Skip to Content

Press Releases

Pennsylvania state icon

Houlahan Visits Southern Border, Leads Colleagues in Bipartisan Immigration Reform Push

  • Houlahan at southern border

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) visited El Paso, Texas, situated along the southern border, last week as part of a congressional delegation. There, Houlahan visited the El Paso del Norte Bridge, USBP El Paso Sector Enhanced Holding Facility (EHF), Annunciation House shelter, and El Paso County Migrant Support Services Center. Following the visit, Houlahan penned an op-ed in Newsweek about the need to reform our broken immigration system and spoke on the House floor urging Speaker Johnson to reverse course and bring up a bipartisan immigration bill for a vote.


"I continue to be saddened, angry, and frustrated by what's happening at our southern border and Speaker Johnson's refusal to consider bipartisan legislation," said Houlahan. "For years, my Republican colleagues have insisted on stronger border security and fixes to our broken immigration system. Now that we have a bipartisan bill that delivers the vast majority of the security investments they want and helps potential newcomers follow the law, their sense of urgency has evaporated. It is time to start asking why Republican leadership won’t say yes to border security."




WATCH: Houlahan spoke during a Special Hour on the House floor at 9 p.m. last night to urge Republican leadership to bring bipartisan immigration reform and border security for a vote. Her full speech can be found here, and remarks below:


Thank you, Representative Escobar, for yielding your time and also welcoming me to your community just a few days ago. 


Last week, I had the opportunity to visit our southern border by way of El Paso. This was my second time to the border. Similar to the op-ed I published in Newsweek earlier today, I’d like to share my reaction to this important and eye-opening congressional delegation. 


If you’re a Pennsylvanian like me, you know we just observed Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, so we can all expect an early spring.  


At our country’s southwestern border, it feels like every day is Groundhog Day. Like so many Americans, I’m a combination of angry, frustrated, and heartbroken by what continues to happen there—day after day and year after year and decade after decade. 


We know our immigration policies must align with the shared values of our country; a country primarily built by immigrants. We must welcome new arrivals compassionately while protecting and securing our safety and economy.  


My community is thousands of miles away from the southern border, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. We face unique challenges regarding immigration, but what’s not unique is that EVERY community has felt the impact in some way of our fractured and broken immigration system. 


My visit to the southern border last week was not my first. Previously, I went to Brownsville, Texas, in 2019. What my trips have taught me is that our system is broken but can be repaired. 


I have seen the effects of important changes Congress has implemented since my first visit. Gone are the dehumanizing cages and the literal smell of humanity. In their place is a clean and dignified environment centered on the health and well-being of the migrants and the incredibly dedicated Americans working on behalf of our country. There is still an enormous amount of work to be done to secure the border with enhanced processes, more staffing, and better systems, but the difference is palpable.  


Most significantly, though, what has not improved is the volume of migrants and the fact that there is no other path than this desperate one for people seeking a better life in our vibrant and healthy economy. We don’t need more of the same expensive band aids but rather real reform with more legal pathways to come here and participate in our nation’s next 250 years. 


I am committed to bipartisanship and securing our border, and I am asking the same from Congress, specifically our Speaker. The message I want to share today is this: Our Republican leadership in Congress needs to commit to bringing bipartisan immigration reform bills, like Rep. Veronica Escobar’s (D-TX) bipartisan DIGNITY Act, to the floor for a vote now.  


As an example, here’s what the DIGNITY Act would do:    


  1. Provide more money for CBP and border infrastructure to prevent illegal immigration  
  2. Require employers to verify the immigration status of workers, to ensure they’re here lawfully  
  3. Provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers (children of immigrants who came here when they were very young)  
  4. Establish a path to permanent residency status for eligible individuals without lawful immigration status who meet various requirements, including paying into a fund to provide training to U.S. workers.   


Let us pause and think about what I’ve just shared – policies that the vast, vast majority of Americans agree on. If we, as a Congress, are not passing legislation that the vast, vast majority of Americans agree on, I truly believe we are derelict in our duty. 


Efforts like the Senate’s bipartisan bill introduced yesterday must also be considered and voted on. While I’m still reading through the details of the 370-page bill, I’m encouraged by the summary I’ve seen. While the path forward on immigration reform will likely not be straightforward, this much is true...


We must reach a compromise with real solutions to this complex issue NOW.


I’m calling on Speaker Johnson to change his deeply cynical position that “now is not the time” for immigration reform—I couldn’t disagree more. Most people in communities across America couldn’t disagree more.   


No solution will be perfect, but we cannot let that keep us from making progress for both the American people and those who seek refuge here. 


Not too long ago, it was my own family seeking shelter—my father and grandmother survived the Holocaust. They left war-torn Poland after World War II and sought a better way of life in the United States. I saw my young dad and grandmother in the eyes of frightened, desperate, and hopeful migrants I met this weekend.  


One small family unit in particular stuck with me: A young man of probably no more than 20 years old with his beautiful curly-headed toddler. He told me about traffickers taking pictures of his son to intimidate and extort the father into conformance with their threats and demands. We can do better.  


A lot has changed since my father and grandmother took a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City, and our immigration laws must change, too. 


I honor the souls—both migrant and American—whose lives collide each day at our borders, and I again urge Republican leadership to bring a bipartisan border bill to the House floor. We must seek the hope of fresh opportunities. The shadows that burden us all must be lifted. That is possible, but only if we here in Congress understand that this nation depends on us to act NOW. 


With that, I encourage all of my colleagues to support bipartisan immigration reform and I yield back to Rep. Escobar. Thank you.




Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She represents Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the recipient of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award which “recognizes members who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward” and the Congressional Management Foundation’s 2022 Democracy Award for best Constituent Services in Congress.