Friday, October 24, 2008

October 24, 2007 -- A day DREAMers will never forget

Mr. President, what are we talking about here? We’re talking about children. Since when, in America, do we visit the sins and crimes of parents on children? If a parent commits a crime does that mean that the child goes to prison? If a parent disqualifies himself or herself from American citizenship, does that mean the child can never have a chance? Is that what America has come to?

Amidst the confusion and distortion and vitriol of this debate on immigration, since children like Marie Gonzales. She was brought to this country from Costa Rica by her parents at the age of ten. Her parents have been deported as illegals. Because I have made a special request she has been allowed to continue to finish her college education at Westminster College in Missouri. Her goal is to be an American and to give to the only country she has ever known. Costa Rica is not her country, America’s her country.

What we are talking about is turning these children out. Children with no country. And what sin, what crime did they commit? They obeyed their parents. They followed their parents. And for some that is going to be a mark of Cain on their heads forever in America. Is that what we’re all about?

Give these kids a chance. Meet them. Take the time to see these children. Many of us have. And what you’ll see in their eyes is the same kind of hope for this country that we want to see in our own children’s eyes. To be doctors and nurses and teachers, engineers, to find cures for diseases, to start businesses, the things that make America grow.

Give these kids a chance. Don’t take your anger out on illegal immigration on children who have nothing to say about this. They were brought to this country. They’ve lived a good life. They’ve proven themselves. They’ve beaten the odds. We need them.

And then they’ll turn around and tell me tomorrow that you need H1B visas to bring in talented people to America because we don’t have enough. Don’t tell me you need H2B and H2A and all the rest of them. No, if you’re going to turn away these children. If you’re going to say, “America doesn’t need you, go about your business, find someplace in the world.” Don’t come back to me and tell me we need a bigger labor pool and more talent in America.

How can we say no to hope? How can we say no to these kids when all they want is a piece of the American Dream? Please vote to proceed to the DREAM Act. I will work with Senator Hutchinson, a bipartisan amendment, we’ll do our best and I think we can come up with something. Give these kids a chance.

Today marks the anniversary of the DREAM Act defeat in the Senate. And while this day brings awful memories of that day, DREAMers all over the country are not giving up on the fight to make our dreams a reality. 2009 brings new hopes and opportunities. And I know that with the help of Sen. Durbin, we will finally be able to stop living in fear.

Thank you, Senator Durbin, for believing in us.

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