Albio Sires was born on January 26, 1951, in Bejucal, Cuba. He and his parents fled that country (and the Castro dictatorship) in 1962 and moved to the United States, where Sires went on to earn BA degrees in both marketing and Spanish at Saint Peter’s College in 1974, and an MA in Spanish at Middlebury College in 1983. He also worked for a number of years as a high-school teacher and sports coach, and was the owner of the New Jersey-based American Title Agency, Inc.
Sires identified himself as a Democrat in the 1970s and ’80s, then switched to the Republican Party in 1985 and made an unsuccessful run for Congress the following year. He eventually left the Republican Party in 1994 and, as a registered independent, was elected in 1995 as mayor of West New York (in New Jersey), a position he held until 2006. In 1998 — in the midst of his mayoral tenure — Sires officially became a Democrat once again. Also while he was mayor, Sires served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2000-06. Then — in a special 2006 election which was held to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat recently vacated by Bob Menendez — the voters of New Jersey’s 13th Congressional District elected Sires to the U.S. House. Sires held that seat until 2012, at which time it was eliminated as a result of the 2010 Census. In 2012 Sires was elected to represent the newly created 8th District, where he continues to serve as a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Particularly outspoken on immigration-related matters, Sires strongly supports “comprehensive immigration reform” that would provide a “pathway-to-citizenship” for millions of illegal aliens residing in the United States. He also backs the DREAM Act, legislation that aims to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of so-called “Dreamers” — i.e., illegal-alien teens and young adults who first came to the United States as minors.
Sires strongly objected to a January 2017 executive order by which President Donald Trump sought to advance his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Asserting that “building a wall would cost the taxpayers billions of dollars while doing nothing to reform our broken immigration system,” Sires claimed that “this decision could also estrange our neighbors in the region and negatively affect security cooperation.”
Sires was equally opposed to yet another January 2017 executive order issued by Trump, in which the president called for the cessation of certain federal grants to sanctuary cities (where illegal aliens are protected by local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities). “Sanctuary cities exist to encourage residents to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement officials without the fear that they will be detained,” Sires explained. “These actions [by Trump] are counterproductive and will only put more people at risk.” In an effort to “counteract” Trump’s executive order, Sires co-sponsored the “Safeguarding Sanctuary Cities Act of 2017” (H.R. 748), which stipulated that federal financial assistance could not be denied to any state or local government for reason of its noncompliance with federal immigration authorities.
Sires was again outraged by a 2017 executive order whereby President Trump attempted to place a temporary moratorium on the issuance of visas for people seeking to travel to the United States from seven majority-Muslim nations that were hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. “It is deeply disappointing that [President Trump has doubled down on his corrosive and prejudiced campaign rhetoric,” said Sires. “The President’s executive actions discriminate against Muslims who are desperately trying to escape enslavement, torture, and oppression. Islam is a religion of peace that has been thwarted and manipulated by certain ruthless murderous thugs.” To counter Trump’s edict, Sires co-sponsored the “Statue of Liberty Values Act of 2017” (H.R. 724), which declared that Trump’s executive order “is null and void, shall have no force and effect, and may not be implemented, administered, enforced, or carried out.”
When President Trump in September 2017 announced his wish to phase out former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, which had begun with a 2012 executive action temporarily protecting hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” from deportation, Sires said: “The President’s [Trump’s] cruel and reprehensible decision to end DACA … is inhumane and devastating for families and communities across the country. In doing so, the President is also hurting our economy and our national security while diverting critical law enforcement efforts that should be focused on those who pose a true danger to public safety…. This decision targets millions of hardworking people who were brought here as young children and know no country but America as their home…. America was built on the hard work of immigrants, and our diversity is part of the foundation of our nation…. This decision is another manifestation of the President’s anti-immigrant rhetoric that has emboldened hatred, racism, and bigotry.”
For an overview of Sires’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
Further Reading: “Albio Sires” (Votesmart.org, Ballotpedia); “Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, at a Glance” (Asbury Park Press); “Congressman Sires’ Response to the Actions of the New Administration” (2-17-2017); Sires’s statements regarding immigration, the DREAM Act, and DACA).