A Florida congressman is backing U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar’s, D-Tex., “American Families United Act” which will “preserve and promote family unity by amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to help millions of U.S. citizens reunite with their loved ones.”
U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga., are co-sponsoring the bill.
“The American Families United Act would protect the rights and interests of U.S. citizens in our immigration system, and provide the Attorney General and the Department of Homeland Security Secretary discretion to allow certain individuals to be reunited in the United States,” Soto’s office noted before showcasing a Central Florida resident. “This legislation could help Alejandra Juarez, a Polk County resident of over 20 years, who was deported from the United States to her home country of Mexico. Alejandra’s husband, Sgt. Temo Juarez is an Iraq combat veteran who served in the Marines and the Infantry Regiment of the Army National Guard. Together, they raised their two U.S.-born daughters Pamela, 19, and Estela, 11, in Davenport, Florida.”
Earlier this week, Soto weighed in on the bill, which former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Tex., championed during his time in Congress.
“I was at the Orlando International Airport when my constituent, Alejandra Juárez, a mother and wife, boarded a plane and headed for Mexico, a country to which she was born but did not call home,” said Soto. “She left behind her two American-born daughters, Pamela and Estela, and her husband, Temo, a veteran of both the U.S. Marines and Army. Since that day, I made a promise never to give up fighting to reunite them. The American Families United Act is key to fixing the broken immigration system that tears families apart and threatens the social fabric of thousands of communities across the country. We will reunite the families impacted by the administration’s cruel immigration policies!”
“For decades, families like Edgar’s across the U.S.-Mexico border have been forced to live apart from one another due to outdated immigration laws,” said Escobar. “Thousands of innocent children and families have been separated by a border between them, and we cannot stop fighting until every single family is reunited. The American Families United Act is a critical step in the right direction and will help bring loved ones together. Much more work remains in the 117th Congress and I look forward to achieving broader, bolder, and more comprehensive changes to our immigration system in the new year.”
“Families belong together,” said Woodall who announced early last year that he would not run again in 2020. “In many cases today, immigration policy provides U.S. citizens with absolutely no pathway for citizenship—or even a legal status—for their spouse. These policies either keep families apart or encourage families to stay in the shadows. We can do and must do better. We should be encouraging people to get right by the law. This bill keeps the families of American citizens together while undocumented spouses and some parents wait in line for their chance to become an American citizen.”
The bill has the support of American Families United, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service and the American Business Immigration Coalition.
Escobar’s bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee at the end of last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.
First elected to Congress in 2016 after serving in both chambers of the Florida Legislature, Soto represents all of Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk Counties. Soto sits in what is considered a secure district for Democrats. With 56 percent of the vote, Soto bested Army veteran Bill Olson, the Republican nominee, and write-in candidate Clay Hill on Election Day.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.