WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined a group of Democratic senators on the Senate floor to call for immediate passage of the DREAM Act, which would protect 800,000 young DREAMers — including almost 7,000 New Mexicans — from deportation, and allow them to continue to work, go to school, and support their families.
DREAMers are undocumented young people who were brought to this country as children by their parents through no fault of their own. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created during the Obama administration, allowed them to apply for temporary legal status so they could work and go to school without the fear of being deported. However, the Trump administration announced on Sept. 5 that it would rescind the program, putting DREAMers’ fate in the hands of Congress. More than 11,000 DREAMers across the country have already lost their DACA status. Beginning early next year, 1,000 additional young people will lose this protection each day. Udall is fighting for passage of the bipartisan DREAM Act, which would allow these young people to earn lawful permanent residence and access to a path toward citizenship.
“We have almost 800,000 young people whose lives, dreams, and future hang in the balance. They are scared. Their families are scared. Everything they have worked for is at risk,” Udall said in his speech. “[DREAMers] came here as children, and they are American through and through. They love our country as much as any of us, and they want to stay and contribute.”
Udall told the story of Carlos, a student in Las Cruces who came to New Mexico when he was a baby. “Carlos registered with DACA two years ago, and – in his words – he was given ‘wings.’ He is a now full-time student at New Mexico State University, studying to be a mechanical engineer. He volunteers as firefighter. He works as a server at a local restaurant, and he began a drive to help Hurricane Harvey victims…. Carlos’s story can be told hundreds of thousands of times over.”
“Congress must act, and we must act now. We owe it to these young people. We must give Carlos and all other DREAMers their wings,” Udall said. “Passing the DREAM Act is the morally right thing to do… so that hundreds of thousands of DREAMers can stop living in fear and move forward with their lives.”
The full text of Udall’s floor remarks is below.
Mr. President, the president terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – DACA – three months ago. He gave Congress six months to act. We are no closer today to helping our DREAMers than the day the president so callously cancelled the program.
But we have almost 800,000 young people whose lives, dreams, and future hang in the balance. They are scared. Their families are scared. Everything they have worked for is at risk.
DREAMers represent some of our very best and brightest. They are going to school, holding down jobs, volunteering in our communities. They want to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. They want to start businesses.
They came here as children, and they are American through and through. They love our country as much as any of us, and they want to stay and contribute.
We have almost 7,000 DREAMers in my home state of New Mexico. Carlos, here, is one of them. Carlos was brought to New Mexico from Mexico when he was less than one year old. New Mexico is the only home he has known.
Because of Carlos’ immigration status, his opportunities were limited. He couldn’t play sports in school, couldn’t go on field trips — even though he pledged allegiance to the United States just like his classmates.
Carlos registered with DACA two years ago, and – in his words – he was given “wings.” He is a now fulltime student at New Mexico State University studying to be a mechanical engineer. He volunteers as firefighter. He works as a server at a local restaurant. And he began a drive to help Hurricane Harvey victims.
Carlos says, “We as DREAMers have proven ourselves to be worthy of being here in the United States.”
Carlos’ story can be told hundreds of thousands of times over.
Congress must act, and we must act now. We owe it to these young people. We must give Carlos and all other DREAMers their wings.
Passing the DREAM Act is the morally right thing to do. But it is also the economically smart thing to do. DREAMers’ contributions to the U.S. economy are astounding. Their jobs span the spectrum – they work in health, education, nonprofits, wholesale, retail, business, and hold professional jobs.
Most of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DREAMers. That’s why more than 400 CEOs of major U.S. companies have urged Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
If Congress fails to act, it will cost us 700,000 jobs — as many as 30,000 a month – causing chaos for employers. And we could see a $460 billion decrease in economic output over a decade. Social Security and Medicare contributions could drop by $39.3 billion over the same period.
In my state — New Mexico would lose nearly 6,000 DACA workers and take a $385 million hit we simply cannot afford.
Mr. President, we have a bipartisan DREAM Act before us. Senator Durbin is working with our Republican colleagues and Republican friends to get this over the finish line.
Let’s do the thing right by these young people. And let’s do it now. So that Carlos can become an engineer. And so that hundreds of thousands of DREAMers can stop living in fear and move forward with their lives. Mr. President, it is our moral obligation to do this.
We also must do right by the 11 million immigrants in our nation who are working, raising families, contributing to our economy, and helping in our communities. Congress must stop kicking the can down the road.
We must do our job. We must debate and pass comprehensive immigration reform. Law abiding immigrants who are contributing to our nation should be given a pathway to citizenship.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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