[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 198 (Tuesday, December 5, 2017)]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
Mr. CARPER. I want to pivot for just a moment, Mr. President, and
talk about workforce. Most people, when they think of Dreamers and
DACA, think of young people who were born in other countries and maybe
at a very early age were brought here by their parents and maybe have
no recollection of the countries they grew up in. But they have been
here now. They came here, were raised here, and were educated here,
many of them in our public schools. A number of them had the
opportunity to go to college.
Delaware State University is a historically Black university in Dover
and is the home of the Hornets. It is a wonderful land grant school
that I have been heavily invested in as Governor and even now to make
sure they rise and continue to improve. I am very proud of all of the
progress that has been made there. I was invited by their president,
Harry Williams, to come to their campus a couple of months ago. We met
with Dreamers, “DACAs,” students born in other countries who were
brought here by their parents years ago.
I have met a lot of college students in my day. I have been joined on
the floor here by Senator Durbin from Illinois. He has probably met at
least as many as I have--probably more, because he is from a bigger
I don't think I have ever been more impressed by a group of college
students in my life than the young men and women I met that day. We
literally happened to be there at 11 in the morning that day, when the
President's administration announced that the time for the Dreamers was
going to expire in 6 months, unless Congress was somehow able to put
together an agreement and pass legislation--which is hard to do without
the support of the administration.
I was there with young people that day. I will never forget what a
young man said. I think he was born in Central America--either
Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador. This was right on the heels of the
problem of recognizing these young people and celebrating their promise
and potential. Right in the middle, we got an announcement, learning
that the administration had just announced about sending these folks
home in 6 months--not really home, because their home is here, but back
to the places where they were born.
There were about five or six students, all undergrads--freshmen,
sophomores. One young man had come here maybe from Guatemala, and he
stood up and said: As a young person, I honestly don't remember ever
living in my native country. The only country I remember is this
I grew up in public schools. Every day, we would start our school day
in class, in home room, by standing, putting our hands over our hearts,
and pledging allegiance to the United States of America.
He said: This is my home. This is my country. This is the only home I
have ever really known.
He then went on to tell about his aspirations.
Those kids are smart and have parents who are engaged in their
education and have high expectations for their children. A number of
the students are working not one but two jobs to help support
themselves through school. As a Navy ROTC midshipman at Ohio State, I
worked two jobs to help pay the bills. These students are too. They are
taking courses that include math, science, and physics. They want to do
the kind of work that, frankly, a lot of people in this country--some
want to serve in the military, some want to be in public safety, some
want to be educators, some want to be scientists. They want to do all
kinds of things. This is a time when we have across the country some 4
million to 5 million jobs that are literally going unfilled today, and
people who maybe would like to do those jobs don't have the requisite
skills to do them, maybe they don't have the interest in doing the
jobs, or maybe they can't pass a drug test. But at a time when we have
3 million or 4 million jobs that are vacant, unfilled, and employers
are pleading for qualified applicants, that somehow we are going to
send 700,000 or 800,000 Dreamers back to wherever they were born makes
One of the loudest voices we have heard in this debate is that it is
not just a fairness argument for the Dreamers, in terms of turning our
backs on their aspirations and hopes, but that it is in our self-
interest as a nation, in terms of a stronger economy, to keep them
Why would we educate them here and they learn values here, and then
we ship them off to another country to compete with us, to start
businesses of their own, instead of doing that here?
I suggest that we listen to the employers of this country. We don't
always agree with everything that the U.S. Chambers of Commerce or
State Chambers of Commerce say, but in this case they are absolutely
I have a 3-minute statement that I would like to read, if I could,
from one of our Dreamers. Could I do that, I ask the Senator, our Whip,
This is about a woman living in Wilmington, DE, which is where my
wife and I live. Her name is Kay-Dean Hayden. This is a portion of a
short email she recently sent to me:
My name Kay-Dean, a community builder who happens to be a
DACA recipient. I was born in Jamaica but I have lived in the
U.S. since I was 7 or 8 years old. I grew up in Delaware and
moved to New York in 2012 and moved back [to Delaware]
recently after 5\1/2\ years [in New York].
I am approaching 30 years old on March 1st, so I've been
here [in the United States] for almost 22-23 years.
My grandmother raised myself and two of my cousins. I grew
up not really understanding my immigration status or the
implications it would have on my reality and dreams. I missed
out on opportunities, but I assumed it was due to our
financial lack. My grandmother worked hard but she couldn't
read or write so this limited her.
After unjustly gaining a juvenile record because of poor
representation and ignorance of my rights, I decided I would
become a lawyer, not fully understanding that my immigration
status would potentially bar me from obtaining that dream.
After that summer, I gained a better understanding of my
status and why I couldn't really get a summer job or travel.
In order to truly cope, I determined that if I worked hard
enough, surely I could attain all my hopes and dreams.
I told my guidance counselor what I understood about my
immigration status and heard nothing but disappointment, I
was discouraged but I remained determined. I believed God
would reward my hard-work and faithfulness. So I saw [a]
different guidance counselor my 12th grade year, in tears,
pleading for help. She looked at my records (grades, SAT
score and activities) and by the grace of God she connected
me with a family member who worked with international
students at the local community college. With God's grace I
had the privilege of attending Delaware Technical and
Community College on a full scholarship.
In 2009, I graduated with my Associates in Business
Administration [with Concentrations in] Marketing Management.
Upon graduating, God opened the door and I was accepted to
Goldey-Beacom College with scholarship assistance . . . I
completed my degrees in 2011, and graduated in 2012 with my
Bachelors in Business Administration [with Concentrations in]
After graduating from school and living and working in New York, Kay-
Dean moved back to Delaware. She wrote:
I currently work with a program that provides mentorship
opportunity for minorities and under-served youth who are
interested in working in the medical field. I have been
absolutely blessed to walk through the doors I have though
they were not the ones I originally pictured. I have had the
pleasure of helping and building up others, especially young
I thought for sure DACA would begin to allow me the chance
to finally not only build up others, but myself as well.
But with Mr. Trump as President and his ending of the DACA
Program and whispers of immigration raids, I fight to hold on
to my dreams. My DACA status ends in March and with it all I
have worked so hard to build over the last 4 years.
I wrote this long email to simply ask that you fight for
people like me. We didn't choose to be here but we are
grateful to be here.
It is here where we've grown, cried, dreamed and worked
hard for our American Dream. Here is where those we hold dear
It is my prayer that you will fight for me and others like
me. It is my prayer that you will be our voice in congress.
It is my prayer that you will humanize us to politicians who
have marginalized and demonized us. It is my prayer that you
would fight for us as if we were yours because truth be told,
Your prayer has been heard.
I just want to say to my colleague Senator Durbin of Illinois, thank
you for years of leadership on this issue to do the right thing, to
treat other people as we would want to be treated if in their shoes
and, frankly, to do the right things in terms of strengthening this
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from Delaware. He and
I came to the House of Representatives together a few years back, and
we have had the pleasure and honor of serving together in the Senate.
When he is on my team, I feel much stronger because I know Tom Carper
is a person of values, principles, and hard work, and he really takes
this job seriously. His State is lucky to have him, and I am lucky to
count him as a friend. I thank him for joining me on this important
Sixteen years ago, I introduced a bill addressing young people
brought to America by their parents who, frankly, were young, didn't
really know much about the immigration experience, grew up in the
United States thinking they were just like all the other kids in the
classroom, and then realized one day they weren't.
You see, they are not legal. Their parents didn't do it properly,
didn't file the right papers. I am not holding it against their
parents. Let me add that quickly. Their parents were doing the very
best for the family they could. They were taking risks that many of us
would take any day for a son or daughter to have a chance to live a
Here were these young people in the United States undocumented. What
were they to do? They didn't know that old country where their parents
came from. They may not even be able to speak the language of that
country, and here they were in the United States. They thought things
would work out, some way or another. Time passed, and it didn't.
We have a broken immigration system. We have a lot of gaps in the
system, and they were caught up in one of
them. Sixteen years ago, I introduced a bill, and here is what it said.
If you came to the United States as a child, if you grew up in this
country, you didn't have any serious problems with the law, and you
graduated from school, we were going to give you a chance, a chance to
earn your way into legal status. You could do it by furthering your
education, volunteering for the military. There were a lot of ways to
do it. We said to these young people: This will be your chance.
That bill was introduced a long time ago, and it has never become the
law. At one point when President Obama was in the Office of the
Presidency, I wrote him a letter with 20 of my colleagues in the Senate
and asked him to find a way, if he could, to protect these young people
from being deported out of America, and he did. They called it DACA.
The DACA Program said, if you are one of the people who, by definition
under the DREAM Act, would be eligible, you can stay in the United
States if you step up and pay about $500 in a filing fee, go through a
serious criminal background check, and then we will give you a
temporary 2-year protection from deportation--2 years that you can work
legally in the United States and come back and see us if you want to
At the end of the day, about 800,000 young people in America did
that. They paid their fee. They went through the background check, they
submitted all their information to our government, and they were
Just 3 months ago, President Donald Trump abolished DACA and said, as
of March 5 next year, it is gone. What does that mean for these young
people? It means that as of March 5 of next year, many of them will be
subject to deportation and subject to losing the jobs they have or
being unable to finish school because they can't work.
I have met a lot of those young people. I am sure Senator Hassan has
met some. I know Senator Carper has. He just read one of their stories.
They are heartbroken, and they are scared. They worry about what is
going to happen to them and their families when March 5 rolls around.
For weeks, months since President Trump's announcement, I have come
to the floor and asked: For goodness' sake, can't we agree--Democrats
and Republicans--to fix this problem? President Trump challenged us: Do
your job, Congress. Pass a law.
That is what we are supposed to do. Here we are, 3 months later, and
it hasn't been done. What I hear from the other side of the aisle is,
give us a little more time; we will try to get to it next year.
March 5, 2018, DACA is over and finished. Waiting several weeks is
bad enough. Waiting several months is unacceptable. I will tell you why
it is. We know this needs to be done now. Today, 34 Republicans in the
House of Representatives sent a letter to the Speaker of the House,
Paul Ryan, calling for Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers
this year--34 Republicans. They said: “It is imperative that
Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and
not wait until next year”--34 Republicans in the House. How many
bipartisan things go on around here anymore? Not many. Here is one. I
salute these Members of the House. I salute the four Republican
Senators who joined me in cosponsoring the Dream Act. They, I think,
have stuck their necks out, and I respect them so much for it. I will
stand up for them because of it. I thank them for that. I know why they
are doing it. They are not doing it for me. They shouldn't, and I am
sure they are not. They are doing it for these young people. I will
tell you without fail, when you meet them, they convert you in a
For the last several years, I have come to the floor to tell their
stories. I am told the one I am going to tell right now is the 99th
time I have told a story like this. Each time I tell one of these
stories, it makes the case for why we need to do something to help
these young people and do it quickly.
Let me show you this wonderful young lady here. Her name is Blanca
Morales. Blanca Morales was brought to the United States by her parents
from Mexico when she was 5 years old. She grew up in Santa Ana, CA.
Growing up, she took care of her two younger siblings while her parents
worked in factories and in the agriculture fields of California.
She was quite a student. In high school, she was named one of the top
100 students in the county. She was active in community service,
mentoring students who couldn't complete high school without help. She
attended a community college, Santa Ana College. I might add, because
she is undocumented, she didn't qualify for any Federal Government
assistance. Going to college in that circumstance means working,
scraping by, putting things off, sacrificing to get through. She did
it. She majored in chemistry and biology. She was part of Phi Beta
Kappa, an international honors society. She won first academic team in
the All-USA Academic Competition. She was her class's valedictorian,
with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Blanca, after graduation, attended the University of California,
Irvine. She majored in neurobiology. At UC Irvine, she graduated with
honors magna cum laude. After obtaining this premed degree, she
couldn't land a job in the medical field because she is undocumented in
Then, in 2012, everything changed. President Obama established the
DACA Program I mentioned earlier, which allowed Blanca, for the first
time in her life, to get a permit to legally work in America. Last
year, Blanca Morales was accepted to the Harvard School of Medicine.
She has remained involved in community service, mentoring students,
teaching health classes at a community health center, and volunteering
as a translator at clinics for Spanish-speaking patients.
Close to 70 Dreamers are enrolled in medical schools around the
country just like she is. Without DACA, these Dreamers will never
become doctors. Why? They are going to be deported back to their
countries if they are not lucky. If they happen to be able to stay,
they cannot legally work in America without DACA status. You cannot
finish medical school and go on to a residency without a work permit,
without being able to legally work in America. They cannot legally work
without DACA protection, and President Trump has ended it.
Are we going to be a stronger nation if we deport her, tell her to
leave, go back to Mexico, which she left when she was 5 years of age,
give up on all the education she has put on the board--at the community
college where she was leading her class, on to get her degrees, on to
be accepted to Harvard Medical School. The answer is clear. America
would be less if she left.
The Association of American Medical Colleges reports the Nation faces
a doctor shortage, which is only going to get worse. Both the AMA and
the Association of American Medical Colleges have warned that ending
DACA will make this problem worse. They have urged Congress to do
Blanca wrote me a letter, and here is what she said.
It took me eight years from graduating from the university
to enter medical school. Without DACA or better yet, a formal
way to become a full member of society, I am left to live in
the shadows. I don't know if I will be able to finish my
medical training without a permanent solution to my
immigration status. Please help me keep my dream of becoming
a physician alive.
When my colleagues come to the floor and say we are just too busy
here to take up this issue, I wish they would have a chance to meet
this spectacular young woman. I wish they would consider what she is
asking us to do. She is asking us to do our job. We are supposed to
When you read the numbers, 70, 80 percent of Americans approve of the
Dream Act, even an overwhelming majority of those who voted for
President Trump believe these young people deserve a chance to be legal
in America. Why can't we get our job done? We need to do it and do it
now. We have 3 weeks before we are likely to end the session this year.
I want to see us get this finished this year. I want to see a
I came to the floor earlier and listened to the speeches of many of
my colleagues--one from North Carolina and another from Oklahoma, one
from the State of Texas and another from the State of Arkansas--and
each one of them said there are lots of things we need to do to fix our
immigration system. I couldn't agree more.
I was on the task force--the Gang of 8 they called it--that came up
with a comprehensive immigration reform. It
took us months to do it, but we did it. We did everything we could
think of within the four corners of immigration reform. We passed it on
the floor of the Senate with a strong bipartisan rollcall, and the
House of Representatives refused to even consider it. That doesn't mean
the problems have gone away. They are still here. What I am saying to
my colleagues is, don't try to fix every immigration problem you can
think of on the backs of these Dreamers like Blanca Morales. I am
willing to talk to you honestly, forthrightly about border security.
Count me in. I voted for it as part of comprehensive immigration
reform, but every notion, every idea, every theory you have about
immigration shouldn't be placed on the shoulders and backs of these
Let's fix this, and then let's go on to the next phase of dealing
with immigration reform in its totality. That makes sense to me. I am
ready to bargain, work, compromise in good faith with any Member on the
Republican side and the Democratic side who wants to make sure a young
woman like this deserves a fighting chance in America. I believe that.
I think most Americans believe it too. Now let's roll up our sleeves
and go to work. There are plenty of things we can do the remainder of
this year that will make a big difference in her life and in the future
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). The Senator from California.
Ms. HARRIS. Mr. President, I would like to thank the senior Senator
from Illinois. Senator Durbin has been a longstanding leader in this
Chamber and in our country on this issue, and I can't thank him enough
for all he does so tirelessly. I see his work behind closed doors, and
I know his passion and personal commitment to this issue. I thank the
Senator from Illinois.
Mr. President, on February 16 of this year, which was 292 days ago, I
offered my maiden speech as a new Member of the U.S. Senate. The
subject of the speech was immigration--in particular, an emphasis on
DACA and the Dreamers. Here we are 292 days later, and we have failed
to move forward in any substantial or substantive way in bringing
relief to these Dreamers who have qualified for DACA status. So we
stand here, these 292 days later, talking about an issue that we must
ultimately, and before the end of this year, resolve.
Let's also be clear that 3 months ago today, on September 5 of this
year, the administration arbitrarily, recklessly, and cruelly ended
DACA--the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. DACA allowed
young immigrants who were brought here by their parents to live and
work in this country without fear that they would be deported. Later
this week, on Friday, December 8, funding for the government runs out.
I have been clear, along with my friend from Illinois and several other
colleagues, that any bill that funds the government must also include a
fix for DACA.
I want to talk with you about why I believe it is important that we
resolve this issue. I do believe there is a lot of misinformation out
there. I think it is important that we as policymakers, as leaders in
our country, craft and create public policy based on facts, not on
misinformation and certainly not fear.
Let's begin by being very clear. The decision to rescind DACA is part
of a much broader and troubling attempt to remake the demographics of
the country by cracking down on immigrants. We have an administration
that has ignited anti-immigrant sentiment, characterizing immigrants as
rapists and murderers and people who are going to steal your jobs. We
have an administration that has implemented an aggressive anti-
immigrant agenda. This administration has called for a border wall that
could cost up to $70 billion. They have implemented Muslim bans which
severely restrict immigration from six Muslim-majority countries. They
have requested 10,000 new ICE agents and 5,000 new Border Patrol agents
when they have not given the resources to be able to fill all the
vacant positions they now have. They have ended the protected
immigration status, known as TPS, for Haitians and Nicaraguans who fled
disasters and may crack down on the protective status on Salvadorans as
well. They are seeking to lower the refugee cap from 110,000 to 45,000
at a time when we have seen an increase in the worldwide number of
refugees who are in crisis. This is the lowest number ever in the
history of this country--actually, since 1980. Gen. John Kelly, the
President's Chief of Staff and former Homeland Security Secretary, said
that he wishes the number of refugees we would admit into our country
were between zero and one.
I want to be clear. I have an incredible amount of respect for the
men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who each day
leave their homes, committed to doing the work of keeping our homeland
secure. It is noble and important work, and their mission is critical.
I believe the vast majority of those frontline agents are doing their
jobs honorably and effectively, but it is troubling when the White
House has encouraged frontline agents to “take the shackles off.” In
fact, the Acting ICE Director has said:
If you're an immigrant in this country illegally . . . you
should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder.
When you look at these independent acts, there is a clear
constellation that has formed. This enforcement surge is a barely
disguised purge. This is not leadership. Leaders should not be in the
business of inciting fear and sowing hate and division. Instead,
leaders should be about creating smart public policy based on facts. So
here are some of the facts.
It is a fact that there are 700,000 DACA recipients, 200,000 of whom
are in California alone.
It is a fact that the Dreamers have been extensively vetted before
they have qualified for DACA. They have gone through a process. They
have turned over copious amounts of paperwork with incredible detail.
They have gone through background checks. They have given personal
information about the circumstances of their arrivals. They have
answered questions that seek to figure out whether they have committed
crimes. If they applied and they received DACA status, we determined
that they were not threats in that regard to our public safety. We
asked questions that sought to figure out if they have graduated high
school. Are they living lawful and productive lives? It is only when
they cleared that extensive vetting that they qualified for DACA status
and received DACA status.
Let's be clear. These Dreamers who receive DACA status study in our
colleges, serve in our military, and work in Fortune 100 companies.
They are contributing to our economy in a way that we all are
benefiting. If DACA recipients were to be deported, it is estimated
that California would lose $11 billion a year. The U.S. economy as a
whole would lose an estimated $460 billion over a decade.
It is also a fact that these young people have stood in classrooms
and stood in line in many places and have placed their hands over their
hearts, pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States--a flag
that many of us wear on our lapels, a flag that represents the best of
what we are in terms of the ideals upon which we were founded. We must
be true to those ideals and consistent in the way that we approach so
many issues as applied to this issue about what we do with these DACA
kids. We must keep our word and our promise to them and guarantee what
we promised, which is that we would not share their personal
information with ICE and that they would not be deported if they
continued to follow the rules.
In my experience, it is also true that many who have opinions or who
have expressed opinions or who have the opportunity to make decisions
about this issue have never met a Dreamer. We cannot fault them, but
what we can ask is that those who have the power to make a decision on
this issue make it their business and make an effort to really
understand who we are talking about. Senator Durbin talked about it,
and Senator Carper talked about it. My colleagues will be talking about
who these Dreamers are, who these young people are.
I have to say that I have been a bit troubled when I have had this
conversation. I remember when I had a conversation many months ago with
the then-nominee to head up the Department of Homeland Security, Gen.
John Kelly. I asked him if he had ever
met a Dreamer, and he said that he had not. When I asked him if I could
arrange a meeting, he then went on to say: How about if I could take a
meeting, instead, with their representatives? That is disheartening.
Before our colleagues make a decision about where they stand on this
policy, I believe that it is only fair--it is only the right thing to
do--that they make an effort to sit down and talk with Dreamers and get
to understand who they are, the circumstances of their arrivals, and
how they are contributing to our country.
There are going to be hundreds of Dreamers here tomorrow on Capitol
Hill. I want to thank them for their leadership and their tireless
advocacy because their stories will change hearts and minds. Let me
just speak of a few. My colleagues have shared some; I will share some
I met Yuriana Aguilar, whom I took to the President's joint session
address this February. Her parents brought her here from Mexico when
she was just 5 years old. She grew up in Fresno, CA. She attended
public schools, and she attended UC Merced. She was the first DACA
recipient to earn a Ph.D. and now is a biomedical researcher in Chicago
who is focused on the human heart. She is doing everything that she can
to improve the condition and the lives of the people in our country
because of the work she has done and the research she has done.
I met Eric Yang, who came from South Korea. He grew up in Irvine, CA,
and is now studying business economics at UC Irvine, where he works to
help other students.
My husband and I recently attended a play in Los Angeles. It is a
great program at which there is free entertainment in the community
park, and families show up and have a wonderful evening outdoors with
each other in fellowship. I met a young woman who came up to me. She
was with a group of friends.
Her friends said: Tell her. Tell her.
I looked at this young woman. She looked as if she was about maybe 19
I said: Tell me what? Tell me what is going on.
She looked at me, and she spoke so quietly that I didn't hear what
she had said, so I asked her to repeat herself. She looked at me, and
she started crying.
She said: I am DACA.
She was trembling as she cried, absolutely in fear of what her future
I suggest that before we take a position on this issue, we take a
moment, each one of us as colleagues and each one of us as individuals,
to see these young people, to truly see them--to see them not through a
lens that is about partisanship or politics, not through a lens that is
ideological, but based on who they really are and the practical
realities of the lives they lived that brought them to this country,
the circumstances that brought them to this country, and the lives they
are living every day now.
These are incredible young people who are doing everything that we
hope and pray will epitomize the American dream--work hard, be
respectful, play by the rules, contribute to your community, have
dreams and aspirations about how you can be productive. That is who
these young people are.
Let's reject the fearmongering. Let's also understand that this is an
imminent issue and that this is something we must address immediately.
Let's agree that each day in the lives of these young people is a very
long time. Each day that they go to sleep at night and are worried
about a knock on the door at midnight that might tear them away from
their families is a very long time. Let's not wait. Let's not wait to
Let's reject those folks who say that there is no crisis, the folks
who say that this is not an emergency. Let's understand that for these
700,000 Dreamers who cannot concentrate at school or at work and who
are terrified of that midnight knock, this is an emergency. Let's think
about the classmates and the coworkers and our neighbors and family
members who have these children who are terrified that this protected
status will be stripped and taken away. For them, this is an emergency.
Let's think about the 122 Dreamers who are losing their DACA status
every single day, 851 of them every week, over 11,000 of them since
September. Let's agree that this is a crisis, that this is an
emergency. It has been 91 days since this administration ended DACA,
and we cannot wait a single day longer.
Let's reject the fearmongering. Let's find a bipartisan consensus to
act in the way that we know we should and can. Let's put the Dream Act
to a vote today. I believe it could pass and would pass if everyone
looked in their hearts and looked at the facts.
Today, 35 House Republicans signed a letter, writing that they want a
DACA fix before the end of the year. It included Members from
California and Texas and Florida and Utah and Pennsylvania and New
York. Earlier today, my colleague, the junior Senator from Arizona,
We don't need to make a statement. We need to make a law.
I could not agree more. Let's give these Dreamers a future.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. MARKEY. Mr. President, I thank the Presiding Officer for
I thank the Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, for organizing all of
us this afternoon to speak on behalf of these Dreamers. His leadership
has been critical in this fight for the dignity and recognition of
hundreds of thousands of wonderful young people who know no other home
than the United States of America.
For 5 years, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals--or DACA--
Program, has created security and opportunity for young immigrants
around the country, but now the futures of some 800,000 young people--
7,900 of them in Massachusetts--are needlessly in jeopardy because
President Trump has coldheartedly repealed DACA.
DACA has been a hugely successful program. It has provided so many
young immigrants safety, security, dignity, respect, and opportunity.
These are young people who study, who work, who live next-door to us
every single day. They are our friends, our neighbors, and our loved
I would like to speak for a few minutes about one of these DACA
beneficiaries. She is 28-year-old Paola Sanchez, who came to the United
States from Bolivia when she was 14 years old. Paola's father passed
away when she was just 8 years old. Her mother was in a wheelchair and
was unable to work. With her family facing hardship, Paola came to
America to live with an aunt and uncle in New York. There, Paola worked
in the manufacturing industry while she attended high school full time.
She often got home late at night and grabbed a few hours of sleep
before getting up to head to school to do it all over again.
In 2007, Paola graduated from high school and moved to my State of
Massachusetts, where she has lived ever since. She now works 30 hours a
week as a case manager while attending Bay State Community College full
time. She has been a model student, earning a 3.9 grade point average,
and she hopes to enter nursing school in January.
Paola has been a DACA recipient since 2013, but her current status
expires next year. This means that unless Congress acts and saves the
program, Paola and thousands like her will have to leave the United
States for countries they do not really know and no longer consider to
Paola's case, like many others, is even more difficult because she
has a 4-year-old son--a child who is an American citizen by birth and
has never known any other home than the United States.
All Paola wants is to stay here with her son, get her nursing degree,
get a good job, and give back to the country so much more than she has
been given. Instead, Paola and countless other young people and
families across the United States face uncertain futures. Instead of
going to sleep tonight knowing they will be able to live their lives in
peace and plan for the future, they are left with uncertainty,
vulnerable to deportation, and unable to work legally. This is a human
tragedy in the making. It is heartbreaking, it is unjust, and it is
just plain wrong. We should not punish these young people who have no
other home than the United States of America. We should not go back on
the word we gave when
we told these young people to come out of the shadows.
These Dreamers are engineers, police officers, teachers, future
nurses, and students, many in our great Massachusetts colleges and
universities. They serve bravely in our military. They are our best and
brightest and are making the most of the opportunities that the United
States has always provided to immigrant communities.
The ball is in the court of the Republican leadership in the House
and Senate. Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Mitch McConnell can listen to
a growing chorus of their own colleagues and to business CEOs,
including those at Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, General Motors,
and to academic leaders, countless college and university presidents,
all of whom support DACA--or they can side with the forces of
intolerance and injustice.
Congress should pass the Dream Act so that people, like Paola, who
were brought here at a young age and who have served in the military or
pursued higher education can earn citizenship.
I urge everyone to listen to Dick Durbin, to listen to this chorus of
voices from around our country. Protect these 800,000 young people.
Protect them because they deserve it, and America will be the
beneficiary of these great Americans who are serving our country right
I thank the Presiding Officer.
I yield back the remainder of my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
Ms. HASSAN. Thank you very much, Mr. President, and I thank my
colleague from Massachusetts for his eloquent words just now. I also
thank Senator Durbin for his leadership on this critically important
As many of my colleagues have stated, we must protect Dreamers and
allow them to continue to be vital members of communities in New
Hampshire and across the Nation. The energy, hard work, and innovation
of Dreamers are critical components of our economic future. These are
hard-working young people who have so much to offer and who deserve our
support and our urgent action.
They are people like a young man from the Seacoast area of New
Hampshire, who recently met with my staff. This young person was
brought to the United States when he was in elementary school. His
parents emigrated from Indonesia, joining members of the New Hampshire
community who had left their country because they were fleeing
religious persecution. For years, members of this community have
worked, paid taxes, and raised their families on the Seacoast. Now the
Trump administration is engaging in misguided efforts to prioritize
their deportation--efforts that I urge this administration to stop
The Dreamer I am talking about this afternoon had never known that he
was undocumented until he wanted to get his driver's license. But he
said his life was changed after President Obama unveiled the DACA
Program. This young man was able to get a job, attend community
college, and eventually enroll at the University of New Hampshire,
where he is working toward his degree. His story makes clear why there
is so much at stake and why it is critical that our colleagues work
together in order to support these young people.
Granite Staters, like all Americans, recognize the value of hard
work, the importance of unleashing the talent and energy of each and
every individual, and they demand and expect that their elected leaders
act with fairness and with common sense, which is all that the Dream
We must pass the bipartisan Dream Act now and protect those who have
so much to offer to the future of our great country.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
Ms. WARREN. Thank you, Mr. President.
I have been sitting on the floor for a while, listening to other
Senators tell amazing stories about young people who came to this
country as children and how they have thrived, how they have become
woven into a part of the American fabric. These are stories of courage,
stories of hope, and it is inspiring to listen to these stories.
Tonight I want to add another piece to this story, and that is about
why law matters--why it matters that we have a Dream Act. This photo
portrays Reina Guevara. She is a Massachusetts resident. She is a
student now at UMass Boston. When Reina was 11 years old, she fled from
El Salvador and settled with her mother in Everett, MA.
Reina is a model student. After completing high school and graduating
with high honors from Bunker Hill Community College, she won a
scholarship and transferred to UMass Boston, where she currently has a
double major in philosophy and in public policy.
Until DACA came along, Reina had to live in the shadows, and living
in the shadows wasn't easy. She worked long hours in a restaurant where
she was subjected to sexual harassment. Knowing that she didn't have
legal status, Reina's boss frequently propositioned her to have a
sexual relationship with him and threatened to report her to
immigration authorities if she didn't go along with what he wanted. So
instead of giving in to her boss's advances, Reina quit her job, even
though her boss refused to pay her for the work that she had already
DACA changed the world for Reina. It meant protection. It meant that
she could go to work without the fear of being sent back to a country
that she barely knew. It meant that she had access to more jobs, where
she wouldn't have to face exploitation, humiliation, and sexual
harassment. It meant that Reina could pay instate tuition and become
the first person in her family to complete college, opening up even
more doors of opportunity.
Right now we are in the middle of a long overdue discussion about
sexual harassment and sexual assault. Women are bravely coming forward
to tell their stories about powerful men who have abused their power to
hurt others. Sexual assault isn't just happening in Silicon Valley or
in Hollywood or in legislative chambers. It happens all across America
at hotels, fast food restaurants, and convenience stores. If you are a
woman without official status, you have yet another barrier to speaking
When the DACA Program started, we made a promise to young people like
Reina. We promised them that if they came out of the shadows, they
would have an opportunity to live and to work and to go to school
without the fear of deportation. We promised to protect them. Donald
Trump broke that promise when he ended DACA.
But there is something that Congress can do to help Reina and people
like her, young kids who have spent their lives reaching for their
dreams. We can pass a clean Dream Act, a bipartisan bill that would
give young people like Reina status and a path to citizenship, a bill
that protects those young people without subjecting their parents or
their siblings to deportation. We could do that, but time is running
Soon DACA recipients will begin losing their status and will be
subjected to deportation. We can stop that from happening, but we have
to act soon. I am ready to vote and many of my colleagues on both sides
of the aisle are ready to vote. So I have one question for Mitch
McConnell: What is stopping you?
We are ready to pass this bill. Just get it done.
I yield the floor.
Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. MERKLEY. Mr. President, I am rising to engage in the conversation
about getting the Dream Act passed. I thank my good friend and
colleague from Illinois, Senator Durbin, for his passion and for his
unrelenting commitment to protecting our American Dreamers. He has been
on this floor day after day, month after month, advocating that we have
to address this situation in which individuals came to the United
States as small children; they have grown up here, they speak English,
and they have been totally immersed in making our community stronger,
our States stronger, our Nation stronger. We need to make sure
that we treat them fairly, with respect, and that we ensure that we are
able to benefit from their presence here, just as they benefit from
being here in the United States. There are 800,000 Dreamers across our
country. I know they all very much appreciate his leadership.
The young men and women who came out of the shadows to be part of the
DACA Program--Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals--were made a
promise that they would be all right if they did so; that their
information would not be used then to deport them. So they took a
gamble that the United States would stand by the commitment it was
making to them, and now they are wondering what happened because their
futures are dangling by a thread. The program has been abandoned by the
President, and if it is not replaced by legislation done right here in
this room, they basically will be subject to being deported to places
where they don't speak the language, they don't understand the
culture--they are unfamiliar with it--and they don't have any network.
They are really kind of stateless individuals who are in a very tough
One person like this from Salem, OR, is Diana Banda Palacios. In
1993, Diana, who is shown here in this picture I have in the Chamber,
came to this country from Mexico as a 3-year-old toddler. She has lived
her entire life since then, here in America.
Growing up in America, Diana dreamed of becoming a first responder,
so much so that during her high school years, she volunteered for Red
Cross and for her community emergency response team, but that dream was
thrown into doubt during her senior year when she was diagnosed with
thyroid cancer. She has fought that cancer, and she has beat that
cancer. She graduated from high school more determined than ever to
pursue her vision of how she could contribute to the community, and she
has contributed. She enrolled and put herself through the firefighting
and paramedic program at her local community college, and now she has
made a career for herself as an emergency medical technician, an EMT.
Every day, she is working literally to save lives, and we are
threatening to kick her out of the country--the only country she has
Diana said a few years back when the DACA Program was first being
America is my home. This is the place I love, where
everyone and everything I know is. I know nothing outside the
United States. Whatever punishment I must pay I am willing to
do. All I ask is for a chance. Better yet I beg for a chance
to prove that I am not a criminal, that I have much to offer
this beautiful place.
That is, in her words, her vision, her desire to be able to fully
participate in our society.
Just recently, over Thanksgiving, I led a delegation to Burma. Burma
has had horrific circumstances occur because they have a population of
Muslims called the Rohingya, and the Rohingya have been in Burma for
generations. Many of them came 200 years ago, and they came because
they were imported for labor. They have farmed the rice paddies, they
have fished in their boats off the coast, but they have never really
been accepted by Burma. Burma recognized in their 1982 law 135
minorities, but they didn't recognize the Rohingya because the adjacent
Rakhine minority is in kind of a hostile relationship with them. They
have always been treated as second-class citizens, so much so that in
the middle of Rakhine State, there are about 120,000 people living in
camps. They are not allowed to leave the camps. They are not allowed to
fully participate in society. They are not given citizenship rights. In
northern Rakhine State, in that area, the military went in and burned
some 300 villages, engaged in systematic rape, proceeded to shoot
people as they fled their villages, and now 600,000 people have gone
The reason I raise this is not a parallel situation, but there is, at
its core, a similar issue, and that issue is whether a nation thrives
by entertaining the situation of having a stateless population. Burma
had a stateless population that it did not recognize, did not allow to
be fully engaged. They weren't even second-class citizens because they
weren't allowed citizenship.
Well, we have now a tremendous population of young folks who have
grown up in America. They are culturally American. Many of them had no
idea they were born abroad, and they are ready to be full participants
if we will let them. Won't we be so much better off to enable them to
rise to their full potential, to make their full contribution, to have
a full measure of participation in our society?
We have Diana's story, but multiply that times 800,000 people. What a
fantastic reservoir of talent, ability, energy, and passion waiting to
be fully contributed to being part of the United States of America.
While we delay, these 800,000 young members of our communities are in
limbo. They are waiting for us to act. They know they took a gamble by
joining the DACA Program, and they now know the Federal Government has
all of their information to track them down and deport them. Wouldn't
that violate completely the spirit under which we established the DACA
Program to begin with? Let's get this DREAM Act done.
Earlier today, I was here on the floor, listening to a conversation
from some of my colleagues, and they were saying: Well, let's get it
done by March. I would say to my colleagues across the aisle: Let's not
wait until March. Let's not wait until February. Let's not wait until
January. Let's engage in this conversation now. Let's get it done by
the end of the year. These young folks have waited a long time. They
have waited too long. So let's address it, and let's maintain in our
hearts the spirit that has animated our Nation.
All of us, unless we are 100 percent Native Americans, either came
from foreign lands or our parents or our parents' parents, our
forefathers and foremothers came from other lands. We know what that is
like. It was difficult many times, but our families found their place.
Let's enable these young folks, these Dreamers to find their place. It
will be far better for them and far, far better for us.