Filemon Vela

Representing the 34 District of Texas

Immigration

Immigration has played a crucial role in the formation and development of our country. The United States has been a beacon of hope for people fleeing religious, economic, and political oppression, and immigrants have given back to the United States through their hard work and innovation.  Across our nation, immigrants continue to make lasting contributions to our economy, but our immigration system is broken. Today, approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States and have strong ties to this country remain in the shadows. Many have U.S. citizen children and jobs that are essential to our economy, but they are unable to adjust their legal status. That is why I have introduced and co-sponsored bills which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants without tying immigration reform to vague border security metrics.

I have also continued to push for reforms in immigration policies including:

Opposing punitive sanctuary city measures: At the state level, I expressed my strong opposition to the Texas Senate Bill 4 which preys on the most vulnerable members of our communities and drives a wedge between law enforcement agencies, colleges, and immigrant communities. I have serious concerns that turning local police departments into de facto immigration agencies will create distrust between communities of color and law enforcement agencies.  At the federal level, I also voted against an equally punitive measure, H.R. 3003, which would strip local jurisdictions from the very funds needed to protect local residents if they do not comply with constitutionally questionable immigration detainers. 

Protecting Dreamers: Minors who came to the United States through no fault of their own should be protected from deportation. I want to ensure that there is a commitment by Congress to keep this program in place. That is why I am a co-sponsor of the American Hope Act and the DREAM Act of 2017. Under these bills, beneficiaries and other DREAMers can apply for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status. After three years of conditional permanent resident status and a clean record, those granted CPR status can obtain full lawful permanent resident status and eventually, citizenship. 

Protecting Asylum Seekers: Under the Trump administration, asylum seekers fleeing violence are enduring difficult journeys to reach our borders. Under our laws, it is clear that asylum seekers at or between ports of entry must be allowed to present their claims. I joined my colleagues in a letter to Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen in December 2018 expressing my discontent and serious concern about the cruel policies that have made it increasingly difficult for asylum seekers to present their claims. Until our immigration system is functioning properly, I will continue to work with my colleagues to address this issue.