(BIVN) – As Hawaii’s congressional delegation rallies around Kona coffee farmer and undocumented immigrant Andres Magana Ortiz as he faces deportation to Mexico, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard took the effort a step further on Wednesday, taking the cause to the floor of the House and urging Congress to pass a ‘private bill’ she introduced this week to help Magana Ortiz.
According to Gabbard, a similar bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka to assist Chef Chai Chaowasaree in 2001. “Under the Immigration and Nationality Act,” states a Gabbard media release, “this legislation would adjust Mr. Andres Magana Ortiz’s legal status and make him eligible for legal, permanent residence in the United States where he lives in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.”
As Gabbard points out, Magana Ortiz is under threat of deportation under a Final Order of Removal issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Hawaii’s congressional delegation recently sent a letter to DHS Secretary Kelly requesting that the Department reverse its decision to deport Mr. Ortiz.
Magana Ortiz remains hopeful that he will be able to stay in Hawaii, even as his deadline to report is draws near. Big Island Video News interviewed the coffee grower on his Honaunau farm on Tuesday. He expressed gratitiude to the elected officials working to help him, far away in Washington D.C.
“The purpose of this bill is to help Mr. Ortiz with his extremely challenging situation, put him on a path to citizenship, and prevent his family from being torn apart,” Rep. Gabbard stated. “Without this legislation, Andres Ortiz faces deportation within days, after living in Hawaii for 28 years and working hard as a small business owner. His wife and children – U.S. citizens – have exhausted all of the options available to them before their father and husband is forced to leave the place he calls home in Hawaii. We need a pathway to citizenship for immigrants to ensure people who deserve to be here, can find a way to be a part of our great country. We need immigration reform that keeps families together.”
Gabbard also spoke about the pending deportation of Waimea resident Graham Ellis during her floor speech.
The Democratic Representative from Hawaii says immigration reform has been one of her top priorities throughout her time in Congress. She also co-sponsored two measures to protect families and children, including the DREAMer Information Protection Act (H.R. 532) which prohibits DHS’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) from being used for immigration enforcement proceedings and the BRIDGE Act (H.R.496) which codifies the DACA program.