Ahead of House Vote on Immigration Legislation, Durbin Calls on the Senate to Act

Durbin: over the last 20 years, the filibuster has blocked passage of the Dream Act five times

WASHINGTON – Ahead of the House of Representatives vote on the American Dream and Promise Act, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of the Dream Act, today called on the Senate to take up the legislation after the House passes it.  TheAmerican Dream and Promise Act would establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).  Durbin also spoke in strong support of comprehensive immigration reform.

“I want to add that I support comprehensive immigration reform.  I believe it is the only honest answer to what we face in America today,” Durbin said.  “This broken immigration system needs to be addressed on a bipartisan basis.” 

To highlight the importance of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the need to enact theDream Act, Durbin shared the story of Diana Andino, the 129th Dreamer whose story Durbin has told on the Senate floor.  Today, Diana is a third-year resident physician in neurology at Loyola University Medical Center.  She treats COVID-19 patients with serious complications, such as strokes or major bleeding.  

“How many times have we said thank God for people like this woman [Diana] who risks her life as a doctor for COVID-19 patients?  Our brothers and sisters, our family members, people that we love are kept alive because Diana is skilled enough and brave enough to go into their rooms and try to save their lives,” Durbin said.  “We think so much of Diana that we have to debate in the Senate whether or not she should be a citizen of the United States?  There’s no debate as far as I’m concerned.  She is exactly the kind of person we need in America’s future.”

Durbin also noted that over the last 20 years, the 60-vote requirement has blocked passage of the Dream Act – as an amendment or a stand-alone bill – five times: twice in 2007, once in 2010, and twice in 2018.  In each instance, the Dream Act received a bipartisan majority vote, but was blocked by a minority of Senators.  Their opposition prevented the Senate from even debating the legislation.  It was repeated rejections of the Dream Act by a minority of Senators that finally moved President Obama to establish DACA in 2012.

“I haven’t made it [Dream Act] a law of the land because of one thing, the filibuster.  Five times I brought this measure to the floor of the United States Senate and been stopped by the filibuster.  A majority vote every time, but never the magic 60 – the magic supermajority,” Durbin said.  “So do I have a problem with the filibuster?  Yes, I do.  And I challenge those who are defending it to show me it can work, to show me we can create bipartisan votes on the floor, actual debates on the floor, amendments on the floor.  I think that’s not too much to ask.  I think that’s why we were elected.”  

Durbin concluded, “Make the Dream Act a reality.  Make it a law of the land.  Don’t let a filibuster stop it again.  When we receive the Dream and Promise Act from the House of Representatives, we will have an opportunity to see if ten Republican Senators can join us in an effort to finally pass it.  I hope more… [Let’s] pass the Dream Act and more, and do it soon.  Lives depends on it.   Futures depend on it.  The Dreamers of America are at stake.”

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.

About Diana Andino

Diana was born in Ecuador and came to the United States when she was only 11 years old.  She grew up in Houston, Texas. 

Diana was an excellent student.  She graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of Houston in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry. 

Thanks to DACA, Diana was able to attend and graduate from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago and is now a third-year resident physician in neurology at Loyola University Medical Center.  Diana treats COVID-19 patients with serious complications, such as a stroke or major bleeding.