Weekly Democratic Address
September 15, 2017
Last week, we heard the bad news that the Trump Administration plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA.
DACA provides temporary legal status to immigrant students if they register with the government, pay a fee, pass criminal and national security background checks.
The young people protected by DACA are also known as DREAMers. They came to the United States as children. They grew up singing the Star-Spangled Banner and pledging allegiance to the American flag.
It was seven years ago the Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana and I sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to establish this program. The President responded to our request, and DACA has been a huge success. Almost 800,000 DREAMers have come forward and received DACA protection. That’s allowed them to contribute more fully to the country as teachers, nurses, engineers, first responders and members of our military.
But today, across the nation, thousands of DREAMers and their families and friends are afraid. Because of this Administration’s decision to end DACA, almost 800,000 young people who were brought to the US as children will lose their ability to work and be subject to deportation. Ending DACA will set in motion rolling mass deportations over the course of the next two years.
Don’t believe the spin – repealing DACA was never about “putting America first” or “protecting American workers”. DREAMers grew up in this country and are American in every way except their legal immigration status. They’re job creators, not job stealers. A study by the Center for American Progress finds that ending DACA would cost the United States at least $433 billion in gross domestic product over the next decade.
The President says it’s up to Congress to fix it. He gave us six months. Congress now has an urgent and closing window to right this wrong and prevent this catastrophe for so many young people, and their families, and for their communities and our country. The deportation clock is ticking.
It was 16 years ago that I first introduced the DREAM Act. This bipartisan legislation would give a path to citizenship to DREAMers.
In July, I introduced the most recent version of it with my friend Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina. This bipartisan bill has also been introduced in the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, President Trump agreed to begin negotiations to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act.
We’re calling on the Republican leaders of the Senate and the House – Senator Mitch McConnell, Speaker Paul Ryan – to bring it to the floor. If they do, I am confident the DREAM Act will pass both chambers of Congress with a strong bipartisan vote, and then President Trump can decide whether to make it the law of the land with his signature.
When we introduced the DREAM Act in the Senate, Lindsey Graham said the moment of reckoning is coming.
Well, that moment has arrived.
The American people are calling for us to do the right thing. Seventy-five percent of Americans, 70 percent of Republicans want the DREAMers to stay in this country they call home.
It’s time to stand up. It’s time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
Those members of Congress on the wrong side of history will bear responsibility for forcing hundreds of thousands of talented young immigrants out of our workforce and putting them at risk of immediate deportation.
As for this Senator, I’ll do everything in my power to protect these DREAMers and give them the chance to become citizens so they can contribute to a brighter future for America.
My final message is for all the DREAMers out there who were in despair and worried: Do not lose faith. Keep going to work. Keep working for your families, your communities, and your country.
You are not alone. I won’t stop fighting for you, and together, with my colleagues in Congress and our fellow Americans, we will ensure that you are here to stay.