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Durbin Files Dream Act Amendment to the National Security Supplemental

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced on the Senate floor that he has filed the Dream Act as an amendment to the National Security Supplemental.  The legislation would allow noncitizens without lawful status who were brought to the United States as children and meet certain education or work requirements to earn lawful permanent residence.  These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.  However, under current law there is often no chance for them to become citizens and fulfill their potential.

Durbin filed this amendment with Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and other cosponsors are Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chris Coons (D-DE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“I introduced this legislation more than 20 years ago.  It provides a path to citizenship for young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and allows them to remain in the United States—their home,” said Durbin.  “They went to school here.  They stood up each morning in the classroom and pledged allegiance to that same flag we just pledged allegiance to.  They believed they were part of this country. It wasn't until they were usually 10 or 12 years old their parents told them ‘your legal status is uncertain, you’re undocumented, we don’t know what your future holds, be careful.  If you’re not careful, you could be deported, and we could be deported with you.’  That terrible circumstance prevailed for hundreds of thousands of young people in this country.  The Dream Act said give them a chance to earn their pathway to citizenship.  Thats what the bill said when it was introduced. They’ve known no other home.  Yet, without congressional action, they spend every day in fear of deportation,” said Durbin.

During his speech, Durbin told the story of Tatiana Vazquez Lopez, a Dreamer who is currently studying at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois.  Tatiana was born in Guatemala and came to the United States when she was just 11 months old.  She grew up in Alabama and became an integral part of her community.  Tatiana hopes to get her Ph.D. in psychiatry so she can work as a trauma therapist specializing in helping families and children.  She is now a leader in the Chicagoland community as President of the Organization of Latin American Students.  Tatiana is currently protected from deportation thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

“This is the 140th time that I have told the story of a Dreamer here on the floor of the United States Senate.  I can make speeches about the subject, but if you meet these young people and hear their life story, it’s a much more convincing experience,” Durbin continued. 

More than 20 years ago, Durbin first introduced the Dream Act.  In 2010, Durbin sent a letter, joined by then-Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), asking then-President Obama to stop the deportation of Dreamers.  Nearly 12 years ago, President Obama responded by announcing the DACA program.  More than 800,000 Dreamers have since come forward and received DACA, which has allowed them to contribute more fully to their country as teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, and small business owners.  Dreamers are protected from deportation for now, but due to lawsuits by extreme MAGA Republicans, their fates are in the hands of a Republican-appointed judge who has repeatedly found DACA and other programs like it unlawful.

Last September, a federal judge in Texas declared the DACA program illegal.  Though the decision left in place protections for current DACA recipients while the appeal is pending, they live in fear that the next court decision will upend their lives.

Durbin continued, “Though the decision left in place protections for current DACA recipients like Tatiana while the appeal is pending, all of them live in fear that the next court decision will dramatically change their lives.  Until a permanent solution is written into law, Tatiana’s service to her community is at risk, as is the service of Dreamers who work as doctors, teachers, engineers, and so much more across America.”

Durbin concluded, “I introduced the Dream Act more than 20 years ago to provide a solution—a path to citizenship for Dreamers.  That solution is long overdue and should be acted on as quickly as possible.  We should all be able to agree that Dreamers only make America better.  We in Congress must do better by them.  I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting Dreamers and work with me to provide them with a path to be a part of America’s future.  This amendment would do just that.” 

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.

The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin 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.  Over the years, Senate Republicans have filibustered the Dream Act at least five times.