January 25, 2021

Rep. Castro Reintroduces Immigration Bills for the New Congress

WASHINGTON — Today, January 25th, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) introduced three pieces of legislation to restore dignity and protections for immigrants in the United States. All three bills had previously been introduced in the 116th Congress. The reintroduced immigration legislation includes: 

  • The Jakelin Caal Death in Custody Reporting Act. Named in honor of Jakelin Caal, a 7-year-old girl who died in U.S. government custody after crossing the border, this legislation requires the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services to report on and investigate all migrant deaths that occur in government custody, bringing transparency and accountability to agencies that have held refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers in life-threatening conditions. 

  • The CHANGE Act. This legislation eliminates the term “alien” and “illegal alien” from federal law and replaces them with “foreign national” and “undocumented foreign national,” to restore humanity in the language of our immigration laws. Notably, a similar proposal is included in President Biden’s proposed U.S. Citizenship Act to reform our inhumane and broken immigration system. 

  • A Private Bill for Sanctuary Relief. This private bill would provide permanent resident status and rescind ICE orders of removal for Alirio Gamez, a Salvadoran refugee, and Hilda Ramirez and her son Ivan, Guatemalan refugees. All three individuals have been living in Austin-area houses of worship for years as a last resort to avoid deportation back to the danger they fled, sheltered by dedicated faith communities. Rep. Castro has met all three individuals, and personally escorted Hilda and Ivan to an ICE office to ask for humanitarian relief. This private bill offers them the opportunity to finally leave the sanctuaries they have been sheltered in and begin safe and full lives in the United States. 

Following the reintroduction of his legislation, Rep. Castro issued the following statement:

“With a new administration in office, these bills now have a far greater chance of becoming laws. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Biden administration on long-overdue immigration reform, and I’m optimistic that my legislation will be included in a broader effort to protect the most vulnerable among us and restore America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.”