(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after Senate Republicans blocked the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2010 (DREAM Act). The legislation needed sixty votes to proceed, and it failed on a 55-41 vote.
“I am extremely disappointed that Senate Republicans continue to block this common-sense legislation that would help so many young people in Washington state and across the country,” said Senator Murray following the vote. “I’m not going to stop working to pass the DREAM Act. And I’m not going to stop working toward the comprehensive immigration reform that our country needs.”
Senator Murray introduced the following statement into the record prior to the vote:
“Mr. President, one of the many values that makes America so great is that no matter where we start off from in life, we believe that we all deserve to have a shot at the American dream.
“We all deserve an opportunity to work hard, support our families, and give back to the nation that has been there for us all of our lives.
“This is an American value I cherish. It’s one I feel very strongly we ought to maintain and strengthen. And it’s why I stand here today to talk about the DREAM Act, which would help us do exactly that.
“Mr. President—this bill is about giving those that know no other country but the United States an opportunity.
“An opportunity to give back as a successful member of society, an opportunity to serve in the military and to risk their lives to defend the values we hold dear, an opportunity to reach a legal status that allows them to come out of the shadows, and an opportunity to reap the benefits of the fact that they have worked hard and played by the rules.
“Mr. President, the DREAM Act would allow a select group of undocumented students a path to become permanent residents if they came to this country as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and attend college for at least two years or enlist in the military.
“Under this bill, tens of thousands of well-qualified potential recruits would become eligible for military service for the first time.
“These are young people who love our country and are eager to serve in the Armed Forces during a time of war.
“It would also make qualified students eligible for temporary legal immigration status upon high school graduation—which would lead to permanent residency if they attend college.
“And most importantly—it would tell young people –who have studied, who have worked multiple jobs, who have often overcome poverty and hurdles that few other young people face – that the American dream is alive and well.
“Mr. President, this is about our values as a nation.
“But it’s also about real communities. And real people in my home state of Washington and across the country.
“I recently heard from a student named Jessica who is a senior at Washington State University.
“Jessica shared how she is on the verge of completing her degree and would like nothing more than to continue on to get her Masters degree in education so she could give back to her community.
“But like so many young people who would benefit from passage of this bill, for Jessica this is simply not a reality.
“Because we cannot move this bill, Jessica’s dream of helping to improve our education system has been dashed.
“Jessica writes that while the rest of her classmates attend career fairs and interviews she battles with the nightmare of having to do menial labor for the rest of her life or returning to a country she has never known.
“She ended her letter about the chance this bill would provide her by saying the following:
“The DREAM Act is the
only hope that I have to be a productive citizen in the future.
“I am amazingly
thankful for the opportunities that this country has offered me and my family
and the only thing that I want to do is to give back.
“I would like to be
given the opportunity and privilege to be able to obtain the American Dream
which is entitled to the citizens of this beautiful country.
“Please don’t continue
to close the doors on exemplary individuals.
“We want to become a part of this nation and continue to live on the values and principles written in the constitution because this is the only way we know.
“Mr. President—the only way that can happen—the only way any of these young people can get that shot—is if we pass this bill.
“Jessica is just one of the young people whose life this affects—but I have received hundreds of stories just like hers.
“And this issue touches so many more across the country.
“This bill is a first step towards fixing an immigration system that is clearly broken with real solutions that will help real people.
“And for me, this isn’t just about immigration - it’s about what type of country we want to be.
“America has long been a beacon of hope for people across the world.
“And I believe that to keep that beacon bright we need to make sure young people are given a shot at the American Dream.
“The dream that was there for me, that is there for my children and grandchild, and that is there for millions of others across this great country.
“So once again, I am calling on Senate Republicans to end their long efforts to block this legislation.
“Lets pass this bill today – let’s allow young people who have lived nearly their entire lives here to help boost our economy, help enrich our schools, and help defend our country.
“Let’s get back to common sense.
“And let’s keep working toward comprehensive immigration reform that helps our economy, affords the opportunities we have offered to generations of immigrants, maintains those great American value that I hold so dear, and improves our security.
“Thank you. I yield the floor.”