- Was elected to the House of Representatives in 2004
- Became a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
- Supporter of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Opposes the construction of a wall along America's southern border
- Supporter of sanctuary cities
- Accuses ICE of engaging in anti-immigrant cruelty
James Manuel Costa was born on April 13, 1952 in Fresno, California, where he has lived ever since. He earned a BS in political science from California State University at Fresno (CSU-Fresno) in 1974; served as a special assistant to U.S. Representative John Krebs (D-California) in 1975-76; and was an administrative assistant to California State Assembly Member Richard Lehman from 1976-78. A lifelong Democrat, Costa subsequently served in the California State Assembly from 1978-94, and in the California Senate from 1994-2002. In 2004 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by the voters in California’s 20th Congressional District. He has been re-elected every two years since then, though in 2012 his district was renumbered as the 16th.
As a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Costa has been particularly vocal on issues related to immigration and refugee policies. In the summer of 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum from Central America were illegally flooding across the Mexican border and into a number of southern U.S. states, Costa and his fellow CHC members argued in favor of permitting them to continue their migration. Costa in particular called for the “humane treatment of these children who are escaping atrocities” and who “need our help and support.”
Though Costa in 2006 had voted in favor of the construction of a border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, in 2017 he harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s proposal for a border wall, characterizing it as a measure that “does little, if anything, to improve our national security.” “I genuinely would like to work with the President,” said the congressman, “but I will not stand by as he works to implement policies that hurt immigrant communities, negatively impact California’s agriculture industry, and weaken our nation’s economy.”
Costa supports the right of local government officials in sanctuary cities to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. In 2017 he voted against HR 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which proposed that federal funds be withheld from localities that practiced sanctuary policies.
Costa has long supported the DREAM Act — legislation that aims to legalize and eventually naturalize a large number of illegal-alien teens and young adults (“Dreamers”) who first came to the United States as minors — and to provide them with a pathway to citizenship. In January 2018, the congressman met with several Dreamers at CSU-Fresno and pledged his support: “We must protect DREAMers here in the San Joaquin Valley and across our country. It is simply the right thing to do.”
When President Trump in September 2017 called for the termination of former President Barack Obama‘s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action — which had conferred temporary protection from deportation upon some 800,000 illegal aliens — Costa issued a statement accusing the Trump administration of taking “a significant step backwards by threatening to force nearly 800,000 young immigrants from the country they call home.” Moreover, the congressman called on House and Senate leaders to join him “in a bipartisan effort to pass the BRIDGE Act, which will protect our DREAMers for the next three years.”
Costa is a passionate supporter of “comprehensive immigration reform” that provides an “earned pathway” to citizenship for illegal aliens. He also has characterized the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s worksite audits as a waste of resources that would be better spent on other things. “We need to focus immigration enforcement on the real threats: transnational criminal gangs, human and drug traffickers, and terrorists,” said Costa in March 2018. “Instead of using its limited resources to apprehend hardened criminals, ICE is sending its agents to go check employment paperwork. We need smart law enforcement, not policies that intimidate immigrants, divide communities, and undermine our economy.”
As for Costa’s positions on a variety of key political and social issues, he:
● strongly favors government-enforced affirmative-action policies designed to compensate nonwhites and women for the effects of past and present discrimination;
● strongly believes that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) should be expanded, and that a government-run, single-payer system would solve most health-care problems;
● strongly opposes the implementation of voucher programs designed to promote school choice;
● strongly favors the elimination of Voter ID laws, on the premise that they are racist schemes designed to make it unnecessarily difficult for nonwhites and the poor to vote in political elections; and
● strongly favors the use of federal funds and direct federal job-creation measures to help the U.S. economy recover from recession, rather than entrusting the recovery to free-market forces.
For an overview of Costa’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
For additional information on Jim Costa, click here.
Further Reading: “Jim Costa” (OnTheIssues.org); “Costa Statement on Executive Order to Build Wall on the U.S.-Mexico Border” (1-26-2017 ); “Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump” (FiveThirtyEight.com); “Costa Meets With Fresno State DREAMers …” (1-26-2018); “Costa Statement on the Termination of DACA” (9-5-2017); “[Costa] Leads Hispanic Caucus in Calling for End to Work Site Audits” (3-29-2018).