Rep. Gabbard Introduces Bill to Halt DeportationJune 8, 2017, 8:59 AM HST (Updated June 8, 2017, 9:05 AM)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor yesterday, Wednesday, June 7, urging Congress to pass a “private bill” she introduced this week For the Relief of Andres Magana Ortiz (H.R.2794).
A similar bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka to assist Chef Chai Chaowasaree in 2001.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, this legislation would adjust Ortiz’ legal status and make him eligible for legal, permanent residence in the U.S. where he lives in Kailua-Kona.
Ortiz, who came to Hawai‘i in 1996 to pick coffee. By 2010, he saved enough money to buy his own coffee farm, and today he owns 20 acres and also manages another 150 acres for his neighbors.
The father of three children, Ortiz is now under threat of deportation under a Final Order of Removal issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The introduction of this bill follows a letter sent this week by Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation to Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly requesting that the department reverses its decision to deport Ortiz.
“The purpose of this bill is to help Mr. Ortiz with his extremely challenging situation, put him on a path to citizenship, and prevent his family from being torn apart,” said Rep. Gabbard. “Without this legislation, Andres Ortiz faces deportation within days, after living in Hawai‘i for 28 years and working hard as a small business owner. His wife and children—U.S. citizens—have exhausted all of the options available to them before their father and husband is forced to leave the place he calls home in Hawai‘i. We need a pathway to citizenship for immigrants to ensure people who deserve to be here, can find a way to be a part of our great country. We need immigration reform that keeps families together.”
Rep. Gabbard also shared the plight of Graham Ellis, a 67-year-old British national who, according to a neighbor, was abruptly seized from his home in Waimea recently and is being held in Honolulu for deportation.
Ellis, who is being treated for leukemia, has been in the U.S. for 36 years. The father of five is a circus arts instructor and a contributing member of his community. His wife is an American citizen.
“Graham is a law abiding person and works with children,” a Waimea resident told Big Island Now. “Is this the person we pay our hard-earned taxes to deport? President Trump promised to get rid of the criminal immigrants. I guess he broke that promise, too.”
“Our immigration system is broken,” said Rep. Gabbard. “We need real immigration reform that keeps family together and integrates hard-working, tax-paying immigrants into our community.”
Immigration reform has been one of Rep. Gabbard’s top priorities throughout her time in Congress. She also co-sponsored two measures to protect families and children, including the DREAMer Information Protection Act (H.R. 532) which prohibits DHS’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) from being used for immigration enforcement proceedings and the BRIDGE Act (H.R.496) which codifies the DACA program.