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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Paycheck Fairness Act—Motion To Proceed—Continued April 7, 2014
Robert Menendez, D-NJ
"Mr. President, I come to the floor to speak to two issues, both in the Western Hemisphere, that I think are incredibly important. I come to the floor to speak about labor rights in Colombia and labor rights of workers around the world."
Peace Corps Dc Commemorative Work Act January 13, 2014
Raúl Grijalva, D-AZ
"Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Farr), another returned Peace Corps volunteer, who served his 2 years in Colombia and who has sponsored this legislation in previous Congresses."
Sharing Stories In Support Of Comprehensive Immigration Reform November 21, 2013
Joe Garcia, D-FL
"Story 1: I met my husband in Colombia. He was on vacation and he was American. We fell in love and we married in Colombia. When I got pregnant, we moved here to the United States because he wanted his son to grow up here. That was twenty years ago. We have three kids from our marriage. After my husband passed away I had to find a job. My English was minimal and I didn’t have any family around to help. I was cleaning houses in the beginning, and I worked for UPS for six years. I left UPS and tried to follow my dad’s career. He was a jeweler in Colombia, so I got a job with a local pawnshop in Jacksonville. I worked for them for four years, but I got in trouble for purchasing stolen merchandise and because of my knowledge—they said I should have known about it being stolen. The items were no more than a thousand dollars, but they split the items and charged me five times. I served four days of jail, four months of home arrest, and nine months of probation. After a year of my life being on hold and not being able to work and not knowing how to support my kids, I was obligated to plead guilty so I could keep going on with my life. I was very blessed and lucky to find a job where they got to know me and see what kind of person I am. I have been with them for one and a half years, and I have been promoted a couple of times. I flew to Columbia a year ago and when I came back, I was stopped by immigration in the airport and questioned about what happened. They told me that, because of the incident and leaving the county and coming back, they were going to start the procedure of deportation. They removed my green card and gave me a temporary green card for one year and I was to hear about what was going to happen. I’ve been in this country all my life. I worked in this county all my life. I have three American kids. I have a dead American husband. I think I’m American. I made the mistake of trusting someone and paid the consequences. I think we deserve another chance. Story 2: I was born in Brazil. I came at the age of 14. I am a DREAM Act student. When I first arrived in the U.S., I learned about the importance of freedom. I learned what it meant to be an American. For me, those American ideals are really important. When I decided I was going to marry the person I love and decided to share the rest of my life with, I also wanted to fight for our right to be fully recognized in this county. I am an undocumented immigrant, but my spouse is a U.S. citizen. The only difference between us and the rest of our peers is the fact that we are in a same sex relationship. The inclusion of the Uniting American Families Act will protect our family from deportation and also our general well-being. When we saw that Senator Rubio and others specifically spoke against our family we felt that not all families were included in immigration reform. It was extremely outrageous to us to see the Uniting American Families Act fail in the Judiciary Committee last week. We hope that Senator Rubio will speak on behalf of the entire state of Florida, people like me, and also the 67% of Florida voters who support the inclusion of same sex couples in immigration reform. Story 3: I’m an immigrant rights activist and I have been one for the past five years. I absolutely say yes to citizenship for the eleven million undocumented immigrants living in this country. I feel it’s imperative that the government finally takes care of this issue after so many years. For example in my case, I have been living here for twenty-three years, but have been undocumented from the age of two. Right now I want to legalize my status so I can become an architect, finally realize my dream of becoming a citizen, and do my best in giving back to this country—the only country that I really know. Story 4: I came here from the Bahamas a year and a half ago searching for a better life and to further my education and athletic career. I graduated senior high school at the age of sixteen, and I am now eighteen. Because of my immigration status I was unable to continue and further my education. I’ve had scholarships to the top schools but was unable to obtain them because of my immigration status, which put part of my life on hold. I am saying yes to citizenship so I can be a voice not only for myself, but also for the students that stand in my shoes. Story 5: I’m twenty-five years old and from West Palm Beach, Florida. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’m the second oldest of seven children. All me and my brothers and sisters are U.S. citizens. We were all born here in the United States. My dad is Guatemalan—he is an immigrant. And my mom is Salvadoran—she is also an immigrant. They immigrated to the United States about twenty-five years ago. About seven years ago my mom and my dad were both deported at the same time, on the same day. I was a senior in high school. I remember the day clearly. I said goodbye to both my mom and my dad like a normal day. I knew they were going to immigration court but I never thought that I would never see them again. That was the last day I saw them. My dad owned his own company in which he paid taxes. We had everything that we wanted growing up because my dad worked hard and was able to own his own business. When my mom and dad were deported we lost the house that he bought. With the house he lost the business, and with the business we pretty much lost everything. It was up to me and my older sister to pretty much provide everything for my younger brothers and sisters. From that point on, I was no longer a normal high school student. I became a father of six, pretty much. My life changed completely. I had high hopes of one day playing collegiate soccer and hopefully maybe even one day playing professional soccer, but those dreams were shattered when my parents were deported. There was a moment when some of my brothers and sisters were actually homeless due to the fact that we lost the company, we lost my parents, and we lost the house. So we did live on the streets. We lived at hotels sometimes. It completely destroyed my family. Two years ago my mom was actually killed due to the violence that people flee the country for. The first time I saw my mom since the day that she was deported from this country in five years was in her coffin for her funeral. That was the first time I ever saw my mom. I never got the chance to hug my mom or kiss my mom or say “hi” to my mom ever again. She was never a criminal. She never even got a speeding ticket. Now I live here with my brothers and sisters, and we get by however we can. Obviously things are rough. Things are hard, but we’re getting through it. It saddens me every day to know that the fact that my parents were deported broke a happy family, a truly happy family that’s no longer together and will no longer ever be happy. If I had one goal, one mission in my life, it’s to prevent other children, other kids, other families from going through what I went through. Story 6: I live in Auburndale, Florida. I was undocumented. I want to say yes to citizenship because it’s a very important thing for immigration reform to happen. We’ve been promised immigration reform for years since Obama’s first term in office and he did not go through with that promise, though he did pass the action for childhood arrivals a couple months before his reelection. I was undocumented for many years until my wife is able to fix my status but my legalization does not mean that I can stop fighting for other undocumented people. I have family and friends who are still in the shadows, who are willing to come out, and who I want to come out to better themselves. Story 7: I’m saying yes to Congress supporting a path to citizenship. Many of us have stories. My story is this: my mom brought me here when I was six months old and it’s not her fault, it’s nobody’s fault. By the age of 13 I started helping them in the fields and I learned and went to school and everything. After school I would go straight to the fields to help out my mom because she needed help. I want to see a path to citizenship because I want to see everybody have opportunities in life. Story 8: My family actually immigrated 200 years ago. My great great grandfather was a stowaway from Germany and a German Jew. I really love it here in Florida. I really see how the immigrant community has enriched our community. I worry that increasingly we are being hostile to immigrants because they look a little different from the immigrants that have come here from the past instead of realizing how much they enrich the place. I think we need to continue to be a country that welcomes people just like it has with my great great grandfather. Story 9: I’m from Argentina, and I’ve been here for 30 years. I came to this country looking for a better future. I have two American children and the greatest fear I have is being separated from them. I have been threatened with separation from my children and all that I ask the congressmen and senators is to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship in order to give a better future for my children and to fulfill my dreams in this country. Story 10: I think it’s important what we’re doing today because the people are of value, they are an asset to our community and we need them. None of us would be here if it wasn’t for the immigrants. We all come from that. It’s important that they’re allowed to be here so they can add to our economy. And they’re not taking jobs. They’re doing the jobs that no one wants to do. I’m an American, born and raised, and I’m in total support of it. I think the government needs to look at our immigration system and make it user-friendly to become a citizen because right now it’s not user-friendly. It’s too expensive and too much paperwork and too much red tape. Let’s get down to the brass tacks and do it right. And do it in a quick manner. We can do it and the government knows how to do it. Let’s just do it. Story 11: I’m here because I have a lot of friends that I go to school with who can’t go to school because of tuition hikes in our state. I’m in this club Students Working for Equal Rights, and our president right now is in Georgia because her boyfriend got arrest for driving without a license. Of course, if you’re not documented you can’t get a license, and if you’re undocumented and get arrested, you’ll constantly live in fear of being deported. I’ve just seen this problem escalate, and I’m here to make sure I help that in any way that I can. I want to see immigration get reformed because there are a lot of people that play by the rules and work really hard. They want to raise their kids or do anything any other decent person wants to do, but they’re denied the basic opportunities most Americans take for granted. Story 12: I say yes to a path to citizenship because it would mean brightness where darkness has been for many people for a long time. Undocumented immigrants face many injustices and abuses. They fear getting stopped by a police officer and standing up for themselves. I’m here because I’m not directly affected, but my friends and family are and I want to stand up for my people. I want to stand up with all the organizations that are fighting for justice."
Recent Developments In Colombia October 28, 2013
Patrick Leahy, D-VT
"On September 9, Colombia’s Human Rights Day, both were awarded for their human rights work in a presentation organized by Di logo Inter-Agencial en Colombia, a consortium of international nongovernmental organizations working for human rights in Colombia. This is the second year of the awards, and they were presented during a time of increasing attacks against human rights defenders in that country. The awards are significant not only because they recognize the recipients’ contributions, but also because they help to reduce the social stigma that surrounds human rights work in Colombia and many other countries."
Making Continuing Appropriations For Fiscal Year 2014—Motion To Proceed—Continued September 24, 2013
Marco Rubio, R-FL
"We have a free-trade agreement with Colombia. There is prosperity in Colombia. Compare that with next-door Venezuela, an energy-rich country, a country that is rich with oil, a country that has natural resources and advantages that Colombia doesn’t have, Venezuela. They can’t even produce toilet paper because Big Government failed."

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