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Durbin Slams Republican Governors for Exploiting Migrant Families for Cruel Political Stunts

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin praises Democratic governors and organizations who have united around one of America’s most fundamental values: helping refugees seeking safety

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, yesterday told the story of a migrant family he met at the Salvation Army Rescue Center in the West Side of Chicago: Carlos, his wife, and their two young daughters, who sought asylum in the United States in order to escape danger in Venezuela. Carlos’s family is one of the more than 500 migrant families whom Texas Governor Greg Abbott has put on a bus to Chicago in recent weeks.

“Venezuela is in a disastrous situation—so dangerous that the United States warns travelers not to go to Venezuela,” Durbin said.“Carlos reached the point that even working as hard as he could, he couldn't feed his family. So, on May 15, he and his wife decided to pick up their children and try to make it to the border of the United States [and] try to find work. It took them five months—and they went through everything you can imagine… They were robbed, beaten up… They finally made it, and now they’re here in Chicago.”

Durbin continued, “I asked him what he wanted. He said, ‘I just want to go to work. I'll take any job’ … We have 11 million jobs that need to be filled… I had the Illinois Farm Bureau come and see me. They started talking about their need for immigrant labor on the farms of America... We need to have legal immigration into the United States—controlled, legal immigration into the United States for work purposes.”

Governor Abbott is one of several Republican governors who have recently exploited families seeking asylum for cruel political stunts—often sending them thousands of miles away from their intended destinations. Meanwhile, cities like Chicago and national and local groups like Salvation Army and Catholic Charities USA have stepped up to offer refuge and care for these families.

Durbin continued, “As we debate the politics of why they're here and why they should stay, we shouldn't do it at the expense of clear American values of caring. We're not going to allow the kids to reach a situation and be the victims of our political debates. We don't want kids in cages or forcibly removed from their parents or suffer on these bus rides not knowing where they will end up and what will happen to them next. We're better than that as Americans and we're better than that as a nation of immigrants.”

Durbin concluded, “I'm a son of an immigrant to this country… If you look in any direction, you're going to find immigrants -- sons and daughters of immigrants -- who really have made America what it is today. Let's get this right on a bipartisan basis… And, in the meantime, let us treat these people who are coming to our country and are now legally in the country with dignity and respect.” 

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.