Juana came to the United States at the age of 5. Her parents left behind careers, family, and community to build a life in America because that’s where they believed their children would have the best opportunities to succeed. Even though Juana’s parents didn’t speak English, the communities of the 3rd District welcomed the Matiases. And after two decades of hard work, Juana’s parents were able to open their own small business and achieve their American Dream. And because of their hard work, Juana and her three brothers have lived their American Dream as well.
Juana has never forgotten that her story is only possible in this country. That’s why she has dedicated her career to recognizing the promise of the America that gave her family a chance to chase, and achieve, their American Dream – an America that protects the vulnerable, strengthens families, and invests in the promise of its people.
Juana’s first job after law school was representing undocumented children in deportation proceedings. Now, as the champion of the Safe Communities Act, she is the State House leader in the fight against President Trump’s assault on immigrant communities.
Today, the anti-immigrant policies of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions stand in the way of immigration reforms that would strengthen families and communities, uphold our values, and recognize that our economy’s growth and dynamism has always depended on new Americans. Over 11 million people in the U.S. are undocumented – they’re mothers and fathers, servicemembers and teachers, students and workers, and despite their contributions to their local communities and our economy, they lack the security of citizenship. The rhetoric and policies of the Trump Administration and his allies in Congress jeopardize the lives and safety of hard working immigrants who are integral to our communities and who strive every day to live their American Dream. Immigrant owned small businesses like the one Juana’s family started employ nearly 5 million people and generate over $770 million for the economy every year. And losing the 11 million undocumented immigrants would cost our economy nearly $8 trillion over the next 14 years.
In Congress, Juana will fight back and be a leading advocate for immigrant communities and common-sense, compassionate, immigration reform.
As our Congresswoman, Juana will fight to:
- Protect Dreamers by expanding eligibility for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and passing a clean Dream Act that offers children who have grown up in the U.S. a path to citizenship. While the Trump Administration threatens the fate of thousands of hard working young people who came to the U.S. as children, our courts have thankfully provided some necessary protection to current DACA recipients. But we need long-term legislative solutions. DACA should be immediately codified into law with expanded age and eligibility requirements and with the opportunity for Dreamers who contribute to our economy, serve in our military, and strengthen our communities to earn citizenship.
- Put all Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders on a road to citizenship and avert the crisis that TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Honduras are facing due to President Trump’s actions. The Trump Administration has in effect ended the TPS program, threatening to suspend status for more than 300,000 TPS holders. These are people who have lived and worked in the United States for decades and have contributed to our economy and communities yet have no path to citizenship. Many have also raised children here who are American citizens – indeed more than 270 thousand American-born children have parents with TPS status from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Yet, Trump is proposing to break up hundreds of thousands of families by deporting the parents of American citizens. Deporting our TPS holders would also cost our economy more than $160 billion over the next decade.
- Abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a failing federal agency that in the 15 years since it was created has wasted massive federal resources, created widespread fear in immigrant communities, torn families apart, and failed to investigate widely reported instances of sexual assault in ICE detention facilities. Congress must call for a review and investigation of ICE’s problematic practices and determine which federal agency would be better suited to uphold and enforce humane immigration and customs related policies. It is clear that an agency with such a problematic track record cannot be salvaged, as it fails to use taxpayer dollars appropriately and needs a complete reset.
- End family detention, acknowledge the reality of mixed status families, and make strong families and communities a priority once again. Building on the Justice is Not for Sale Act proposed by Congressman Grijalva in 2015, we must immediately cut government funding to family detention programs given the severity of inhumane and non-compliant detention policies revealed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
- Guarantee every child legal representation in immigration proceedings. While our justice system guarantees legal representation to any citizen accused of a crime, young children without documentation often face a federal prosecutor and judge alone. Children as young as 5 years old face a day in court that can quite literally yield life or death outcomes without representation. In a nation founded on a firm belief in justice for all, this is unconscionable. As part of comprehensive immigration reform, Juana would fight for legal representation for young children in immigration proceedings, informed by her professional experience representing many children in these proceedings.
- Enact long lasting comprehensive immigration reform proposals that are driven by data and not rhetoric. Without a doubt our immigration system in the United States is outdated in many ways; we need to increase visas for workers with specialized skills, create a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, and leverage technology to make our immigration system smart, safe and more efficient. The Obama Administration estimated that comprehensive reform could support or create up to 900,000 jobs within three years of reform. It is time to develop pragmatic, progressive, and comprehensive reform that is grounded in the lived experiences of residents of the United States. We need compassionate, humane policies that clearly reflect our nation’s values, our economic interests, and a firm belief that immigration has always made America great.