Durbin: Passing The Dream Act By The End Of The Year Is a Matter Of Justice And Fairness

WASHINGTON—Three months after the Trump Administration’s September 5th announcement that it will rescind 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 before the end of the year.  More than 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status, and beginning early next year, 1,000 additional young people will lose this protection each day.

During his speech, Durbin shared the story of one Dreamer – Yuriana Aguilar, who was five years old when her family brought her to the United States from Mexico.  She is a research scientist specializing in cardiac health at Rush Medical Center in Chicago.  Yuriana is the 99th Dreamer whose story Durbin has told on the Senate floor over the years.  Other Dreamer stories are available here.

“Don’t we want someone like Yuriana to stay in this country?  Of course we do!  She’s a pretty determined young woman, and her determination does not only mean she has an opportunity for a great life, it’s the opportunity to make the lives of so many of us better,” said Durbin.  “If we make the Dream Act the law of the land, young people like Yuriana can prove to work their way into legal status, work their way into citizenship, and become a valuable part of America’s future.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and do what we were sent to do, solve problems, pass laws, make sure that we set the stage for America to be a better nation in years to come.” 

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.

Yuriana Aguilar grew up near Fresno, California and she was an excellent student.  She was in the top one percent of her high-school class and graduated as the valedictorian.  She was a member of her high school’s JROTC (Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps) unit.  And she volunteered at retirement homes and with a group called Tree Fresno, which plants trees and builds playgrounds in the community.  Yuriana was accepted to, and attended University of California Merced, where she majored in Biological Sciences.  She made the Dean’s List every semester, and was on the Chancellor’s Honors List.   She conducted research in marine biology, as well as atherosclerosis - the build-up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances in arteries.  And she continued her community service. Yuriana volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, with a local hospital, and with her church’s Sunday School program.  

Currently, Yuriana is a postdoctoral fellow and instructor in the Rush Medical College Department of Physiology & Biophysics.  She examines cardiac functioning on the cellular level.  Yuriana’s studying proteins that regulate calcium signaling, which is critical for contraction and electrical functions in the heart.  Seeing how this process works in a normal heart can help her detect differences in an unhealthy one.  Yuriana has a work permit thanks to DACA, but it will expire in one year if DACA ends.

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.