February 04, 2021

Twenty Years Since It Was First Introduced, Durbin Calls On The Senate To Finally Make The Dream Act The Law Of The Land

WASHINGTON – Twenty years since he first introduced the Dream Act, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the Senate to finally make the bipartisan Dream Act the law of the land.  The bill would allow immigrant students who were brought here as children and grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.  Durbin, along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will introduce the Dream Act today. 

“In one of his first official acts… President Biden signed an Executive Order on January 20 to restore DACA.  I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for making DACA one of his highest priorities.  Without DACA, hundreds of thousands of talented young people who have grown up in our country cannot continue their work and are at risk of deportation to countries they barely remember, if they remember at all,” Durbin said.  “But the resumption of DACA is just the first step toward justice for Dreamers.  Only legislation by Congress can provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers… to all of the Dreamers out there, let me tell you this: passing the Dream Act is still my highest legislative priority.” 

To highlight the importance of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the need to enact the Dream Act, Durbin shared the story of Ana Cueva, the 128th Dreamer whose story Durbin has told on the Senate floor.  Ana was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was only five years old.  She grew up in Orem, Utah.  Thanks to DACA, Ana became an ICU Registered Nurse.  Most of her nursing career has been in her home state of Utah, but during the COVID-19 pandemic she has become a travel nurse and has worked in California, Massachusetts, Idaho, and Texas. 

“If we lost Ana and people like her in the middle of a pandemic, what would we be thinking?  So the fight is on for Ana and for hundreds of thousands just like her who simply want a chance to earn their way to legal status and citizenship in the United States of America,” Durbin said.  “It would be a tragedy for us to turn away these brave, talented, and determined professionals in the midst of this pandemic.  So we have to get to work in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor of the Senate.  This is the year.  This is the time.  When we can come together and make a difference in the future of America.  To Ana, we need you.  We want you.  We want to make you part of the future of this country because you’re such an important part of America today.  This Dream Act means a lot to me.  We need to make it the law.” 

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations. 

Durbin first introduced the Dream Act twenty years ago.  The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin and Graham coauthored as part of the “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans.  The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it. 

About Ana Cueva 

Ana was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was only five years old.  She grew up in Orem, Utah.  Ana was an excellent student.  She was President of the National Honor Society chapter of her high school.  She graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, and volunteered at a local hospital during her junior and senior years. 

Ana’s dream was to become a nurse.  Ana wrote, “My mom became very sick.  She required emergency surgery for a brain tumor.  It was one year after arriving to the U.S., so her English was limited.  After her recovery, she has always said the nurses who cared for her were kind and patient.  Even though they couldn't communicate very well, they touched her very deeply.  I wanted to do for others what these nurses did for my mom.”  

Driven by this commitment, Ana earned an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Utah Valley University.  Thanks to DACA, Ana became an ICU Registered Nurse.  Most of her nursing career has been in her home state of Utah, but during the COVID-19 pandemic she has become a travel nurse and has worked in California, Massachusetts, Idaho, and Texas. 

-30-