US: Indian descent Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal becomes first immigrant to serve in immigration panel top post

US: Indian descent Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal becomes first immigrant to serve in immigration panel top post

Jayapal, 57, representing the 7th Congressional District of Washington State succeeds Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren to serve on the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement.

PTIUpdated: Thursday, February 02, 2023, 08:10 AM IST
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Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal |

Washington: Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal has been named Ranking Member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee's panel on Immigration, making her the first immigrant to serve in a leadership role for the subcommittee.

Jayapal, 57, representing the 7th Congressional District of Washington State succeeds Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren to serve on the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement, a media release said.

"As the first South Asian woman elected to the US House of Representatives and one of only two dozen naturalised citizens in Congress, I am honoured and humbled to serve as the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement," said Jayapal.

"I came to this country when I was 16, alone, and with nothing in my pockets. After 17 years on an alphabet soup of visas to become a US citizen, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to live the American Dream, a dream that is out of reach for too many immigrants today," she said.

"It is extremely meaningful to me that I will now be in this position to better move the needle and recenter our broken immigration system around dignity, humanity, and justice. As I step into this role, I would also like to thank Representative Lofgren for her years of dedicated leadership on the Subcommittee, and look forward to continuing to work with her," Jayapal said.

As the House Judiciary Committee gets to work, it is, unfortunately, becoming clear that the Republican leadership of the committee has no intention of engaging in good faith solutions to reform our immigration laws, said the Indian American lawmaker from Washington State.

"In the minority, Democrats will have to be an opposition party that stands up to the most extreme ideas of the GOP and protects our values. However, in this role, I also see promise for bipartisan work with a number of more moderate Republicans who themselves understand the need to restore our country as a beacon of hope," she said.

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement will be chaired by Tom McClintock (CA-05) and has jurisdiction over immigration law and policy, naturalization, border security, refugee admissions, non-border immigration enforcement, and other various issues.

"The fight to reform our immigration laws has been a core tenet of Jayapal's work in Congress. She has introduced multiple landmark bills and resolutions including her Roadmap to Freedom Resolution, Access to Counsel Act, Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, WISE Act, Protection of Kids in Immigrant Detention Act, and HEAL Act among others to outline a framework for what a fair, humane immigration system could look like," she said.

Before coming to Congress, Jayapal was a longtime organizer and activist for immigrants' rights. Following the September 11th attacks, she started OneAmerica (formerly Hate Free Zone), the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington State that successfully sued the Bush Administration to prevent the deportation of more than 4,000 Somalis and worked with the Governor to establish a New Americans Council on immigrant integration at the state level.

For her work at OneAmerica, she was recognized as a Champion of Change by the Obama White House. She was the founding co-chair of the We Belong Together campaign to mobilise women in support of common-sense immigration reform to keep families together and empower women. She was also arrested during a civil obedience demonstration protesting the Trump Administration's zero humanity family separation policy.

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