more than other parts of the country. archbishop thomas wenski: if you are a non-immigrant and you fall in love with an undocumented alien, and you get married, you might find out he's going to be deported. and that you can't really fix it because he falls under the 10 year ban so he will be deported and he won't be able to apply to come back to the united states for 10 years. that's one reason you might be concerned about it if you're not an immigrant but, you know, so why should i care about the undocumented? it could come to affect you in a very personal way, so it's good to fix it, you know, to do right by everybody because it will end
up doing right by you. dahlia walker-huntington: the cost of fruits and vegetables in our community would be unbearable. helen aguirre ferre: i would also like to say really quickly that this is about national security. when we talk about 9/11 and where we are today, we are talking about issues of great national concerns, and we we're -- we're acknowledging that we have approximately 11 million people who live in the shadows to say the least. and we say in the shadows because we don't have proper documentation or organize d documentation but we all know who they are. they go to school with our kids. sometimes they are neighbors and we are more familiar with who they are than not, but in other communities that may not be the case because here we are very open to immigration. south florida is an exception to the rule to a great degree, but from a perspective on national security why would you not want to have a better sense of who is here, why you are here, what are
you doing in a healthy sense? i don't want that big brother type of government. i don't want a government that also is going to be knocking on doors and asking for papers, et cetera. many people are here because of governments like that. that's not what this is about at all. but we do have to have a better sense and a better control of who is coming in and out of the country. and with the issue of family reunification, i would say the issue of family reunification would be diminished if there was an opportunity for people to have work permits to go to come in and out of the country. many do not want to bring their children here if they could avoid it because they think the united states is way too liberal, by certainly by standards of other countries. there isn't enough parental control, right? so the idea of bringing the kids here is kind of frightening. and if you look at the news sometimes it is a frightening. jorge duany: we have a few more
questions. why don't we take all three and then ask the panel to address them. go ahead please. student: good afternoon. i am a representation of the haitian student organization you on campus. as well as the catholic panthers. my question has to do with cuban adjustment act. as there been an attempt to implement an act similar to the cuban adjustment act by the haitian community? jorge duany: thank you. we will take them to the next question. julio: my name is julio. i am an undocumented student. i have come here. the reason i'm undocumented because when i, i came here when i was 16. i came here 30 days after my 16th birthday. i question is with the unaccompanied minors, and my question is a lot of immigrants are getting auto removals when they go to court, so what would it take for the government to realize there is a crisis happening right now? and what if we applied the cuban adjustment act?
to these minors? because in the last 10 years we've had the same amount of cubans, 40,000 cubans, arrive to miami every year. and when we talk about the minors we call it like an invasion. and that is no different than cubans coming to the united states. jorge duany: thank you. we will take a third question. laurie: good afternoon. my name is laurie. i have too many questions in my mind to really pin down one but there is one thing that i've always, always wondered. the vast majority, what exactly is it all these immigrants are running away from? i mean, all these countries, and in every country has their spark, their glory, but i can't help but notice that unfortunately, those in the higher power, like a perfect example would be cuba, castro, he has really done so so much to
just demolish a culture that was once way more presentable. but i just wonder sometimes why won't, maybe perhaps we can encourage the immigrants that are here with us, teach them a way that might able to go back to their countries and try to emigrate, establish a new idea for their people, for the government. because i know that in these countries, they are not really given a chance to learn about the beauty of democracy and such. and they are basically blindfolded throughout in their lifetime. they don't know that there is a better world they could live in and it could be the own world. they just take a stand up and say whoever is up there guiding us for the better, investing for our better outcome, please prove
yourself or else, i'm sorry, you are not being well enough. i mean, i live in one nation under god. god wants us all. he loves us all. he wants us to help each other. unfortunately, some of these people in higher power, they will put on their bright, sunny faces but, unfortunately, in the background, it's a pretty different story. they want to hypnotize the crowd into thinking, listen, you have enough, this is more than enough. and it isn't. and we have been given the chance to know that. we've learned so, so much. and perhaps maybe all i'm trying to say is, how may we help immigrants help spread the knowledge, the wealth of what we know here to those who have not
been given the chance or the opportunity to learn that it could be a better place for them if they were to take control? i mean, as a majority? jorge duany: thank you. thank you for the questions. we will let the panel respond. archbishop thomas wenski: we advocates for immigrant rights. we think there is a right to migrate in a sense if you're a human being, as a human being you have the right to live in conditions worthy of human life. so no one should be condemned to live in horrible human conditions. so that if you can't find those conditions in your homeland, and that presumes a right to look for them elsewhere. but that right to migrate is also balanced by the right not to migrate. you know, people should not be forced to leave their homelands. and many times, they are being forced to leave their homelands by political policies, by gang warfare, by extreme poverty.
so that is, that is, there are push and pull factors about immigration. but part of it also is a new reality that we are living in the world today which is called globalization. our world has shrunk because of technological innovation because of communications innovation. just think, you know, products made in china are sold in miami. so merchandise, products, cross borders every day. money crosses borders in an instant through electronic banking. the only, you know, and so do people cross borders. and what we are discussing is the dramatic ways in which many people cross borders.
people are crossing borders all the time, and for a fortunate number of them, they have the proper documents, et cetera, et cetera. but there is a number that are left out. refugees are another issue, you know, people forced to leave because of politics or because of economic reasons. so, you know, migration is a reality that is part of our globalized world and we're trying to respond to it in a human way. and one way to respond to it is by constructing laws that are just in human -- just and human , that serve the common good. and i think immigration reform serves the common good. as far as the cuban adjustment act, as i said, i think it should serve as a model or a template of how we should treat of the groups of immigrants
because its work so very well with the cubans. we don't see anything like that happening yet. although in the late '80s or early 90s there was something in the nicaraguan community which was a kind of cuban adjustment act for nicaraguans. and it helped that population. i remember as soon as obama took office, we pushed for tbs for haitian immigrant. we were rebuffed. they refused us a couple of times. but then the earthquake came and because of the earthquake then tps was granted to the haitians here. tps, temporary protected status, there were hondurans in this country since hurricane mitch on temporary protected status. that's almost 30 years now, isn't it?
20 plus years, 20 plus years. salvadorans around washington, d.c., a good number of them have tps because of earthquakes or issues in central america. right now the patients are being -- -- patients -- haitians are being, haitians that have family members that are approved can come to the united states and our approved within the next two years, they can come here and wait in the united states for their green card rather than stay in haiti because the situation in haiti is deteriorating. so that the humanitarian gesture. they don't have a green card ahead of anybody else but they can come to the united states, get a work permit and wait for their green card, some type of something is better than nothing but could've been a lot more generous.
so yeah, there is, so the cubans really have the gold standard as far as the adjustment act. and again, i think it's one way to look at it and say, you know, let's treat everybody else as well as we treated the cubans. and i think it would have a positive effect. but i don't think that's going to be much of a chance. i say let's work on immigration reform and get it done for everybody. dahlia walker-huntington: you have to remember the context of the creation of the cuban adjustment act as well. this is immediately after the bay of pigs, after jfk's disappointment, people feeling let down, the american administration not being fair -- not being there to provide support. a number of things sort of collided or converged to sort of
compel the congress to create come to pass this law. but in addition to the law there's so much support that is built into the cuban adjustment act in the form of help to such a people reconstruct and rebuild their lives. and i think that cubans probably by far, correct me if i'm wrong, the only immigrant group in the history of the united states who have benefited from this kind of rich support, not just in terms of the law and the ability to arrive and be eligible for the green card a year into your arrival, and five years later citizenship, but all the support, right, support to help you pick up yourself and figure out the way that this country works. i don't think that's extended to other groups unless of course they are designated as refugees. correct me if i am wrong. right? and then in terms of people , you know, leaving their countries to emigrate, no matter
where they are going, no matter where they're headed. i want to remind us that no one takes this kind of decision lightly. you're not going on a cruise when you jump into a raft and decide you're going to come to the united states. it's not a cruise. right? the ship is barely seaworthy, i call it a ship, maybe my vocabulary is escaping me for a minute, but the thing that they travel in is not seaworthy generally. we do not know the number of people who are ground-up d.c.. -- who have drowned at sea. we don't know the number of people who have become dinner for the sharks, and so i just want to remind us that no one makes this decision lightly. and next time you're on a cruise i invite you to just go up on deck top at night and look at, look at what you see out there. you see nothing but pitch blackness. all right? and so that is, that's the climate or that's the backdrop of the travel that someone knows when they come to the united states through a makeshift raft
or what ever it is they create to try to cross over. that's not a decision people make lightly. gepsie m. metellus: it's also important to take note that we sometimes only think of people here who are undocumented as people that came on boats. the majority of undocumented people have come on visas and overstated. but even having said that, that decision to get on a plane and to leave everything you know there has to be a push, as the archbishop said, a factor causing you to want to leave and a pull. the pull factor to come to america is everybody wants to live the american dream. or we want to get the education. we want to have the opportunity to be who ever we can be. it's the only country in the world where you can be born in a shelter and know that if you put
your mind to it and to work hard every day, you can become the president of this university, or you can become the head of the hospital. while there are other countries in the world with opportunities the opportunities that are here, let me qualify that, is more than it is anywhere else. so you find people from all over the world who want to come to america for that opportunity. we happen to live in south florida which is the gateway to latin america and the caribbean, but if you go to other states throughout the united states you are going to find other pockets of immigrants. you are going to find pockets of africans, pockets of indians pockets of russians, yugoslavians, and they are all going through the same type of immigration battles that we go through here in south florida, but we know the battle or the plight of the haitians and the cubans and the jamaicans because that is the majority of who we
have here. and so why don't people go back to their countries? that's kind of a political answer. you have hosted your political show. is what can be done from the government perspective to help other countries to build their economies so that less people will want to come here from an economic perspective? now the state department under hillary clinton's leadership saw the importance of what's called the diaspora. so i am a member of the jamaican diaspora because i am no longer living in my country. gepsie is a member of the haitian diaspora living here. the state department under mrs. clinton's leadership has seen the importance of the diaspora and so there has been programs that have been put in place for different members of the diaspora to come together to see how they can benefit their home countries. and as jamaicans we do that, i
know the haitian community also has a very vibrant diaspora. so that's one way that you can help to stop the pull factor. the push factor, rather. but the pull factor is always going to be there where people are always going to want to come to america because it's a shining beacon in the world of everything that you can achieve. and to the young man who missed the daca by 30 days, you certainly would've been, you are an example of somebody who would've benefited from the president's executive action because the executive action changed the date. it moved it up. [inaudible] you came within the timeframe but you came 30 days to old? yes. you are really an example of somebody who could use overall immigration reform in order to
change your status. courts would have aged that is your age. -- >> we have a kid that is your age. helen: to be an unaccompanied minor is a frightening experience. even though you are a young man your journey may not have been an easy one, we do not know. i can only imagine if you do not have family here how difficult it is to be able to face the trials and tribulations of coming to a different country that is foreign on multiple levels, it is frightening. part of the problem of trying to assist with unaccompanied minors particularly the many who are under the age of 12, is who propelled them to come here? are they really unaccompanied?
do they have parents that are here? it is a very complex system but there is something that i find interesting and we danced a little over the 2015 presidential election -- 2016 presidential election and something that i find gratifying is that gw possible -- two possible republican candidates from florida talk about understanding the opportunities and if they were in similar situations they would do the same thing and for the benefit of their families would come over here and break the law. the struggle is that there is the misunderstanding of breaking the law as if all laws are felonies and they are not. being here illegally is a civil offense and it is not a felony. but unfortunately there is a huge misunderstanding given that issue.
marco rubio heckled a lot and criticized a lot because she was on the forefront of immigration reform and then he pushed back because you did not like the bill at the end of it. he does not get the credit for bringing it forward and having it approved and he does not get credit then after for trying to walk it back. but i will tell you something about marco rubio and that is that before the president, six months before the president did different action, i called his office and i asked if i could take a number of undocumented students to him so that he could get a sense of who they were and speak to them and see if there was something we could do with immigration reform. and he accepted and there were maybe eight or nine students who
went. some gave full names and some only gave a first name because they were mistrustful. and senator rubio was only in office six months or so, maybe less, and he had a very frank conversation with the students about what could be done and what could not be done. he allowed them approximately a two hour meeting, allowed them to speak about what the experience was about. they asked, if we are legalized i think they spoke about legalization but it was met deportation, what does that imply? do we get social security numbers and a drivers license? what happened to parents was a big concern, will they be ckept whole? it was a fascinating process and
it started what i think is an important conversation. gabby was a part of that group and she was one of the leaders that really started the dream act from miami-dade college. that conversation, it was obvious that gabby, because of her age, was not going to be included in what was being proposed and aged out for daca as well. you are not alone is not to say that you cannot contribute -- which is not to say that you cannot contribute and i wanted you to know that. i find it ironic that we struggle with this conversation today and yet, tell me if this isn't strange? we are allowing people to pay for visas to come in here. we have even dropped the threshold. i am not saying that having a
half $1 million is easy but if you have $500,000 you can come into miasmmi and you can promise five jobs. you don't have to prove them. we have people here that deserve the right to not fear deportation. it is not a right to not fear deportation but deserve the benefit to be here and to not fear deportation. archbishop thomas wenski: we need immigration reform, comprehensive immigration reform. we should not give up on this congress. and i think that daca will, on the table. the judge put out a stay but that could be overruled. it could take time. when it gets overruled then it
will be in effect and this time right now for those that could be beneficiaries of it, it is time for them to gather up documentation. there is going to be a lot of paperwork, rent receipts, things the lawyers will be asking. and you should save up your money because the u.s. government will charge you $500 to partake in that. and a lawyer might ask you for a few dollars more. [laughter] archbishop thomas wenski: for those who are potential beneficiaries of this mandate start preparing written documentation and money to participate in it in the eventuality of the stay being overturned. in the meantime, we all have to work for comprehensive immigration reform not only for the beneficiaries but for
everybody like our friend here. jorge duany: i think we have time for a couple more questions. anybody else? courts i am a professor in the english department and art -- >> i am a professor in the english department and i have a question. everything you are saying is important and pertinent for questions. media is important and law is important and communal activism is important. but i have not heard one element that i think might also be of significant importance and that is education. we are talking about putting a stay to the problem, but who talks about people here? you talk about the laws different procedures, a lot of technical things which are very
important, i do not deny the significance. but how about education? is there a role for education to play in advancing because you have so elegantly advocated -- the cause you have so elegantly advocated? helen aguirre ferre: educational institutions have been the primary proponents of the dream act. to show you how complicated it is, we did not get the state tuition waiver, our form of the dream act until last year. it was absolutely astounding, a state where the hispanic population is so significant. it has been there but for some reason or another educational institutions push for so many things at the end of the day
they end up pulling back on some things because they have, in legislatures, budget interests that they need to push more strongly than other issues. i would say that education has been at the forefront as has been hospitals. archbishop thomas wenski: and the human faces, i see them in pews every sunday and you see them in the desks every day. that is the human face. education, like the church, can put a human face on this issue as we are not talking about the -- because we are not talking about statistics, we are talking about human beings, men, women, and children, whose futures are affected by a broken system. somebody said, as i like to say immigration law is not criminal law, it is civil law, so it is
not a criminal offense, it is a civil offense. call undocumented aliens lawbreakers is a bit of a misnomer. in that reality, they are not breaking the law as much as the law is breaking them. that is why the law is unjust and has to be changed. dahlia walker-huntington: the panel that is being done, i want to say thank you for providing us the opportunity by hosting this panel. certainly, there is a certain amount of fear in the community. you talked about some of the students not giving their last name. there is this fear of deportation that is very real. from time to time, washington will send an e-mail. a reporter is doing a story and
they want to see a particular person who fits this demographic and you cannot find anybody because nobody wants to come forward to put a face on it so that becomes difficult. courts to years ago, the feds would come in and clear every -- helen aguirre ferre: two years ago, the feds would come in unclear everybody out. we did not have this fear 10 years ago. dahlia walker-huntington: the fear was always there. archbishop thomas wenski: it is not just a fair because in the past six years more people have been deported than in the past 19 years. dahlia walker-huntington: to address another issue of your comment, i think in the advocacy, dutch community --
advocacy community we need to step up the education through creating opportunities to share the success stories on the one hand. gepsie metellus: and on the other to remind american brothers and sisters and our country of history and heritage as a land of immigrants, a land whose riches we all enjoy and benefit from today. created and built upon continuously by immigrants. yes, we have a lot more work to do in terms of community education. helen aguirre ferre: you're absolutely right about that. it will be interesting to see if jeb bush runs for president, he married a mexican and he did peace corps. he met her in mexico city. it will be interesting to see how that plays.
i was fascinated to see how we presented at cpac, the conservative oppac in the republican party. 25 or 30 people walked out but the rest stayed and he got applause. and he had been pro-immigration reform. but to me says something that we have reached a tipping point and things are beginning to change in this country but that needs political well. -- political will. i will tell you something, a couple of weeks ago, what did john boehner do? he passed the homeland security bill. vote up or down and it passed. the world as we know it, continued. and i think that is a lesson that maybe others are going to notice, that the bread continues to be sliced.
dahlia walker-huntington: it is interesting that you talked about jeb bush because his name cannot you mentioned in conjunction with that cannot be mentioned in conjunction with his run for presidency without knowing how his immigration is going to fallout. i would hope he would step up to the plate and that is a problem that people have with politicians in general and marco rubio in particular. because of his wishy-washy, i introduced the bill that i am not going to back it and you are not coming up with an alternative and not your hands off as though your family came over on the mayflower. it is a problem. if politicians will stand up for what they believe in, people will have more respect for them. i certainly would respect to jeb bush if he stepped up to the
plate. i am not going to vote for him but i would certainly respect him for stepping up and taking on immigration. archbishop thomas wenski: they say that making laws is like making sausage. not a pretty process. but i think there has got to be a way to clear the logjam. i do not think the republican party is completely restrictionist. there are certainly some restrictionists in the party, strong anti-immigration. there are some on the democratic side as well. i think we have to deal with the good angels on everybody's side and remind people that politics is a noble vocation and it is about the common good. and one of the areas that touches on the common good of
everyone in this country today is our broken immigration system, and it needs to be fixed. jorge duany: thank you to a wonderful panel and thank you all for being here. [applause] jorge duany: and good afternoon. >> next, a discussion with mike lee of utah. then the conclusion of our interviews with new members of congress. then the legacy of laura bush. mike lee spoke with reporters today at a breakfast hosted by "the christian science monitor. go