Transcript: Sen. Dick Durbin on the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill

Partial transcript of remarks by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”. The press briefing was held on April 18, 2013:

I can remember one of the earliest meetings of this group when we started talking about what’s the bottom line, what’s not negotiable, why are we here.

And I can remember the Democrats saying, “Whatever we write has to be fair and protect American workers.”

And I can recall the Republicans saying, “Whatever we write we have to be firm in protecting our border.”

And the Democrats said, “The bottom line is a path to legalization and citizenship for these people living in the shadows.”

And the Republicans came back and said, “Yes, but they have to earn their way on that path – pay their taxes, pay their fines, have a job, learn English. It’s not going to be easy. They have to earn their way.”

Those are the basic principles that started this conversation. I think there were about 24 meetings that took place as we came together – sometimes for hours – at great length to talk about all of the issues that are part of this 800-plus page bill.

This isn’t perfect but it’s a good faith, common sense approach to fixing a badly broken immigration system. And there are several reasons why we’re here and why particularly I’m here.

First, the American people want us to do something. The notion that we would end this process with the same broken immigration system is just unacceptable. We believe on a bipartisan basis we’ve come up with a good approach – one that will make this country safer and more productive.

Second, I want to say a word about an issue that touches my heart because it’s one that I’ve been working on for more than 12 years and that’s the DREAM Act. This is an issue which means the world to me and to so many young people across this country. And I want to thank my colleagues here because that meeting that we set aside for the DREAM Act was a pretty short meeting. Everybody said it’s time. It is time.

And the reason it’s time is not because it’s a good idea and there’s wisdom behind it but because we’ve all come to know the Dreamers – those young people brought to this country by their parents with no decision in the process; those young people who are now stepping forward. Remember they spent most of their young lives being counseled: “Keep your head down. Don’t sign anything. If the police show up, go quietly to the exit because you can be deported in a second.” But having learned that as children, they came to realize to be part of this political process they had to do exactly the opposite; they had to stand up at great personal risk and introduce themselves to America and tell their stories.

Let me tell you three of the stories represented today.

Gaby Pacheco came to the United States from Ecuador at the age of seven. She was the highest-ranked junior ROTC student in her high school. She served as president of Florida’s Junior College Student Government.

Three years ago, Gaby and three other Dreamers walked all the way from Miami Florida to Washington, D.C. – 1,500 miles to build support for the DREAM Act. And along the way, they were joined by hundreds of young people – some Dreamers and some just young people and supporters. They called their trip “The Trail of Dreams.”

Gaby, thank you.

Tolu Olubumni brought to America from Nigeria as a child. In 2002, she graduated from a prestigious university in Virginia with a degree in chemical engineering. It’s been 10 years since Tolu graduated; she has yet to work a day as a chemical engineer because she is undocumented.

Tolu, thank you for being here today.

Lorella Praeli. Lorella was brought to the United States from Peru as a child. She graduated summa cum laude from Quinnipiac University with a B.A. in political science and sociology. She started the Connecticut Students for a DREAM, a statewide organization advocating for the DREAM Act. She’s now the policy and advocacy director for United We Dream, the country’s largest organization of young immigrants.

All three of these young women have dedicated themselves full-time to helping pass a comprehensive immigration reform not just to help themselves but to help mom and dad and their brothers and sisters.

When I look at these three, I see the courage, handwork, and determination that makes America – this nation of immigrants – the greatest on Earth.

Some day in the not too distant future, it’s my prayer when our immigration reform law becomes the law of the land that I can attend the naturalization ceremonies and watch these young people swear an oath of allegiance to this country that is their home. On that day, America would be a better and stronger country.

Thank you.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Sen. Dick Durbin on the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill

  1. Pingback: Transcript: Sen. Chuck Schumer on the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform bill | What The Folly?!

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