While ultimately House Republicans were able to pass the Donald Trump Act — an enforcement-only measure that demonizes immigrant families and does nothing to finally fix our broken immigration system — House Democrats were mostly unified against the legislation.
Under Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s direction, with major assists from Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Jared Polis, and Immigration Subcommittee Committee members Zoe Lofgren and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, nearly all House Democrats — 174 in total — voted against the harmful, Steve King-sanctioned measure, which would severely undermine community policing strategies designed by local law enforcement to build trust with all residents they are charged with protecting.
Let this be a cautionary tale for Democrats in the Senate, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who has talked about working on her own legislation.
We already know Republicans aren’t looking for a policy solution. They don’t want to work in good faith on bipartisan immigration reform. They want the sound bite. They want the headline. And their sound bites and headlines demonize the immigrant community. Anyone who considers himself or herself a champion for that community cannot be a champion while trying to appease our staunchest opponents.
The 174 House Democrats who held the line for families should be applauded. Click here to find out how your House Member voted and please send him or her a thank you message or call if they did the right thing (and the opposite if they did not).
Unfortunately, six Democrats made the wrong choice and sided with the Steve King wing of the GOP, while eight Democrats sat out the vote entirely. The Democrats who voted against immigrants were: Reps. Ami Bera of California, Jim Cooper of Tennessee, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Bill Keating of Massachusetts, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Krysten Sinema of Arizona.
The Democrats and Republicans who didn’t vote were: Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Brendan Boyle (D-PA), Robert Brady (D-PA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), John Carter (R-TX), Curt Clawson (R-FL), John Conyers (D-MI), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Steve Israel (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Chris Stewart (R-UT).
We’ll also give a shout-out to the small number of Republicans who broke with their party. They were: Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Bob Dold of Illinois, Dan Donovan and Peter King of New York, and Dave Reichert of Washington. They also deserve thanks, although a simple vote for immigrants is not enough when you’re a member of the party that is actively demonizing them. They need to push for a wholesale change at the highest levels of the Republican Party if they want to become true heroes for the cause.
Shortly before yesterday’s vote, Leader Pelosi released a forceful statement calling the Trump Act “a wildly partisan, misguided bill that second-guesses the decisions of police chiefs around the country about how to best ensure public safety.”
As Leader Pelosi stated, the truth of the matter isn’t that this bill does nothing to solve a problem. Instead, it’s meant “to demonize immigrants and appease the angry, anti-immigrant, Donald Trump-Steve King wing of the Republican Party”:
Americans won’t be surprised that Republicans are wasting precious legislative time on another extreme bill designed to generate a talking point in the increasingly rabid Republican presidential primary. After all, Speaker Boehner has spent years making empty promises on immigration reform – only to bend over backwards for the Donald Trumps and Steve Kings of his party.
As Speaker Boehner and House Republicans rush the Donald Trump Act to the floor this week, they’re staking their claim to an important title in today’s Republican Party: The Donald’s Immigration Apprentice. But, the safety of our neighborhoods and local communities should not be a pawn for Speaker Boehner’s latest gambit to hide his failure to act on comprehensive immigration reform.
In a string of forceful speeches, House Democrats took to the floor in rebuke of the Trump Act.
In a floor speech, Rep. Lofgren called out House Republicans for advancing only harmful, anti-immigrant legislation while simultaneously failing to bring any humane, permanent solutions for America’s undocumented immigrants up for a vote:
Over the last year we have come to the Floor to vote on bills to deport the DREAM Act kids, to deport the parents of U.S. citizens, to deport vulnerable children fleeing persecution and sex trafficking. Today we are asked to vote on a bill that overrides the public safety mission of State and local law enforcement agencies to increase the deportations all around.
We had the votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform in the last Congress, and I hope we can get back to that point.
Rep. Polis also called out Republicans for failing to fix our broken immigration system and instead advancing piecemeal legislation that actually prevents local law enforcement from being able to do their jobs:
“Until this body chooses to fix our broken immigration system and restore the rule of law, this particular bill would only dissipate the rule of law. It tells local law enforcement you have to either pay fines that drain your ability to enforce our laws, or you lose grants that reduce your ability to enforce our laws. Either way, if this bill were somehow to become law — even though the President has indicated he would veto it — if this bill were to become law, either way, it would drain away the very local law enforcement resources whose purpose it is to keep Americans safe. Let us move forward to replace our broken immigration system with one that works. Not try to pass the buck. Mr. Speaker, the buck can’t be passed.”
And Rep. Gutierrez slammed the Trump Act as cynical exploitation of a tragedy, saying it’s time Republicans get serious about addressing a true solution like comprehensive immigration reform:
This Republican proposal is not a serious attempt at fixing this problem.
Instead of piecemeal measures aimed at maximizing deportations, the long overdue solution is for Congress to enact comprehensive reform that combines smart enforcement at the border and the interior, with a clear plan of reducing the size of the undocumented population in America.
If you get millions and millions of immigrants inside the law, then the ones who are criminals and cannot qualify to get inside the law will stick out like sore thumbs in our cities. It will allow state and local police to police their communities more effectively for criminals and threats – because they are passing over people who have proven they are not criminals and not threats.
But this is very specifically the approach that the House of Representatives, and specifically the Republican majority, refuses to touch with a ten foot poll because they see demagogues like Donald Trump firing up frustrated voters and want to take the easy way out.
While House Republicans have continued to bend to the will of anti-immigrant extremists like Steve King — and now, Donald Trump — Leader Pelosi and the House Democrats who voted against this bill must be thanked for embracing immigrant families as we continue to fight for a permanent fix to our broken immigration system.