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Senator Murray: Senate debate presents “new chance to finally fix our broken immigration system for the Dreamers who call our country home”

Outcome could impact nearly 17,000 Washingtonians enrolled in DACA program

ICYMI— Senator Murray on budget deal: This “cannot be the end of our bipartisan work…I am going to keep fighting to protect Dreamers and their families" – LINK

(Washington, D.C.)  – As open debate began on repairing the United States’ damaged immigration system, including a path forward for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and other young people living undocumented in the United States, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, urged her colleagues to “tackle the tough issues” and find a bipartisan path forward to allow Dreamers to stay in the only country they’ve ever known. In a speech on the Senate floor, Senator Murray shared stories of two Washington state Dreamers who were brought to the United States as children and learned the truth about their citizenship later in life, highlighting how DACA helped them advance professionally and make positive contributions to their families and local community. In her remarks Senator Murray also urged her colleagues to “work in good faith” through the debate, and remain focused on protecting Dreamers and finding common sense solutions to secure the nation’s borders.

Senator Murray has championed past efforts to improve the nation’s immigration system, and has actively fought to find a permanent solution for hundreds of thousands of young people enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. Last September, the Trump Administration announced plans to end DACA, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of young people, including nearly 17,000 young people living in Washington state.

Key Excerpts from Senator Murray’s floor speech:

“Finding a bipartisan path forward to both secure our borders and protect the futures of so many hardworking families is why we are here. First though, we must agree to some basic truths […] Dreamers are determined, they are passionate, they are American in every way except on paper. They are fighting for the only lives they’ve ever known. They are fighting for their loved ones with everything they’ve got. And they are trying to do it the right way.”

“Dreamers like Jose Manuel, who grew up in South Seattle—and who didn’t know he wasn’t a natural-born citizen until he went to get a driver’s license. Thanks to the DACA program, Jose Manuel was able to graduate from the University of Washington, start a tech business, and volunteer at local non-profits.”

“Another Dreamer who grew up in Pasco, Washington, described being four years old when he was taken to the airport to fly to the U.S. He was so young, he didn’t understand what was going on. He only recalls being confused about why he couldn’t bring all of his toys with him to his new home in America. Years later, after he enrolled in DACA, he said he was able to quit working in manual labor, and start working as a personal banker at Wells Fargo. There are hundreds of thousands of Dreamers with a similar story.”

“…[D]espite failed attempts in the past, today is a new day and a new chance to finally fix our broken immigration system for the Dreamers who call our country home […] It’s a new chance for my Republican colleagues to stand by their word and do what they said: work with Democrats—in good faith—to find a bipartisan path forward that will allow Dreamers to stay here, in the country they call home.”

Watch video of Senator Murray’s floor speech below or HERE.

Senator Murray delivers a speech on the floor of the United State Senate on February 13 urging her colleagues to find a bipartisan path forward to protect DREAMers.

Full text of Senator Murray’s floor speech below:

“Thank you, M. President.

“As people around the nation listen to this floor debate, I’m sure they can hear the divisions about immigration loud and clear.

“I know I can.

“Immigration policy is hard, it is emotional—and it has vexed this Congress for decades.

“And while the floor debate we’re having right now can be trying, and could be thrown off-kilter by one more ill-timed tweet from the president—we must keep our eye on the ball.

“Because as tough as it may seem right here, the stakes are so much higher for millions of people who live every day in this country: trapped in a broken immigration system, facing the constant fear of deportation, and suffering the threat of being ripped apart from their families, their friends, and the communities they love.

“So just like the deep divisions we see on this issue across the country, finding a path forward in the Senate, in the House, and then all the way to the White House isn’t going to be easy.

“But tackling the tough issues—and engaging in fair and honest debate—is why we are here.

“Creating a more perfect union is why we are here.

“Finding a bipartisan path forward to both secure our borders and protect the futures of so many hardworking families is why we are here.

“First though, we must agree to some basic truths.

“To start, Dreamers—hundreds of thousands of our friends and our neighbors, our teachers and our firefighters, our servicemembers and our students—are not criminals.

“They are not MS-13 gang members, nor are they are the shadowy figures depicted in disgusting campaign ads and in the President’s speeches.

“They are not a drain on our economy—in fact, Dreamers are just the opposite, contributing in countless ways to our communities, and enriching the lives of so many others.

“So who are Dreamers?

“Dreamers are determined, they are passionate, they are American in every way except on paper.

“They are fighting for the only lives they’ve ever known.

“They are fighting for their loved ones with everything they’ve got.

“And they are trying to do it the right way.

“A few years back, when Congress had fallen down on its job to fix the broken immigration system, Dreamers stepped up to work in good faith with the federal government.

“Dreamers like Jose Manuel, who grew up in South Seattle—and who didn’t know he wasn’t a natural-born citizen until he went to get a driver’s license.

“Thanks to the DACA program, Jose Manuel was able to graduate from the University of Washington, start a tech business, and volunteer at local non-profits.

“Another Dreamer who grew up in Pasco, Washington, described being four years old when he was taken to the airport to fly to the U.S.

“He was so young, he didn’t understand what was going on.

“He only recalls being confused about why he couldn’t bring all of his toys with him to his new home in America.

“Years later, after he enrolled in DACA, he said he was able to quit working in manual labor, and start working as a personal banker at Wells Fargo.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Dreamers with a similar story.

“They came out of the shadows, paid taxes, kept promises, underwent background checks, and did the hard work—even if only for a temporary shot at the opportunities so many others in this country have taken for granted.

“So what Dreamers are is the embodiment of so much of what this country was founded upon.

“M. President, that’s truth number one.

“Truth number two: we all want to keep America safe with common-sense border security measures…   

“…and for anyone to claim otherwise is merely an attempt to muddy the debate, so critics can retreat to their partisan corners, fall back upon their hateful rhetoric, and try to stop a bipartisan bill from moving forward.

“Because the reality is, no matter what political party you ascribe to, protecting and defending the safety of fellow citizens—and preventing those who would do us harm from entering this country—is something we all believe in and something we are all working for.

“Which leads me to truth number three.

“And that is, despite failed attempts in the past, today is a new day and a new chance to finally fix our broken immigration system for the Dreamers who call our country home.

“A new chance to honor our country’s rich tradition of welcoming people from all over the world who add to the rich tapestry of our nation, who enrich our communities, and who will write the next chapters of our nation’s story.

“It’s a new chance for my Republican colleagues to stand by their word and do what they said: work with Democrats—in good faith—to find a bipartisan path forward that will allow Dreamers to stay here, in the country they call home.  

“I hope Congress finally has the will to see this through.

“To be a nation of laws.

“And a land of opportunity.

“With the right piece of legislation, we can be both.

“Thank you, I yield the floor.”