Durbin Continues to Call Out Governor Abbott's Political Stunts & Exploitation of Migrant Families

Durbin: The most powerful way to stand up to dictators like Venezuela’s Maduro is by honoring America’s legacy as a beacon of freedom, not unwittingly busing families seeking refuge to faraway cities

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, blasted Texas Governor Greg Abbott for exploiting a humanitarian crisis in an attempt to score political points by busing migrants from Texas to Chicago—most of whom have traveled from Venezuela to the U.S.-Mexico border. Durbin noted that the families fleeing Venezuela are seeking refuge from the same menace that the victims of communism faced decades ago: political persecution and state-sanctioned violence. 

“Venezuela is awash in human misery. It is so dangerous that the State Department warns Americans to avoid traveling to that country. And the people of Venezuela suffer every day under rampant corruption, human rights violations, hunger, and criminal mismanagement. I saw it for myself when I visited Venezuela just a few years ago just before Maduro’s latest sham election,” Durbin said.  “These horrors have driven nearly seven million Venezuelans to leave that country in desperation and fear… So despite what some Republicans have claimed, the families fleeing Venezuela are not ‘illegals’ or ‘invaders,’ they’re victims of the same ruthless tactics that once defined the Soviet Union.” 

During his speech, Durbin reflected on his recent visit to the Salvation Army Freedom Center in the Humboldt Park neighborhood in Chicago to meet with migrant families who were forced to come to Chicago from Texas by Governor Abbott. During his visit, Durbin met a man named Carlos, who came to the United States with his wife and two young daughters from Venezuela. The family traveled to reach the Texas-Mexico border by foot. The journey took four months, and they were faced with violence, theft, and exploitation. Carlos’s family is one of the more than 1,500 migrant families whom Governor Abbott has put on a bus to Chicago in recent weeks.

“[Governor Abbott] has chosen to exploit their fear and confusion. I met with a few of the families who were unwittingly placed on migrant buses to Chicago by Governor Abbott of Texas a few weeks ago. One of those I met was Carlos. He and his wife and two little girls were sitting at a table and we were able to talk to them and ask questions,” Durbin said. “To me, Carlos is living proof that we have more work to do in ridding the world of violent oppression and totalitariansm.”

Durbin continued, “It is one thing to speak out against the evils of communism or voice opposition to Maduro, but talk is cheap. The real test for our values begins when the victims of tyrants like Maduro arrive at our doorstep in search of freedom… [Governor Abbott] has wasted taxpayer dollars on a political stunt that only made the problem worse and made us as a nation look weak, to some of the world look cruel… The most powerful way to stand up to dictators like Maduro is by honoring America’s legacy as a beacon of freedom. That means coming to the aid of families like Carlos’, families that are applying for asylum the right way and seeking a fair shot in America like our own families once did. In fact, we need workers. We have 11 million unfilled jobs in this nation and five million unemployed Americans. Let’s put young, able-bodied people like Carlos to work. Let’s get them on the book and give them a fair shot so they can finally enjoy security and safety for their families that was denied to them in their home countries.” 

Durbin concluded, “Time and again, immigrants have shown us they rise to the occasion, work harder than most, and achieve things unimaginable… Let’s prove that America was and is better than the cold, iron fist of authoritarianism.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin continues to work with his colleagues to find viable options for comprehensive immigration reform. Durbin, along with seven of his Republican and Democratic colleagues worked on a comprehensive immigration reform package that would have addressed many of the challenges our nation faces at the border today.  That legislation passed the Senate with bipartisan support in 2013 but did not receive a vote in the Republican-controlled House.