Durbin Continues to press Republican Congress to pass the Dream Act Now

WASHINGTON—More than three months after the Trump Administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) again came to the Senate floor to call on Republican leaders in Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act now.  More than 12,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status at a rate of roughly 1,000 each week.  Beginning early next year, 1,000 additional young people will lose their protection from deportation each day.

During his speech, Durbin shared the story of one Dreamer – Maria Rocha, who was only three years old when her family brought her to the United States from Mexico.  After graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Maria was accepted into Teach for America.  Currently, she teaches third grade in her home town of San Antonio. Nationwide, there are 20,000 DACA recipients who are teachers.  With Teach for America alone, 190 DACA teachers and alumni are currently teaching 10,000 students across 11 states – one third of them in Texas. 

“Without DACA, Maria would not be able to work and could be deported immediately.  But when asked what would happen to her without DACA, Maria only thinks of her students.  She says: ‘how are (my students) going to take it?  What’s going to happen to them?  That’s what scares me,’” said Durbin.  “In a few weeks, Congress is going to face the reality of this DACA provision by President Trump coming into full effect.  Let’s come together and legislate, Democrats and Republicans.  Let’s solve this problem.  That’s why we were elected – not to collect a paycheck and build a pension, but to solve the problems facing America.  This one is real.  It is timely.  It is now.  For Maria Rocha, for 780,000 other young people, they’re counting on us to do something.  Let’s not come up with excuses.  Let’s come up with answers.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are 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.

Maria was an excellent student who graduated from high school 12th in her class.  She also played varsity soccer, and was recognized as the San Antonio Scholar Athlete of the Week during her junior year.  At the same time, Maria worked to support herself and her family.  She was then accepted to the University of Texas at San Antonio. While enrolled as a full-time student, Maria juggled three jobs, as a housekeeper, babysitter, and personal assistant, in order to pay a total of about $40,000 out-of-pocket.  Due to her immigration status, Maria was not eligible for financial aid.

In May 2012, Maria graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.  After her graduation, she was accepted into Teach for America, which places high-achieving college graduates in low-income schools.  Today, Maria continues her career as a teacher.  She teaches third grade in her home town of San Antonio, Texas.  At the same time, she is pursuing a graduate degree in education.

In July, Durbin and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.

Other Dreamer stories that Durbin has shared on the Senate floor are available here.