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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Linda Sánchez, and Members of the CHC for a press conference on the ICE raids today. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
”Thank you very much Chairwoman Sánchez, and I want to thank particularly the Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who have been tireless in educating not only the Members, but also the Administration on the extraordinarily adverse consequences of the actions that have been taken over the last few weeks. Actions which were presumably designed to send a message to those in Central America, but that sent a terrifying message to those here in America. So Chairwoman Sánchez, Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I want to thank you for your leadership, for your untiring and effective efforts at communicating the consequences of this action and for urging the Administration to change their policy. I also want to thank [the CHC] for bringing us here today to draw attention to these raids and their human impact.
“First and foremost, we need to look at these raids through the lens of common humanity. ‘She lifts her lamp beside the golden door’—that has been our message for centuries and it needs to continue to be our message. A country of refuge and opportunity, of due process, of fairness, of justice, and of compassion and concern and caring. Important questions need to be addressed about whether those targeted for deportation received effective counsel.
"I’ve talked to Members of the Hispanic Caucus who have told me about examples of 10-year-olds who don’t speak English at all being brought into a proceeding about which they have no understanding, no concept, and therefore have no ability to respond intelligently to protect their rights. We need to respect our values, and those are not the actions that ought to be followed.
"We can’t simply turn away individuals and families fleeing violence. El Salvador is now the murder capital of the world. And the violence of which [Chairwoman] Linda Sánchez just spoke and my colleagues and [Congressman] Luis [Gutiérrez] and I have spoken of and so many of you have seen and transmitted to those of us who may not have seen it personally. Thank you for your leadership and your courage.
“At the same time, there are also serious questions about how these raids are conducted, and whether they are following, as I said, due process. We’ve heard of raids in which not one individual was targeted, but entire families. The President said we were going to focus on felons, not families. Everybody understands focusing on felons. But focusing on families is not reflective of our values. They also highlight the shortcomings of this action that has been taken in the asylum law and procedures, as well as how responsive our nation is to refugees. This, as my colleagues have so effectively articulated, is an issue of refugees. What is a refugee? Someone fleeing terror and oppression, to come to a country that has always been the beacon in opposition to terror and oppression.
"I again want to thank the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the extraordinary leadership they have brought and the energizing of their colleagues that has occurred as a result of their efforts.”