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Congressman Swalwell on Immigration: Strengthening Communities and Our Economy

June 27, 2018
DUBLIN, CA–Congressman Eric Swalwell (California 15th District), a long time City of Dublin resident and Dublin High School Class of ’99 alum, spoke with us yesterday about the immigration debate. Immigration is a hot topic on the desks of many politicians and Congressman Swalwell has been vocal in his views, via social media and interviews, regarding the current debate.

OneDublin.org: What role do immigrants play in your home, the 15th Congressional District?

Congressman Eric Swalwell: “Our strength as a community and an economy in the Bay Area is built on diversity. We are inclusive and welcoming to people from all corners of our globe, and together we thrive. If you have any policy, be it a travel ban that discriminates based on religion, or to cruelly separate mothers and their babies at our southern border, it extinguishes the importance of diversity. It’s not only that we value diversity as part of our culture, but also that diversity contributes to economic growth. You can look at the companies in the Fortune 500 that were founded by dreamers or immigrants to see it’s not just an anecdote but backed by data.” (reference)

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Congressman Swalwell (far right) with constituents in his Castro Valley Office

OneDublin.org: Looking back at your experience before your role as a Congressman, as an Alameda County prosecutor, what are your thoughts on the concerns, perceived and/or real, of illegal immigrants?

Congressman Swalwell: “As a prosecutor I saw every day a broken immigration system. A case comes to mind involving the robbery of a taco truck being operated by an undocumented immigrant. The taco truck was targeted because the owner was undocumented and the perpetrator likely assumed the crime would go unreported and that the truck would contain cash because it’s difficult for an undocumented immigrant to use the banking system.

“I remember the taco truck victim being deported just a few weeks before the case was set to go to trial. The victim was not deported for committing a crime, was someone who owned a business and was trying to grow that business, and just wants to better himself. I’d also had cases involving violent crimes who weren’t being removed.

“We have not found a way to make this right. I believe an overwhelming majority of people who come to our country do so because they see a better opportunity for themselves and their families, and are not criminals. If we can distinguish between the Dreamers and the bad apples I believe we can get this right.

“But right now the President has divided us by projecting upon the whole immigrant community the very small number who commit crimes, and as a result have people believe that anyone who crosses the border is a gang member. That approach is destructive and has set back the much-needed collaboration on this issue.”

OneDublin.org: What is the impact of immigration policy on our schools, our teachers and our classrooms?

Congressman Swalwell: “I’ve talked to a lot of our teachers and educators and they tell me about the fear our students are experiencing, that any day they or their families could be removed. I’ve spoken to Dreamers in our community, who came here through no fault of their own, who only speak English, who have only pledged allegiance to the United States flag, who fear being sent to a country they don’t know and where they don’t speak the language.

“We should be able to get this right. There is broad consensus among the American people to have a path to citizenship for the undocumented, to find a space for our Dreamers and to have security at our borders. Unfortunately we are seeing a President who instead of acting with precision on this issue is just taking a wrecking ball to this issue which leaves us no ability to collaborate.”

OneDublin.org: Regardless of what happens nationally, what can you do to help folks in the 15th Congressional District?

Congressman Swalwell: “This weekend I’m attending a number of Keep Families Together rallies, where we will be rallying in solidarity with families who have been separated, and to collect supplies that can be sent to these families. Mark DeSaulnier just led a letter calling on the administration to be more specific on the use of facilities, in particular the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, as places to house families, which I also oppose. (reference)

“I also just signed on to legislation that would require members of Congress to have access to these facilities because we don’t trust the administration, we don’t believe they are being straight with us, and unless we are able to visit the facilities the American people won’t know what’s being done in our name.

“The reason the President changed his policy on separating families was because the American people were outraged and moved to do something about the policy, it was not because the President believed it was the right thing to do. The lesson we have to take away is that we have to stay loud, we have to be productive with our activism by going to the town square and town hall, and ultimately march on ballot boxes. That’s how the greatest changes are made.”

OneDublin.org: Where would you like to see us in January 2019 and beyond?

Congressman Swalwell: “Ideally in January 2019 Democrats will have won Congress and we’ll be able to put on the President’s desk all the bills that the Republicans have not been willing to deal with. The President said ‘you pass immigration reform and I’ll take the heat and I’ll sign it’. But since Congress can’t pass a bill the President gets to make imaginary decisions and blame the Democrats. We should put on his desk what he’s already said he’s willing to sign and put him on the spot to see if he’s serious. If the President is just gaming us and pitting us against each other that paves the way for a Democrat President in 2020.

“I believe people just want these problems solved, and I believe they are solvable, but it will take collaboration.”

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