With Supreme Court Set To Rule On DACA Any Day, Durbin Calls On Senate To Protect Dreamers

Durbin Highlights Important Work That Immigrant Health Heroes Are Doing On The Front Lines Throughout The COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, today thanked the health care heroes on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighted one special group of health care workers – immigrants.  Durbin also called on Senate Republicans to support the bipartisan House-passed American Dream and Promise Act, which will establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), as well as the House-passed Heroes Act, which would extend work authorizations for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and other impacted immigrants.

While court decisions on DACA and TPS hang in the balance, Dreamers and TPS holders across the country are working on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 as doctors, nurses, health care professionals, and in countless other essential job roles.  Despite their contributions to the American workforce, the Trump Administration is focused on arbitrarily ending the programs that allow approximately 131,300 TPS holders and 202,500 DACA recipients to serve on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19.

Durbin’s floor speech was part of his initiative to share the stories of #ImmigrantHealthHeroes.  Today, Durbin shared the story of Mariana Galati, a registered medical assistant at the Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital COVID-19 testing center in New Jersey.

“As soon as next week, maybe even next Monday, the United States Supreme Court is about to rule on the future of DACA.  The President of the United States can solve this problem if they [Supreme Court Justices] decide that DACA is to be abolished.  He can fix this himself,” Durbin said.  “There’s another person who has a critical role too, and that is Senator McConnell, the Republican Leader in the Senate.  He has the power to bring this issue to the floor of the Senate for a debate and a vote.”

Durbin continued, “We know that we need the help of wonderful young people like Mariana to make this a better nation.  The question is whether the President ever will realize that or whether Senator McConnell would make room in our schedule for us to debate this issue.  Let’s get this right.  Let’s make sure that we have sensible immigration policies in America.  And the notion of abolishing DACA and saying to Mariana, you will now be deported back to a country you cannot even remember is not the answer.”

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 2019, 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.

In April, Durbin led 37 Senators in a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to automatically extend work authorizations for DACA and TPS recipients and other impacted immigrants.

Mariana is the 122nd Dreamer whose story Durbin has told on the Senate floor.  Mariana came to the United States from Mexico when she was only five years old.  She grew up in Camden, New Jersey.  Mariana’s dream was to become a nurse.   While working at a bakery, she went to technical school to become a medical assistant. Because President Obama established DACA in 2012, Mariana is able to work as a medical assistant. 

While working as a medical assistant, Mariana is studying to become a nurse.  She is now a junior at Rutgers University Nursing School.  Mariana is also currently on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  She is a registered medical assistant at the Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital COVID-19 testing center.  She faces exposure to the virus on a daily basis. But she takes every shift she’s offered.