December 20, 2017

On Senate Floor, Gillibrand Calls On Congress To Take Action To Protect Dreamers

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dreamers Are At Risk Of Being Deported From The Only Country They Know As Home, Gillibrand: “If The President Won’t Lead, Then Congress Must Lead, And We Need To Lead Now”

 **WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s speech on the Senate Floor HERE**

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke on the Senate floor this afternoon to urge her colleagues to protect Dreamers in the long-term government spending bill. In September, President Trump announced his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting hundreds of thousands of young people in this country at risk of losing their protected status and being deported. Gillibrand has said she will not vote for any long-term spending bill that does not protect Dreamers, and urged her colleagues to pass the Dream Act now. 

Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as delivered:

Mr. President, I rise to speak about an urgent crisis that Congress must solve now for nearly 800,000 Dreamers in this country.

I am proud to represent New York State in the U.S. Senate.

And one of things I am most proud of is that my state is home to tens of thousands of Dreamers – tens of thousands of young people who have never known any other country as home but this one.  

When President Trump announced that he wanted to end the DACA program, it was one of the most inhumane actions of his entire presidency.

Let me be clear about what ending DACA will do.

Ending DACA will force thousands of Dreamers to lose their jobs, it will force them to go into hiding, it will force them to have to make the unimaginable choice between either staying here undocumented or being forced out of the United States.

So I ask my colleagues, are you really okay letting that happen, when you personally have the power to prevent it from happening right now?

Attacking Dreamers like this goes against our most basic values as Americans, our most basic sense of right versus wrong.

And I know this chamber is divided about how to fix our broken immigration system, but just for a second, forget about ideology and think about what it actually means for these young people who have spent their entire lives here.

They are waiting and wondering if Congress actually has the guts to stand up to President Trump and do what is right.

If the President won’t lead, then Congress must lead, and we need to lead now.

We have to protect our Dreamers, and we need to pass the Dream Act.

And most of all, we should never allow our Dreamers to be used as political pawns. We should simply do what both parties have said is the right thing to do, which is to pass the Dream Act.

This is a matter of basic human rights and human dignity. It’s about people’s lives – and I’m not going to compromise on that.

Mr. President, are you willing to compromise on that?

We need to fix this problem, and we don’t have a lot of time to do it.

Every week that Congress refuses to take action, more Dreamers lose their DACA status.

Very soon, we are going to have to pass a long-term spending bill just to keep the government running.

But the Republican leadership has not yet committed to including a provision in the bill to protect our Dreamers.

So Mr. President, I want to say this very clearly: If my Republican colleagues refuse to do the right thing and protect our Dreamers in the upcoming long-term spending bill, I will vote no.

I will ask all of my colleagues to join me in this fight. I will ask all of them to see that this issue not as a political question, it’s just a basic question of whether or not we are a country that protects children.

I am never going to compromise when it comes to our Dreamers. Not when their lives are literally hanging in the balance.

Time is desperately running out. So I urge my colleagues to do what is right.

We must protect the Dreamers.