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Durbin Delivers Floor Speech on the Bipartisan Agreement on the National Security Supplemental and Border Security

While Durbin praised the supplemental’s provisions to help our allies around the world, he condemned the exclusion of Dreamers and urged his colleagues to pass comprehensive immigration reform to include Dreamers

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today delivered a speech on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan agreement on the national security supplemental and border security.  During his speech, Durbin praised the inclusion of critical aid to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and Taiwan to meet their urgent national security and humanitarian needs.  During his speech, Durbin condemned Republicans’ demands to tie border policy with an aid package—using national security as a bargaining chip.

“The future and fate of Europe, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific hung in the balance,” Durbin said.  “Our response to Putin’s aggression has consequences, not just in Ukraine or even Russia, but global and historic consequences.  In fact, NATO’s Secretary-General Stoltenberg recently issued a very plain warning to us in the West.  He said that if Putin wins, there is a ‘real risk that his aggression will not end there.’  Putin will continue to wage his war beyond Ukraine.  Further, if other despots sense Western weakness, they will be emboldened to attempt their own aggression.”

“It is time for Speaker Johnson and Republicans to realize that bipartisanship is the only way to ensure that Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and innocent civilians in Gaza will receive critical, lifesaving assistance.  Let’s not flinch when it comes to standing up to such obvious threats to democracy and the rule of law.  The world is watching, and that is why we must pass this national security package,” Durbin continued.

While Durbin praised the national security provisions and elements of the bill that address immigration reform, such as a one-time increase in green cards and protections for the children of H-1B visa holders who age out of legal status when they turn 21, he expressed disappointment that the bill does not include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, recipients of Temporary Protected Status, farmworkers, and other essential workers who have spent years contributing to our society.  A study showed that undocumented immigrants pay nearly $80 billion in federal and over $40 billion in state and local taxes each year. 

As the lead author of the Dream Act, Durbin has been a champion for immigration reform for years.  The Dream Act would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers across the country and allow Dreamers to find stability in the United States.  Durbin, along with seven of his Republican and Democratic colleagues, authored a comprehensive immigration reform package that would have addressed many of the challenges our nation faces at the border today.  That legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support in 2013 but did not receive a vote in the Republican-controlled House.  Twelve years ago, in response to a bipartisan request from Durbin and the late Senator Richard Lugar, President Obama established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  DACA has protected more than 800,000 young people from deportation—all of whom arrived in our country as children.

“These young people are known as Dreamers. They grew up alongside our children, and many have gone on to serve our nation as service members, doctors, and first responders.  They, too, believe in the American Dream,” Durbin said.  “I've come to the floor of this Senate 138 times to tell their stories.  I don't think there's any more compelling argument that can be made for the Dreamers than to let people know exactly who they are, what they have done, and what they dream of.”

During his speech, Durbin highlighted the story of Alyssandra Abrenica, a Dreamer that came to Orange County, California, from the Philippines as a young girl and eventually studied at the University of Loyola–Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago.  In 2020, Alyssandra was chosen as one of the first recipients of the American Medical Association’s Dream MD Equity Scholarship, which is given to a DACA recipient or first-generation immigrant studying medicine who has advocated for their community.

“But DACA was always intended to be a temporary solution.  And since President Obama established the program, Republicans, for reasons I cannot explain to you in any political or human terms, have waged a relentless campaign to overturn it and deport these Dreamers back to countries they may not even remember,” Durbin said.  “Until a permanent solution is written into law, Alyssandra’s service to her community is at risk—as is the service of other Dreamers who work as teachers, doctors, engineers, and so many more professionals.”

If DACA is struck down, experts predict that our economy would lose an estimated $11.7 billion each year in lost wages.  As we face a decreasing population and shortages of medical professionals, immigrants can help mitigate that gap.   And without continued immigration, the U.S. working-age population will shrink by over six million by 2040.  As Americans retire, this could lead to a 23 percent reduction in monthly Social Security payouts to retirees.

Durbin continued, “To resolve these challenges, we need to create additional lawful pathways for immigrants, while also providing legal status for our undocumented population who have been here for decades.  That’s why good faith efforts to reform and improve our broken immigration system cannot stop with this bill.  If we truly want to boost our economy and resolve our labor shortages, we need to provide a path to citizenship for those who have been here for decades.”

Durbin concluded, “I will tell you this: I'll fight for every opportunity I have to bring the Dream Act before the United States Senate in the hope that one day we will give these young people exactly what they deserve—to be part of America’s future.”

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.