In Speech On Senate Floor, Durbin Applauds President Biden's Executive Actions For Undocumented Immigrants

In March, Durbin led a letter to President Biden requesting this relief for undocumented immigrants—including allowing undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens to seek protection & streamlining the process for DACA holders to change their immigration status

WASHINGTON – In  a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded President Joe Biden’s executive actions to offer relief to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, including allowing undocumented immigrants married to U.S. citizens to seek protection and streamlining the process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) holders and other immigrants to change their immigration status. In March, Durbin led a group of 19 Senate Democrats in a letter to President Biden requesting this administrative relief for undocumented immigrants. 

“My mother was an immigrant to this country. Her son is a Senator from the State of Illinois. And that I think is an indication of what can happen to the sons and daughters of immigrants given a chance. That’s what America is all about,” said Durbin. “The former President made it clear he does not want a solution to our immigration challenges before the November election. He wants a campaign issue. He has demonized immigrants saying, and this is one of the most despicable quotes I can think of, that they are ‘poisoning the blood of our country.’ He has promised to round up and deport every undocumented immigrant in our country, including Dreamers. In light of this Republican obstruction, President Biden has no choice but to use his authority as President to improve our broken immigration system.”

Durbin continued, “That’s why three months ago, I led a group of 19 Senate Democrats asking President Biden to protect immigrants with deep roots in our country including Dreamers and the spouses of U.S. citizens. This week, President Biden responded—taking action to protect immigrants who have been here for decades, paying taxes, and contributing to all of our communities. The President is helping Americans with noncitizen spouses keep their families together by allowing them to apply for lawful, permanent residence—a status they are already eligible for—without leaving the country. He is also allowing Dreamers and other immigrants who have earned a degree from an American college and received a job offer from a U.S. employer related to their field to more quickly receive work visas.”

Durbin also shared the story of Dr. Adam Sonabend, an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who discovered a major breakthrough into treating glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer that is diagnosed in about 12,000 Americans annually. Dr. Sonabend is a native of Mexico City, Mexico.

“The discussion of immigration here in the United States often is a discussion about fear and hate, that immigrants are somehow a threat to this country. Donald Trump has gone so far as to say they ‘poison the blood of America,’” Durbin said. “We should be proud of the fact that this nation of immigrants invites people to bring their talents to the United States and to succeed. Dr. Sonabend coming to the United States from Mexico is certainly welcome. I want him to stay and be successful and his team as well. We need his immigrant talent as others will throughout our nation’s history. They are going to make a difference in the lives of a lot of individuals.”

Durbin concluded, “I commend President Biden for taking these steps, but ultimately only Congress can fix the immigration system in America. To my Republican colleagues who may criticize the President, instead I urge you to work with Democrats to pass immigration reform legislation.”

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.

As the lead author of the Dream Act and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Durbin has been a champion for immigration reform for years. Durbin and then-Republican Senator Richard Lugar were the first members of Congress to call on President Obama to establish the DACA program in April 2010. Durbin, along with seven of his Republican and Democratic colleagues, authored comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would have made critical reforms to our immigration system and 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.