Durbin: GOP Bill Would Deport 600,000 Dreamers And Shut Down DACA Program




[WASHINGTON, DC] – With just 3 days until the short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security expires, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) came to the Senate Floor today to urge Senate Republicans to abandon efforts to play politics with the lives of young people impacted by immigration policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). During his speech, Durbin shared the story of Mithi Del Rosario, who received DACA after she graduated from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and is now working as a research assistant at the UCLA School of Medicine. Mithi has been able to apply to medical school because of the creation of the DACA program.

Mithi was brought to the United States from the Philippines when she was five years old and grew up in California. She has a degree in psychology from UCLA and volunteers as a research assistant in a lab that studies infants at high risk of developing autism. She also volunteered as a crisis counselor for UCLA Peer Helpline, advising students who were victims of rape, child abuse, and substance abuse.  Mithi also volunteered as a mentor and tutor for at-risk middle-school children in Los Angeles.

“This young lady – and millions like her – grew up in the classrooms of America and pledged allegiance to that flag. It’s the only flag they’ve ever known. They can only sing one national anthem – the anthem of the nation that’s closest to their heart – the United States of America. But now there is an effort underway by some members of Congress to deport Mithi and send her back to the Philippines,” Durbin said. “They say that despite all that she’s done, despite all the talents that she brings to our country, despite her promise to enter into the medical profession and serve in a cause that is so important – autism research – they say ‘leave America.’”

“It’s hard to imagine that so many on the other side of the aisle have lost sight of who we are as a nation. We are a nation of immigrants and that immigrant spirit has made us different in this world we live in.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks today on the Senate Floor is available here.

For years, Durbin has spoken on the U.S. Senate Floor to highlight the stories of Dreamers in Illinois and across the country. Yesterday, he told the story of Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn and two weeks ago he shared the stories of Herta Lusho, brothers Nelson and Jhon Magdaleno, and Johana Mejias, a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine student.

New was brought to the United States from Thailand when he was 9 years old.  Throughout high school, New worked 30 hours a week at his family’s Thai restaurant.  He graduated as the salutatorian of his high school class, with a 4.3 grade point average.  In May, 2012, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with honors, with a 3.7 grade point average and a major in Molecular and Cellular Biology.  As a result of DACA, New was able to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.  Last fall, New began medical school at the University of California, San Francisco.  During his spare time, he volunteers at the Homeless Clinic that is run by students at the University of California, San Francisco.  New has also co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers, a national network of more than 400 Dreamers who are pursuing careers in health care. A video of Durbin sharing New’s story is available HERE.

Herta was brought to the United States from Albania when she was 11.  She grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.  Herta quickly learned English and became an academic star.  She graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School with a 4.05 grade point average.  In high school, she was a member of the varsity track team, won an Advanced Placement Scholar Award, and was a member of the National Honor Society. Herta went on to the University of Detroit Mercy, and she graduated with a major in electrical engineering, with honors.  While she was in college, she completed two internships at engineering companies.  Herta has also been very involved in her community, volunteering at homeless shelters, tutoring programs, and her church. She now works as an engineer at an energy company in Michigan.  A video of Durbin sharing Herta’s story is available HERE.

Nelson and Jhon Magdaleno were brought to the United States from Venezuela at the ages of 11 and 9. They both went on to the Georgia Institute of Technology, one of the most selective engineering schools in America. Nelson graduated with honors with a major in computer engineering. Jhon graduated last year with a major in chemical and biomedical engineering with highest honors. DACA has allowed Nelson and Jhon to contribute their talents to our economy by working for Fortune 500 companies; Nelson works as a computer engineer and Jhon as process engineer. A video of Durbin sharing their story is available HERE.

Johana Mejias was brought to the United States from Venezuela when she was a child.  She grew up in Boulder, Colorado.  Johana played on her high school softball team, played viola in the orchestra, and dreamed of becoming a doctor. In 2011, Johana graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a double major in Molecular, Cellular, and Development Biology, and Psychology-Neuroscience. After graduating from college, Johana was unable to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, because she was undocumented. When DACA was established by President Obama in 2012, Mejias began medical school at Loyola University Chicago. After she graduates she has committed to stay in Illinois to practice in medically-underserved communities. A video of Durbin sharing Johana’s story is available HERE.

In addition to Johnana’s story, Durbin has shared the stories of other DACA recipients attending Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of medicine as the Senate has debated the DHS funding bill. Three weeks ago, Durbin shared the stories of Loyola University Chicago medical school students Everarado Arias, Aaima Sayed and Pablo da Silva on the Senate Floor.

Everardo was brought to the United States from Mexico in 1997, when he was seven years old.  He grew up in California and became an excellent student. When Everardo was a sophomore, he met with a counselor who told him he had no chance of becoming a doctor, because he was undocumented. Everardo didn’t give up on his dream. Shortly after he graduated from the University of California Riverside with a chemistry major with research honors, President Obama established the DACA program. After he received DACA, Everardo worked as a health educator through Americorps and, now, is in his first year at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. In his free time, he volunteers at a local clinic where he provides medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. Video of Durbin telling Everardo’s story is available HERE.

Aaima Sayed was brought to the United States from Pakistan when she was only 3-years-old. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, and went on to Rutgers University. Aaima took the Medical College Admission Test – the MCAT’s – and scored in the 90th percentile, better than 90 percent of those who took the test. Shortly after Aaima graduated, President Obama announced the DACA program. Because of DACA, Aaima is now a medical student at Loyola University Chicago, pursuing her dream of becoming a physician – after she graduates, she will work in a medically-underserved area of Illinois. Video of Durbin telling Aaima’s story is available HERE.

Pablo da Silva was brought to the United States from Brazil in 2001, when he was 13 years old. Pablo was an excellent student and he dreamed of becoming a doctor.  During high school and college, Pablo volunteered at a nursing home every week. After being accepted at Rutgers University he was told he couldn’t qualify for financial aid because he was undocumented. He decided to attend community college and completed a two-year associate’s degree in only one year. Pablo then transferred to Kean University, and in 2011 he graduated at the top of his class with a major in biology summa cum laude.  He received an award for the highest grade point average in the biology department. Last fall, Pablo da Silva began medical school at Loyola University Chicago, where he is pursuing his dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Video of Durbin telling Pablo’s story is available HERE.

In August 2014, Durbin attended at event welcoming the first seven DACA medical students to Loyola. Photos from that event are available here, and video is available here.


Over the last few years, Durbin, the original sponsor of the DREAM Act, has shared the stories of more than fifty Dreamers on the Senate Floor.  In April 2010, Durbin was the first member of Congress to call for the establishment of DACA. Since House Republicans have threatened to eliminate DACA, Durbin has been updating the Senate regularly on the accomplishments and contributions of Dreamers who have received DACA. This year, Durbin has continued this tradition by updating the Senate about several Dreamers who are using DACA to give back to the country they love.

More information about these Dreamers’ stories – and the stories of every Dreamer Durbin has spoken about on the Senate Floor – is available here.