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Durbin Slams Republicans on Their Inability to Support Meaningful Immigration Reform, Address Urgent National Security Needs

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin highlighted the dire need to address the border, and pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes 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 condemning his Republican colleagues for their failure to help secure the border and provide aid to Ukraine, Israel, Gaza, and Taiwan to meet urgent national security and humanitarian needs.  Durbin began his speech by highlighting the Senate’s bipartisan national security supplemental agreement that was announced on Sunday and would address our border and provide aid to our allies.  In a stunning reversal, Senate Republicans opposed the bipartisan agreement, refusing to address these pressing issues, and instead prioritizing Donald Trump’s demands.

“Four months ago, the President put together a supplemental appropriations bill… It addressed the situation in the Middle East, the Far East, and the looming humanitarian crisis around the world, including Gaza, that needed to be addressed.  We wanted to move on this in a timely basis, but there was an objection.  The objection came from the other side of the aisle—Republican Senators—who said you need to include border security. What is happening on our Southern border cannot be ignored.  We discussed it for a period of time and then agreed with them. We were going to work together on a bipartisan basis—Republicans and Democrats—to change what was happening on America's Southern border, to make us safe and to bring order to the situation,” said Durbin. 

“We were prepared to see this pass and hoped for the best in the House of Representatives,” Durbin continued.  “And then the bottom dropped out.  One thing happened that we didn't anticipate.  One person in America came out against the proposal.  One person said to the Republican senators, ‘sorry, no matter what you agreed to, it’s unacceptable.  Blame it on me,’ he said, ‘but we’re not going to have a bipartisan agreement on the border.’  This is unacceptable.  That one person is Donald Trump.”

Durbin continued his speech by highlighting the detrimental national security consequences we could face if we do not provide aid to our international allies, and as a result, pander to Vladimir Putin. 

“It’s hard to imagine that the party of Ronald Reagan and John McCain, the party that claimed to stand strong against Communism—just played right into the former KGB apparatchik Vladimir Putin’s hand,” said Durbin.  “Putin and his Iranian and North Korean enablers are trying to roll back Western democracy and restore Soviet glory.”

During his speech, Durbin argued that if Donald Trump wins the 2024 election, it would be a win for Vladimir Putin, and exactly what he wants.  Durbin also commented on what the late Senator John McCain would think today of his Senate Republican colleagues who are playing right into Putin’s hand.  McCain was a fierce critic of Putin.

“Many Congressional Republicans have spoken loudly about defending Ukraine and the NATO alliance.  They’ve traveled to NATO summits and Munich Security conferences to support this mission.  They’ve also visited Ukraine, followed by press conferences with belligerent claims that President Biden isn’t doing enough.  But today the fate of Ukraine hangs in the balance on the floor of the United States Senate.  It seems too many of my colleagues have collectively cowered to Donald Trump, who wants to tank the supplemental funding agreement for his own cynical reasons,” Durbin continued.

Durbin said, “It’s time we show some of [the late-John McCain’s] courage here in Congress and make sure we pass the emergency national security funding.  Last I checked, protecting democracy and safeguarding American security was a bipartisan cause, and it should be still.”

During his speech, Durbin also urged his colleagues to pass a comprehensive immigration package that includes a path to 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.

Durbin highlighted the story of Dr. Jaquelin Solis, a Dreamer who immigrated to the United States from Peru when she was ten.  Thanks to DACA, Jaquelin was able to attend medical school and last year, she graduated from Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch College of Medicine—the first medical school to accept DACA recipients.  She is now completing her Pediatrics residency at Emory University Hospital.

“DACA allowed her to come out of the shadows and give back to a country she grew up [in] and loves—the United States.  She hopes to be an agent of change in her community, where she mentors medical students and first-generation low-income students,” Durbin continued. “Ask yourself this: would America be better off if Dr. Jaquelin Solis and Dreamers like her were unable to work in the United States?  Still 20 years later, we are trying our best to make sure these young people have a fighting chance to be part of America’s future.”

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.

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 concluded, “On the subject of immigration—the border is critical, it's important, [and] I want to be part of that consideration.  But please, don't forget the Dreamers and so many people who have proven over and over again they will be our future and strength if we give them the chance.”

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.