President Trump announced the end of the DACA program, leaving the futures of 800,000 young men and women in doubt unless Congress acts
In floor speech, Sen. Murray urges Republicans to reject President Trump's reckless agenda and instead support the bipartisan DREAM Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Thursday, December 7, in a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) called on Senate Republicans to support immediate passage of the bipartisan DREAM Act. The lives of 800,000 men and women have been in limbo since September, when President Trump announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Sen. Murray highlighted the stories of three DACA recipients from Washington state - a health professional, a WSU student, and a business owner - who attribute their success to the 2012 program.
Full text of Senator Murray's floor speech, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you. I come to the floor today as a voice for 800,000 young men and women who are counting on all of us to pass the Dream Act. We can't wait, because they can't wait. Every day that passes is another day they are forced to keep their lives on hold.
Right now hundreds of thousands of young people in this country are deferring their dreams of finishing a college degree, becoming a doctor, buying a home, raising a family, starting a small business, or serving in our military - all because President Trump pulled the plug on the DACA program three months ago.
Imagine that feeling. Imagine waking up day after day without any certainty about what comes next. And imagine that the country you love - the country you have grown up in, where you're part of the community, where you pay your taxes, where you spend your time, your energy, and your money - won't commit to uphold its promise to you.
That's just wrong.
Dreamers were brought to this country as children - some of them so young, they don't remember it. And holding up their futures - or sending them to a country they've never known - makes no sense for them or for our country.
It doesn't do anything to solve our broken immigration system. And it certainly doesn't reflect a country of opportunity or promise, something the U.S. has always aspired to be.
My colleagues have been sharing stories from their states. Here are a few from Washington state - just a few of so many I've heard in recent months.
Not long ago, I was in Tacoma to visit a community organization that has helped hundreds of men and women get enrolled in the DACA program, including a woman named Adriana. Adriana has always been a strong student. As early as middle school, she was representing her school district in statewide math and science competitions. Now, after becoming a certified nursing assistant, she is a program manager supervising others. Letting the DACA program collapse would be a huge setback for Adriana. And, it would end her authorization to work as a nursing assistant.
I've also heard from a sophomore at my alma mater, Washington State University, who was brought to the U.S. at the age of nine. Thanks to the DACA program, she was able to get a job helping adults with disabilities, which has allowed her to pay for college tuition and support herself. So she's a full-time student with a part-time job, and still finds time to volunteer in her community. She's on track to graduate in 2019 and she dreams of owning her own company someday.
I heard from another DACA recipient, who owns a business in Washington state. He said his college degree from the University of Washington - that he completed without any federally-funded help - symbolized one of his great life challenges. And as he noted, he is now using his education, his skills, earnings, and taxes to contribute to the U.S. economy. He writes, 'This country is my home.' The thought that 'this country' would slam the door shut on him or any other Dreamer, after all they have put into their communities and our country, is so backward.
So that's why we, Senators who were elected to work for the people and address the big issues facing this country, need to act. I urge my Republican colleagues, consider the stories you've heard from your own state. Think about the communities you represent, and the young men and women who are studying, working, and opening businesses in the communities that you travel to and live in. Show them that President Trump's reckless, divisive agenda doesn't represent you, your party, or your state.
Work with Democrats to stand for the Dreamers in your district who are unsure if they can keep their job at a hospital or as a firefighter, or serve in our military to fight for our freedoms. Who are unsure if they can stay in the only country they've known as home and remain with loved ones. We need the help of every member to push back against the policies and the rhetoric that hurts our friends and neighbors, our coworkers, our students, and our loved ones
Because, to paraphrase Dr. King - we know that only our light can drive out the dark forces of bigotry and division in our country. I want to thank the countless DACA recipients who have bravely shared their stories in letters, in person, and at rallies across our great nation.
I know it can't be easy to speak up in these uncertain times but I want Dreamers to know there are a lot of us in Congress, and across the country, inspired by your courage and resilience. We stand with you, and we will not stop until we get this across the finish line.
Thank you, I yield the floor.
Courtesy of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
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