PLAYER PROFILE

Raúl Grijalva

Democratic U.S. Congressman from Arizona

As one of the most progressive members of the U.S. House of Representatives and from a congressional district that includes a long stretch of border communities — including parts of major cities like Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson — Raúl Grijalva is a powerful voice on immigration policy. As the Center for Immigration Studies (an immigration reduction think tank) once described him: “Grijalva’s life in politics has been defined by his determination to knock down barriers in the way of Mexican-Americans and immigrants and, as their numbers grew, to harness their political power.”

The son of a Mexican migrant worker, Grijalva was born in Arizona and first entered politics as part of the Raza Unida Party, a political party founded in the early 1970s by Chicano civil rights activists dissatisfied with the Democratic Party. After losing a 1972 bid for a Tucson school board seat, Grijalva left the Raza Unida Party, softened several of his stances, and joined the Democratic Party. Two years later, he was elected to the Tucson school board.

In 2002, Grijalva was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In one of his first floor speeches, he called for a national holiday to honor Cesar Chavez, the American labor leader and Hispanic civil rights activist.

In 2006, Grijalva told a New York Times reporter that politicians who see political benefit in disparaging the growing number of Latinx voters in the country should be warned, “You might be getting a momentary bump, but in the long run you are going to lose.”

Whereas many Democrats are willing to exchange border security funding for advancing the DREAM Act or more protections for asylum seekers, Grijalva often draws a hard line on such bargains. In 2008, he got angry with Democratic House leaders who allowed hearings on the Secure America with Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which would have boosted border security and cracked down on employers of undocumented immigrants. He has also blasted Democratic leaders as “spineless” for not prioritizing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants and expanding visa programs to allow for more foreign workers.

SOURCES:

Grijalva’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Grijalva supports the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act (CIR ASAP) of 2009, which would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to formalize a national strategy for border security and create a Southern Border Security Task Force composed of federal, state. and local law enforcement officers to protect U.S. border cities and communities from violence and crime along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • Border Wall

    Grijalva does not support the construction of more barriers at the border, much less emergency funding from the Defense Department budget. He characterized the president’s declaration of an emergency at the border as a "pathetic attempt to circumvent Congress." In 2017, Grijalva filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its failure to provide an environmental analysis of its border wall program, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. As chairman of the House’s Natural Resources Committee, Grijalva held a hearing on sacred Native American burial sites being blown up to make room for Trump’s border wall.

  • Detention

    Grijalva supports measures that would greatly reduce the use of detention facilities for migrants and require DHS to ensure humane treatment of detainees. The requirements would include adequate medical treatment, access to telephones, and increased protection from sexual and other abuse. Grijalva sponsored the Justice Is Not for Sale Act of 2017, which would ban private prisons and detention facilities and move toward community-based alternatives to detention.

  • Immigration Courts

    Grijalva supports legislation that permits immigration judges greater discretion in determining eligibility requirements for long-term lawful permanent residents seeking cancellation of removal. He also supports permitting an immigration judge to decline to order the removal of the parent of a U.S. citizen child if the judge determines that removal would not be in the child's best interests. He also supports revising the eligibility requirements for sponsorship of detained immigrants, which would allow them to be let out on bond, by reducing the level of support required from 125 percent of poverty level to 100 percent of poverty level.

  • Undocumented Population

    Grijalva supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country without a serious criminal record.

  • ICE

    Grijalva supported a 2018 bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan, which would set up “a commission to study, audit, look at mission, and look at how we restructure ICE.”

  • DACA

    Grijalva supports making all of the protections extended to DACA enrollees permanent. He supports a pathway to citizenship for DACA enrollees and supports passage of the DREAM Act and the Dream and Promise Act.

  • Asylum

    Grijalva has repeatedly spoken out against the “Remain in Mexico” policy. He co-sponsored the Grace Act, which would raise annual refugee caps from 18,000 to 95,000. He has pointed out that historically only 3 percent of asylum seekers came from Central America. In 2017, for example, the top five countries from which refugees fled included the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Myanmar.

  • Central America Policy

    No statement found.

  • Visas

    Grijalva has generally advocated allowing more immigrant workers into the U.S. labor market. He supports the creation of a national I.D. card. He supports exempting immediate relatives from annual caps on visas and accessing unused visas from previous years.