Durbin Calls On Republicans To Join Democrats In Passing Immigration Reform Legislation

Durbin: Let’s work together to protect Dreamers from deportation and fix our broken immigration system

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and lead author of the Dream Act, spoke on the Senate floor today about the urgency of passing immigration reform to protect Dreamers from deportation and fix our broken immigration system.  The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed hundreds of thousands of Dreamers to thrive in the United States.  They are protected from deportation for now, but due to lawsuits by extreme MAGA Republicans, their fate is in the hands of a Republican-appointed judge who has repeatedly found DACA and other programs like it unlawful. 

“If we do nothing to help those who are protected by DACA, if we do nothing to help the Dreamers, court decisions may pre-empt us and may force some of these people to face the reality that they can no longer legally work in America and they are subject to deportation,” Durbin said.  “I think of these Dreamers because I’ve come to this floor so many times—five different times I have called the Dream Actfor passage.  Five different times I got a majority vote on the floor.  But in the Senate, as most people know, it takes 60 out of 100.  And I couldn’t get the 60-vote margin, five different times.”

Durbin also shared the story of Jose Flores Valor.  His story is the 132nd Dreamer story Durbin has told on the Senate floor.  Jose arrived in this country from Mexico when he was only 11 months old, and he grew up in DeKalb, Illinois.

From a young age, Jose served as the interpreter for his family’s medical appointments. It was through these experiences—watching doctors care for and provide support to his family—that Jose’s passion for health care bloomed.  In high school, he enrolled in a certified nursing assistant course—and his goal was to, eventually, practice medicine.

It was not until he was 16, when his classmates were getting driver’s licenses and making decisions about college, that Jose realized what it meant to be undocumented.  Even though he was accepted to the University of Illinois at Chicago, his legal status meant he did not qualify for any scholarships, and he could not afford to stay beyond his first semester.  But Jose didn’t let these obstacles stand in his way.  He sought other avenues for pursuing a career in health care, and recently earned an Associate of Science degree from Kishwaukee College in Malta, Illinois. 

“When the pandemic hit, Jose was deployed across the country to meet urgent health care needs.  His work took him far from home, which meant he was unable to be by his grandfather’s side when his grandfather passed away from COVID.  It was one of the many sacrifices Jose made to pursue his passion for serving our nation,” Durbin said.  “Today, Jose has earned a full scholarship at Loyola University in Chicago to complete his pre-medical studies on the way to a Bachelor’s degree…  He wants to attend medical school and begin his journey towards becoming a doctor.  He plans to one day open a clinic to help the uninsured and low-income people.  He considers DACA his ‘opportunity to become a contributing member of society.’”

Durbin concluded, “We need Jose… We need people who will make this a better nation.  But we have to do our work here.  We have to deal not only with their situation, the undocumented situation, but also with border security… Let’s understand that we can make this a better, safer nation, a nation of immigrants, who make us a better place and we can have order at the border as well.  That is the only thing that gives us any chance to thrive as an American nation into the future.  I look forward to working with the Senators.  I thank them for their initiative.  And I will do all I can to help them.” 

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.

Durbin first introduced the Dream Act 21 years ago.  The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin coauthored as part of the “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans.  The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it. Last year, Durbin and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Dream Act of 2021.  

Over the years, Senate Republicans have filibustered the Dream Act at least five times.  This Congress, Durbin convened multiple bipartisan immigration negotiations that failed after Senate Republicans made unreasonable demands to cut legal immigration and limit the Dream Act to only current DACA recipients.