Weekly Democratic Address
September 8, 2017
I’m Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham from the beautiful state of New Mexico, and I have the honor of serving as the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Yesterday, Congress passed the first emergency down payment to rebuild after the costliest hurricane in our nation’s history slammed into the Texas coastline.
I especially want to thank our first responders, dedicated civil servants and men and women in uniform who continue to sacrifice their own safety to save lives.
And I am inspired – but not surprised – by the way that Americans from across the country have responded and come to the aid of those who were impacted.
They have donated their time, their money, and sent their prayers to millions of Americans who are recovering from unimaginable devastation and loss.
Because it is in moments like these, no matter our race, age, nationality or political affiliation, we are all Americans.
We support each other in trying times, as we have done since this nation was founded. That is the strength of our great country.
And in that spirit, I want to talk with you about 800,000 aspiring Americans who, after coming to this country at a young age, have done everything right.
They stayed out of trouble, gone to school, paid their taxes, joined the military, started businesses and continued to patriotically love the United States – often the only country they have ever known.
These Americans are DREAMers. They are our neighbors, coworkers, classmates and our friends.
I recently had the honor to meet some of these young Americans and their parents.
Parents told me about their harrowing journeys fleeing violence in order to protect their children.
Father told me that if he had not left his home country, his sons would not be alive today. He worked tirelessly as a janitor at a school in Santa Fe, his wife started a cleaning business – so that their sons would have a chance for a better life and, maybe, a college education.
Their children went to American schools, made friends, went to church, worked alongside their families to contribute to the entire family and lived their lives as American teens until the day they discovered that they were undocumented.
They started to realize that although they were exactly like their peers in almost every way, they were superficially different. They had to live in the shadows.
But they also told me how their lives were transformed after DACA was enacted.
If they came forward, passed a background check, paid a fee, then DACA promised them a temporary two-year permit to work, attend school and live free from the fear of deportation.
For five years, DACA has unlocked the great potential of 800,000 DREAMers.
These young patriots made the most of their opportunity to pursue the American Dream, and in turn, they have provided tremendous social and economic gains for communities across this nation.
In my mind, DREAMers make our country better. They define the American Dream – they help define who we are as Americans.
Unfortunately, President Trump cowardly eliminated protections for these hopeful Americans.
He has once again trapped them in a broken, heartless system and terrified the young DREAMers I met last week.
Can you imagine the fear, uncertainty and anxiety that this is causing nearly a million young Americans as they wait for the end of a six-month deadline – at the end of which they face the very real threat of deportation?
This is the civil rights test of our time. Are we going to turn our backs on DREAMers? Are we going to allow President Trump to use them as pawns in his cruel efforts to divide America?
We cannot turn their American Dream into a fantasy, because a threat to the promise of America for some is a threat to all of us.
That’s why I, along with my Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, and millions of Americans urge Congressional Republicans to do the right thing and bring the DREAM Act to a vote without delay.
To DREAMers, I have this to say to you: “We see you. We know you. We believe in you. You represent the best of this country. Keep fighting. Democrats are right there with you, side by side, supporting each other the entire way.”
Today, let us make it clear that this is not just an immigrant issue, or a Democratic or a Republican issue. This is a human issue, an American issue.
And I have faith that we will band together, support each other during trying times and we will correct this wrong – just as we have always done.