On Day Of Supreme Court Oral Arguments, Durbin Calls On Senate To Pass Dream & Promise Act

WASHINGTON—Following today’s oral argument in the Supreme Court on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, today came to the Senate floor to make a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass the bipartisan House-passed American Dream and Promise Act, which will establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).  Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) objected.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin also shared the stories of Cesar Montelongo and Fernanda Herrera Vera.  Durbin met with Cesar and Fernanda earlier today.

“Without DACA, Cesar will not become a doctor, Fernanda will not become an attorney.  Will America be a better country if they are forced to leave, if they are deported?  I don’t think so,” Durbin said.  “Cesar, Fernanda, and hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers are counting on the Supreme Court to do the right thing and reject President Trump’s repeal of DACA.”

Durbin continued, “They are also counting on those of us who serve in the Senate to stop making excuses and solve this crisis… I’m sorry that there was an objection today.  As long as I am a United States Senator, I’m going to continue to come to the floor of the Senate to advocate for Cesar, Fernanda, and all of the Dreamers.  It would be an American tragedy to deport these two promising young people.  Now it’s in the hands of Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader, to give the Dream and Promise Act a vote and to say to those 780,000 who do not know what their future will be just days or weeks from now, there is an answer.  We want you to be part of America.”

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.

Durbin first introduced the Dream Act nineteen years ago.  In March, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Durbin introduced the Dream Act of 2019.  The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin and Graham coauthored as part of the “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans.  The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it.

Cesar Montelongo was ten years old when his family came to the United States from Mexico.  He grew up in New Mexico, where his academic prowess was quickly apparent.  Cesar graduated high school with a Grade Point Average above 4.0, and he was ranked third in his class. 

Cesar went on to New Mexico State University, where he was a triple major in biology, microbiology, and Spanish with minors in chemistry and biochemistry.  Cesar graduated with distinction in the honors track with a 3.9 GPA.  Cesar then earned a Master’s degree in biology, with a minor in molecular biology, while also working as a teaching assistant. 

Today, Cesar is the first DACA student enrolled in the MD-PhD program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.  Upon completion of this highly competitive program, he will receive a medical degree and a doctorate in science.

In 2017, Durbin told Cesar’s story on the Senate floor.

When Fernanda was two years old, her family came to the United States from Mexico. When Fernanda was seven, her family was forced to leave Guntersville, Alabama, when her father lost his job due to his immigration status.  The family settled in Gadsden, Alabama, where Fernanda attended a private Catholic school on scholarship.  When Fernanda was 10, her parents opened a restaurant.  Every day after school, she went to the restaurant to wait tables and help run the restaurant, doing her homework in spare time.

During Fernanda’s junior year of high school, Alabama passed the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country, which forced the family restaurant to shut down. Alabama barred Dreamers from attending public colleges, but thanks to DACA, Fernanda was able to attend a private school, Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents worked hard to pay her tuition - her father worked 80 hours a week at a chicken plant. Fernanda graduated Samford in 2017 and her experiences drove her to become an immigration activist, working at the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice. Last year, Fernanda entered the Loyola University Chicago School of Law. This spring, her mother was pulled over in Georgia for driving with a broken taillight.  Her mother is now in deportation proceedings.  Fernanda’s dream is to be an immigration lawyer so she can help people like her mother.