Bipartisan House Press Conference at Introduction of BRIDGE Act (H.R. 496)
Washington, DC – At a Washington, DC press conference today, Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) announced the introduction of H.R. 496, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act. They were joined at introduction by three Republicans and three Democrats as original co-sponsors, Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Carlos L. Curbelo (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Judy Chu (D-CA), and all but Rep. Denham spoke at the press conference. The bill is a companion bill to the Senate’s BRIDGE Act, introduced on a bipartisan basis by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Thursday (see joint press release from Graham, Durbin, Coffman and Gutiérrez: http://bit.ly/2jofbSI).
The legislation would extend deportation protection and work permits to those who qualify for the DACA initiative (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) that started in 2012. The BRIDGE Act would sunset after three years, thus putting pressure on the Congress to act to protect DREAMers and other immigrants from deportation and to normalize their status in that time. (Summary of BRIDGE Act prepared by office of Sen. Durbin: http://bit.ly/2iouYyU pdf).
Excerpts from Rep. Gutiérrez’s opening statement at the press conference:
“The 750,000 people with DACA already, or the ‘DACA-mented,’ who are working and living above board, they shouldn’t be pushed back into an undocumented status. It does not serve this country to turn documented immigrants into undocumented immigrants.
“And let’s be clear, I want the 750,000 DACA DREAMers to be in a safe place so they can work legally and avoid deportation, but I see them as key freedom fighters, people who are leaders in our community and will lead the fight to make sure their moms and their dads – their cousins, siblings, classmates, and neighbors are protected too.
“The DREAMers are the start, but we have to remember that there are 11 million undocumented people here, living, working, raising families. Most of them have been here for more than a decade. Their lives are here. Their families are here. Almost all of them are working and paying taxes and living peacefully and constructively among us and we have to find a way to let them live here in the open, as part of our society, not floating outside in some separate, segregated limbo.”
Rep. Gutiérrez is beginning his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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Related: The Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC), released a letter signed by 94 CEOS and leaders in Illinois, Florida, and Colorado in support of the BRIDGE Act: http://illinoisbic.biz/IntheNews.aspx