Rep. Delia Ramirez on Immigration Policy, Congressional Conflict Over Bipartisan Border Deal


As record-breaking numbers of migrants arrive at the southern border and cities like Chicago are facing a humanitarian response, Congress remains in conflict over a bipartisan border deal.

Former President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for the Republican nomination, is pressuring Republicans to block the compromise, reportedly to keep immigration as a central issue during his run against President Joe Biden.

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Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago), herself the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, weighs in on the situation in Washington and efforts to address immigration. WTTW News spoke with Ramirez before an appearance on “Chicago Tonight.”

WTTW News: Immigration has likely always been important to you, but are you feeling an increased urgency about immigration reform right now?

Ramirez: I have felt the urgency to pass immigration reform since the moment my mother crossed the Rio Grande pregnant with me. This isn’t simply an election-year issue to our immigrant communities, it is a 365/24/7 issue. I’ve presented 17 ideas to my colleagues about how we could take concrete action to reform our immigration system rather than waste time and congressional resources on baseless impeachment.

President Biden released a statement on Friday saying the bipartisan deal senators have been working on would empower him to close down the border. Would you like to see the border closed? 

I fundamentally question the notion that we have an “open border” that we can “shut down.” The reality is that our border is not open. If it were, there wouldn’t be children and women drowning trying to cross the Rio Grande or in detention centers. If it were open, asylum seekers wouldn’t have to put their lives in danger and pay thousands of dollars to coyotes and gangs. 

This dangerous rhetoric dodges the root causes question of why immigration surges, and the role that U.S. foreign and economic policy has in destabilizing these migrants’ home countries. “Shutting down” the border will do nothing to address these root causes or comprehensively reform our immigration system.

Even if Congress were to reach a bipartisan deal on immigration, do you think it would improve the situation for migrants in Chicago?

We need to approach this issue starting from the assumption that we can pass policies that will not only benefit immigrants, but our entire country and economy. Again, I’ve shared 17 policies with my colleagues that we could take action on immediately to advance comprehensive immigration reform, including expanded parole and Temporary Protected Status (TPS), expediting work permits for both new arrivals and long-term undocumented residents, and passing the American DREAM and Promise Act that I’m proud to co-lead to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. 

What can Congress do to help alleviate the migrant crisis here in Chicago?

Having adequate federal funding is what has allowed Chicago to welcome tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. When our federal government allocates the proper staff and funds necessary to compassionately welcome our new neighbors, we are able to accomplish far more than one municipality or state can muster by ourselves.


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