Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 1548, Private Bill for Maria Carmen Castro Ramirez and J. Refugio Carreño Rojas:
"The Committee will now consider H.R. 1548, a private bill for the relief of Maria Carmen Castro Ramirez and J. Refugio Carreño Rojas.
"This legislation would provide the beneficiaries with an opportunity to apply for and be granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Ms. Castro Ramirez and Mr. Carreño Rojas were born in Mexico and have resided in the United States for more than 30 years. They are married and have 3 U.S. citizen children:Guadalupe, age 26; Ivan, age 25; and their youngest, Jose, age 12. The family is extremely close-knit and reside together in a home outside San Francisco.
"Two of their children suffer from severe medical conditions. Guadalupe was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child. Her condition can lead to permanent neurological impairment and life-threatening seizures if not properly controlled. The medication that Guadalupe is required to take to manage her epilepsy is not widely available in Mexico.
"Twelve-year-old Jose suffers from severe asthma, which requires regular treatment from a pulmonologist, prescription medication, and additional treatment including, at times, emergency hospital care.He also receives psychological treatment to address suicidal thoughts and anxiety associated with the potential separation of his family and the effects of bullying.
"Jose has been recently evaluated by a therapist who has concluded that if he were to be separated from his parents due to their forced relocation to Mexico, he would certainly face a 'significant crisis' leading to a worsening of his condition.
"Jose also recently suffered a perforated ear drum, which has resulted in hearing loss and requires surgery to correct.
"Ms. Castro Ramirez also struggles with mental health issues, which were triggered when she was attacked at knife point and robbed while walking home from work in 2018. She has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and experiences depression and anxiety. She receives regular therapy and takes medication to help manage these symptoms.
"Fortunately, both husband and wife, who are union members and are gainfully employed, have health insurance which allows them to receive the medical care they require.
"If the family were forced to relocate to Mexico, however, they would lose their current insurance benefits and would be subjected to sub-standard medical care, which could cause their conditions to worsen.
"One year ago today, the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship convened and passed a motion by bipartisan voice vote to ask the Department of Homeland Security to produce a departmental report on the beneficiaries of this bill. This report revealed no criminal history or other derogatory information on the beneficiaries.
"As the victim of an assault and robbery, Ms. Castro Ramirez cooperated with the police and filed a request for U nonimmigrant status. However, the petition is still pending and even if it is approved, it will be many years before relief could be granted due to the significant backlog of U visa petitions. Enactment of a private bill is the only option for this family to receive the permanent relief they require.
"In 2012, under the leadership of Former Chairman Lamar Smith, the Judiciary Committee considered this bill and ordered it favorably reported, without amendment on a bipartisan basis. It is my hope that we can do so once again today.
"Later that year, the House passed the bill by unanimous consent. Although the Senate failed to move this bill in 2012, it is also my hope that the Senate will join us this time around. This family deserves the relief that this bill will provide—lawful permanent residence—and the peace of mind that comes with it.
"I thank Speaker Pelosi for introducing this compassionate legislation and I urge my colleagues to support the bill."