Durbin: President Trump Created A Dreamer Crisis, Now Congress Must Act

WASHINGTON—Five months since the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and called for Congress to come up with a legislative solution, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today called on his Senate colleagues to come together and pass the bipartisan Dream Act. This week on the Senate floor, the Senate began debating immigration for the first time in five years. 

“We are in the midst of a debate on the floor in the United States Senate on immigration. March 5, which is just a few weeks away, means that many people will be subject to deportation and no longer allowed to work legally in the United States. President Trump challenged Congress to do something about it, to pass a law. Five months have passed and we haven’t done that. But now we have a chance to make this work,” said Durbin.

Durbin also spoke today about Tereza Lee, who was the first Dreamer, having contacted Durbin’s office 16 years ago.  Tereza was brought to the United States when she was two years old by her parents, and she was undocumented.  Tereza went on to obtain her BA and Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she is currently pursuing her Doctorate. 

Durbin also shared the story of Chloe Kim, the 17 year old Korean-American who won a gold medal in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at this year’s Winter Olympics. Her father, Jong Jin Kim, moved to the United States from South Korea in 1982.

“Her father, a Korean immigrant, with no measureable skills and little proficiency in English decided that he would help her, and he did. He made great sacrifices so she could develop her skills in snowboarding and ultimately she became one of the best in the world,” said Durbin. “Let’s remember Chloe Kim’s story is a story of immigration in America. It’s a story of people who come to these shores and are determined to make a life. They don’t bring wealth. Many don’t bring a proficiency in English. In many cases, they don’t bring advanced degrees. They only come here with a determination to make a better life for themselves and a better country for all of us. That’s the story of immigration.”

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

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

More than 19,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status, and beginning in less than one month – on March 5, 2018 – every day for the following two years 1,000 Dreamers will lose their work permits and be subject to deportation.  The Trump Administration itself has said that it will take six months to implement legislation legalizing DACA recipients. 

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