Bonamici Town Hall: Working on immigration, health care and other issues
Over the last year 1 1/2 years, the constituents in U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici's 1st Congressional District who contact her have increased three-fold to talk about the following issues, ranked in order: health care, immigrant family separations, the environment, the Trump administration and social security.
The Democratic representative spoke before a crowd of about 80 area residents Monday during a town hall meeting at Tualatin High School.
Bonamici told those gathered that she is working with Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle when it comes to addressing such issues as the threatened coverage of those with pre-existing conditions who are part of the Affordable Care Act, or what's often referred to as Obamacare.
"We need to work together," she said. "We need to do better."
At the same time, Bonamici said that the country needs to find a way to provide for affordable child care, noting too that the United States is one of only a few countries where mothers must return within two weeks of having a child "because they can't afford to stay home." She later said the country would be stronger with paid family leave.
"That's family values to me," she said.
Bonamici, who is on the House Education and the Workforce Comittee as well as the Science, Space and Technology Committee, said she is also concerned about the Trump administration's imposed tariffs.
"So many of our businesses are being hit by retaliatory tariffs," she said. Those include hazelnut farmers, who have been hit with retaliatory Chinese tariffs of 65 percent for in-shell hazelnuts. (Oregon produces almost 100 percent of all hazelnuts, also called filberts, in the country.)
Bonamici left most of her Town Hall meeting open for audience questions. Among them were:
-- What's the status on the undocumented immigrant detainees being held at a federal prison in Sheridan?
"We're doing everything we can in our office in working with volunteer attorneys," she said, noting that there are still men being held under strict security who come from countries such as India, South and Central America and Africa under strict security.
"They are seeking asylum in our country because they are fearing for their lives," she said. "It is completely unacceptable."
She said there's a need for comprehensive immigration reform.
"This administration would have turned my Grandma away," she pointed out.
-- Is FEMA ready for the "Big One," the devastating earthquake predicted for Oregon?
"I don't think they are as ready as they could be," she said. "The more we prepare in advance, the better we'll be." She said that she was discouraged by the fact that some money that once went to FEMA is now being used to create immigrant incarceration centers. Bonamici and Jaime Herrera (R-Wash.) previously helped push through a bill that prepares coastal communities for tsunamis.
-- One audience member, referring to the Trump presidency, asked the Congresswoman: "Do you wake up in the morning and say, 'how the hell did this happen?'" with another attendee later observing, "Ever since the election, I wake up afraid of this administration and its policies."
Bonamici said she understands such feeling, noting that many of those in her district are "counting on me to be their voice" in Washington, D.C.
And while there might be a popular perception that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting all the time, that's not the case. She also said she has confidence in the checks and balances of each branch of government.
Still, she pointed out, "Every day is a new surprise."