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Feinstein Speaks on DACA, DREAM Act

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today spoke at a hearing to conduct oversight of the Trump administration’s decision to terminate DACA:

“I would like to begin by welcoming one of our witnesses. Her name is Denisse Rojas. She’s a DACA recipient and she has an incredible story to share with this committee. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments. She’s here from Mt. Sinai Medical School in New York City and I’ve just learned that the dean of the school is also here to witness the hearing. I believe his name is Dr. Muller so I want to say “welcome” to him.

I also want to point out that a Fox News poll has shown that 83 percent support the pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and particularly overwhelming majorities favor granting work permits—86 percent, 12 percent opposed. And U.S. citizenship, 79 percent, 19 percent opposed to illegal immigrants under the age of 30 brought here as children, provided they pass a background check.

This is higher than anything I’ve seen on health care or tax reform. And I hope it means something to the men and women of this body.

The last nine months must have been a roller coaster of uncertainty and fear for young Denisse Rojas and the rest of these young people.

There are anywhere from 699,000 to 800,000 enrolled in the DACA program who came to America at a very young age, through no choice of their own.

I do want to point out and commend Senator Durbin. He produced a bill in comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, which I voted for in the committee and on the floor, and it was a very thorough hearing and I believe there were no amendments to DACA. It was one of the things we were all very proud of.

He has been joined by Senator Graham on the Republican side now to forge a bipartisan partnership to get this done.

And I also want to thank Senator Graham for your leadership and help on this key and important issue.

The typical person on DACA came to this country at six years of age. Obviously through no will of their own as our chairman has just pointed out. So the United States is really the only home they know.

And around one-third of these live in my state of California. So, this program is particularly important for me and for my state, where it enjoys very strong support.

They contribute to our economy in so many ways. And we know that 95 percent of DACA recipients are working or are in school.

They work as doctors, engineers, and lawyers. They study in high school and college. They are teachers in high-need schools and are serving in the military. They were on the frontlines helping their community members during recent floods and hurricanes. And some are helping their communities combat today’s opioid epidemic.

They have become a part of American society, and efforts to expel them, I believe, are unconscionable.

It’s not just California, but DACA recipients came out of the shadows and they contribute to communities all across this country.

These young people have put their trust in the federal government and they have done everything asked of them. They’re counting on us to put aside partisanship and find a solution to this problem.

They’re looking to us to do what’s right. And so, by this poll and others, are the American people.

I’d like to quickly share the story of just one Dreamer I met in August—Vianney Sanchez.

Vianney was brought to this country when she was just 1. Today she lives in Oakland. She is a 23-year-old graduate from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in psychology.

After nearly 23 years in this country, her parents were recently deported. They had no criminal records. They paid taxes and they owned their own home, where I met the family Her mom worked as an oncology nurse at Highland Hospital and her dad worked as a truck driver. They paid their taxes.

Now Vianney is left, as a DACA recipient, as the major support and caregiver for her two younger, U.S. citizen sisters—Melin and Elizabeth. And she’s facing the uncertainty that she too could lose protection and be deported.

Every day that we fail to act means one more day that hundreds of thousands of Dreamers like Vianney are forced to live with this cloud hanging over them.

No family in America should be forced to face this fear and uncertainty at the hands of their own government.

So I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting Senators Graham and Durbin in passing the DREAM Act.

These youth should not be political footballs, they shouldn’t be asked to choose between their future and their families, and they should have the certainty of permanent immigration status.

I have received literally hundreds of letters in support of the DREAM Act, which I ask Mr. Chairman be inserted in the record. Thank you.

I also wanted to take a moment to recognize members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who are in attendance today. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time and I thank you.”