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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of the DREAM Act, which would help make sure that young people across the country have access to the American Dream. Senate Republicans blocked debate on the DREAM Act when they refused to allow the underlying bill to advance on the floor. During her speech, Senator Murray told stories of Washington state students whose undocumented status prevent them from accessing college or joining the military.

“The amendment we proposed would have allowed us to take a first step towards fixing an immigration system that is clearly broken with real solutions that will help real people,”  Senator Murray said in her speech today.  “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 like Carlos and Judith 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 extremely disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked our attempt to begin debate on the legislation this amendment was attached to.  I am going to keep fighting for the DREAM Act.  And I am going to 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.”

The DREAM Act would make permanent residency available to undocumented students who came to the United States when they were children, are long-term residents, have good moral character, and attend college for at least two years or enlist in the military.

Read the full text of Senator Murray’s speech below:

Mr. President, one of the many values that make 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—the amendment we proposed was a narrowly-tailored piece of legislation that was developed with Democrats and Republicans working together.

And I was extremely disappointed that Senate Republicans refused to even allow us to begin debate on this critical issue. 

The DREAM Act would give a select group of undocumented students the chance 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. 

And the DREAM Act would add a very strong incentive for them to enlist by providing a path to permanent legal status.

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 allow the young people who want to give back to America an opportunity to do so.

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 want to share a few stories I have heard that demonstrate why the DREAM Act is so critical.

I got a letter from a young man named Carlos, who was brought to the United States when he was just two years old.

Carlos’ mom went to work every day to provide for her son—but she never told him that he was undocumented.

It was only when he wanted to go overseas on a school community service trip that he found out.

Carlos excelled academically and helped his family out with money by selling hot dogs after school.

And by the end of High School he was student body Vice President and had received a scholarship to attend the University of Washington—where he is scheduled to start this year.

Carlos is going to continue selling hot dogs to pay for textbooks—and his dream is to go to law school and become a civil rights lawyer when he graduates.

I also heard from Judith, from Tacoma—another undocumented immigrant.

Judith recently graduated from high-school and she told me that she dreams of joining the Navy and serving her country. 

And I heard from another student in Washington state.

He is excelling at school—but because he is undocumented he has been unable to apply for work-study programs, internships, or federally funded scholarships.

He told me he wants to graduate and give back to the community by working with young people—that’s his dream—but he is afraid that his status will prevent him from achieving that goal.

He told me he lives in fear of being deported. That the United States is his home, and that he wants nothing more than to be given a shot at the American Dream.

Mr. President—the only way that can happen—the only way any of these young people can get that shot—is if we pass the DREAM Act.

The stories I told here today are of just three of the young people whose lives this affects—but I have received hundreds of stories just like theirs.

And this issue touches so many more across the country.

The amendment we proposed would have allowed us to take 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 like Carlos and Judith 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 extremely disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked our attempt to begin debate on the legislation this amendment was attached to.

I am going to keep fighting for the DREAM Act.

And I am going to 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.