Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate in favor of the DREAM Act, to help ensure that all children who grow up in the United States have a chance to succeed.
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I was profoundly disappointed when Republicans blocked the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform legislation earlier this year.
I continue to believe that tough, fair, practical and comprehensive reform is the only way to get control of our broken immigration system and to restore the rule of law.
I remain committed to enacting such legislation in the future. By doing nothing, America is left with the same problems that have plagued our broken system for years.
But until we can once again move forward on comprehensive reform, we should enact two crucially important elements of that reform: the DREAM Act and the AgJobs proposal.
I am a co-sponsor and strong supporter of the DREAM Act, because I believe that education is the key to our children’s future and our success as a nation.
The DREAM Act would allow children who have grown-up in the United States — brought here by their parents through no fault of their own — to legalize their status. The DREAM Act recognizes that children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents.
Many of these children came here when they were very young. Many don’t even remember their home countries or speak the language of their home countries. They think of themselves as American and they are just as loyal and devoted to our country as any American.
Only children who came to the US when they were 15 years old or younger and have been in the US for at least five years can apply, and they would have to meet certain criteria, including —
— including earning a high school diploma;
— demonstrating good moral character;
— and passing criminal and security clearances.
To qualify for permanent status, they must go to college or serve in the military for two years.
Mr. President, I have met star students in Nevada who would qualify for the DREAM Act. With it, their futures are limitless. Without it, their hope is diminished.
Many of the children this bill would help are very talented and have graduated at the top or near the top of their classes.
What a waste it is to make it more difficult for them to go to college, or to prohibit them from getting jobs, when they could be making meaningful contributions to their communities and to our country.
What good does it do anybody to prevent these young people from having a future?
I had hoped that we would be able to offer this legislation as an amendment to the pending legislation, the DOD authorization bill.
Over the last few days, I have had numerous conversations with Senator Durbin, the DREAM Act’s chief sponsor, and other Senate colleagues about doing so.
Unfortunately, some Republicans are opposed to this proposal and are unwilling to let us move forward on this bill.
We will not give up the fight, and are committed to trying to move this important legislation by mid-November.
Enacting the DREAM Act will give more of our children an opportunity to succeed. I hope it will soon be enacted, so we can put the American dream within reach for more children in Nevada and in our nation.