Our country was founded by immigrants who came seeking freedom. That desire for freedom and a society where merit, not birthright, determined an individual's life helped to shape the greatest experiment in self-determination known the world over as America.
The hard work and determination of immigrants, seeking an opportunity to live up to their full potential and to build better lives for their families, make America strong. The freedom immigrants have found here has unleashed their creativity and sparked the strongest economy in the world.
Immigrants from industrialist Andrew Carnegie to Google's Sergey Brin came to our shores, and in the process, created new innovative enterprises and unparalleled prosperity for the United States.
Today, people still look towards America and dream of a better life. Our colleges and universities attract some of the most gifted minds from around the globe. Talented entrepreneurs still see our country as a cradle for innovation and an area to pioneer new industries.
Zoe is the granddaughter of immigrants. She became an immigration lawyer and, before elected office, taught immigration law at the University of Santa Clara Law School. She knows that the country's immigration laws must be reformed if the United States is to succeed in the 21st Century.
In 2019, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was honored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) at its "Empowering Voices Awards" for her work on behalf of immigrants and refugees. The video produced by MPAC for that ceremony is below.
As Chair of the House Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee, Zoe tries to cut through the divisive political rhetoric to advance commonsense immigration policy solutions that are practical and will help America thrive.
Migrant Families at the Border
Zoe has visited multiple U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities at the southern border and has been horrified at what she saw. She believes that it’s unconscionable that children are dying at the border and that migrant families continue to suffer from inhumane conditions while in U.S. custody. Because it is the responsibility of Congress to intervene when the Executive Branch isn’t doing its job, she voted for emergency funding that would better provide those held by CBP with clean drinking water, healthy food, sanitary items, blankets, and medical services, among other forms of humanitarian aid.
Zoe also wants to address the root causes of the refugee crisis in Central America before it reaches our border. That is why she introduced the Northern Triangle and Border Stabilization Act, a comprehensive, 5-pronged strategy to combat the underlying violence and instability that compels thousands of refugees to flee Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It would create a regional plan in Central America to enable families and children to seek refuge in the United States and other nations, without having to make the dangerous journey to our southern border.
As Chair of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, Rep. Lofgren was instrumental in ensuring the votes necessary to pass the Dream Act in the House. The DREAM Act would let young people who were brought to the U.S. as children come forward, register, and regularize their legal status. This would contribute to our nation's well being. Many of these young people have no memory of the land where they were born. Many speak only English and cannot speak the language of the land of their birth. Many times these children learn of their status while seeking to better themselves by pursuing higher education or to serve our country in the armed forces. The bipartisan DREAM Act would give these young people the opportunity to live freely, continue their studies, and their contributions to the country they love and call home. These young people are American in every way but their paperwork.
Top-to-Bottom Immigration Reform
Today, our immigration system is failing our country. Its dysfunction shuts out the best and brightest minds rather than attracting innovators who could grow our economy and keep it competitive. It traps determined, hard-working individuals in a cycle that exploits them for their labor. It separates spouses and parents from children for years.
Zoe believes that we should be able to work to fix this broken system through top to bottom immigration reform. With reform, we can protect American workers while meeting the economic needs of our country leading to greater growth and opportunities for everyone.
Rather than breaking families apart, we can unite them. Rather than expelling brilliant, highly-skilled students and entrepreneurs to compete against us from overseas, we should attract the best and brightest minds who want to help America succeed. Rather than failing to meet the needs of important sectors of our economy such as agriculture, we can help these industries legally employ their workforce.
By securing our borders and ensuring our laws are enforced, we can also regularize the status of those who currently live in the shadows to promote family unification and shared values like hard work and playing by the rules.
High Skilled Immigration Reform
Zoe has introduced legislation to curb H-1B visa outsourcing abuse and to start the overhaul of a broken high-skilled immigration program. The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 would curtail abuse of the program which has allowed replacement of American workers by outsourcing companies with cheaper H-1B workers. In several recent incidences, high-profile U.S. employers including Disney, Southern California Edison, and most recently the University of California San Francisco, have made news in this manner. The legislation prioritizes market based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200% of a wage calculated by survey, eliminates the category of lowest pay, and raises the salary level at which H-1B dependent employer are exempt from nondisplacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.
To learn more about Zoe's work on immigration issues, please click on the news links below:
More on Immigration
Lawmakers on both sides of the congressional aisle agree that backlogs and lengthy processing times for immigration applications are a problem, though they diverged during a House subcommittee hearing on the cause.
For the past two and a half years, Congress has largely granted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a free pass on immigration backlogs and application delays, denials and Requests for Evidence. That began to change at a July 16, 2019, House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.
Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, chaired a hearing of the Subcommittee entitled “Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Facilities” featuring Diana Shaw, Assistant Inspector General for Special Reviews and Evaluations, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General.
Below are Rep. Lofgren’s prepared remarks:
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee (D-NY), and U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, released the following statement concerning the Trump Administration’s new regulation to end asylum protection for most refugees from Central America:
Amid a backlog that sees some applicants waiting decades for green cards, 140 Republican members of Congress joined 224 Democrats and passed a bill Wednesday to end the per-country cap on green cards.
The “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act,” introduced in February by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), would throw out the annual 7 percent cap on green cards for citizens of any one country. The change would be phased in over three years if the measure passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Donald Trump.
State and federal lawmakers are calling for new rules and investigations surrounding the use of facial-recognition scans of driver’s license databases by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies, fueling a debate over the technology some on Capitol Hill have said represents a “massive breach of privacy and trust.”
Washington, D.C.—Today, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ken Buck (R-CO) that would strengthen the American workforce by reducing the wait time for those impacted most by the decades-long backlog of immigrant visas (“green cards”). H.R.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
The stories of the crisis on the U.S. southern border just keep coming. Dangerous overcrowding, squalid conditions, adults and children held for days and weeks at a time - issues that Acting Inspector General Jennifer Costello describes as urgent and needing immediate attention and action.
In 2019, U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was honored by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) at its "Empowering Voices Awards" for her work on behalf of immigrants and refugees.
As we argue about the horrifying humanitarian disaster at the southern border, a fundamental question is hovering in the background: Do we want to make it harder for desperate people to legally secure refuge in the United States, or easier for them to legally do so?
The Democratic answer to this question is: Make it easier for desperate people to migrate, provided it is done in a legal and orderly fashion, in as many ways as good policy allows.