Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate to express his strong support for the DREAM Act.
Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Earlier this year, we had the chance to enact comprehensive immigration reform. That effort brought people together – from both sides of the aisle and all over the political spectrum – who agreed that our current immigration system works for no one. That effort brought Democrats and Republicans together in pursuit of the common good.
“So many of us were profoundly disappointed when a group of Republicans blocked that 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 comprehensive legislation in the future. But until we can once again move forward on comprehensive reform, we should at the very least enact the DREAM Act.
“We tried to offer this crucial legislation as an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill, but we were blocked in doing so by a small number of Republicans. At that time, I committed to moving to the DREAM Act for a vote before November 16th, and today we do just that.
“We now turn to the DREAM Act as stand-alone legislation, and I once again rise to offer my strong support for it. Anyone who believes, as I do, that education unlocks doors to limitless opportunity, should join me in voting for this legislation. The DREAM Act recognizes that children should not be penalized for the actions of their parents.
“Many of the children this bill addresses came here when they were very young. Many don’t even remember their home countries or speak the language of their home countries. They are just as loyal and devoted to our country as any American.
“Only children who came to the U.S. when they were 15 years old or younger, have been in the US for at least five years and are now not yet 30 years old can apply. Those who are eligible must earn a high school diploma, demonstrate good moral character, and pass criminal and security clearances. They must also either go to college or serve in the military for two years.
“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. What a waste it is to make it more difficult for children to go to college or get 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?
“The answer is that it does no good. It harms children who have done no wrong, and in the long run, it gravely harms our country’s economy. I so appreciate the work of Senator Durbin to bring this legislation to the floor. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that this important bipartisan bill does not go away. Now we must invoke cloture and pass it.
“If we do so, we will put the American Dream within reach for more children in Nevada and across America, who want nothing more than a fair chance at success. That would be an accomplishment we can all be proud of.”