September 07, 2017

VIDEO: Udall Speaks on Senate Floor Against President Trump's Decision to Rescind DACA and Put Thousands of Dreamers at Risk of Deportation

Told stories of NM Dreamers who are among the 8,000 in New Mexico at risk if a fix for Trump’s heartless decision cannot be found

 VIDEO: https://www.facebook.com/senatortomudall/videos/10155489526822870/

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall spoke on the Senate floor to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act and codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), after President Trump announced he would end the program, which has allowed 800,000 young people — and almost 8,000 New Mexicans — to get legal status so they can work and go to school. In his speech, Udall told the stories of promising young New Mexicans who have gained legal status through DACA and have been able to reunite with family, obtain work permits, plan for the future, and pursue their dreams of obtaining a college degree. These driven and patriotic young people and their families are now at risk due to Trump’s heartless decision.

In his speech, Udall urged Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers from the administration's harmful decision saying, "I call on all members of Congress – especially the Republican leadership — to act now, and act swiftly — to keep families together and allow these kids to realize their huge potential by making DACA the law of the land. If the president won’t do the right thing, then Congress must."

Udall told the story of several young Dreamers in New Mexico, including Roxana, a medical assistant at La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe, whose plan to go to nursing school has been on hold since Trump's announcement. He also talked about Brandon, a young Dreamer who works to support his family and is earning a degree in architecture from New Mexico State University, and Carlos, a volunteer firefighter who has a job and is studying at NMSU to become a mechanical engineer.

"Most Americans agree that our nation benefits from the contributions immigrants make in our communities and our economy. They believe that our government should honor its promise to Dreamers. Many of these young people came here as small children and have not known any other country," Udall said. "There are 800,000 young people like Roxana, Brandon, and Carlos hoping to do their part to make our country strong. By any measure, DACA has been a huge success. We already have the outlines of a program that works for America…. We must make sure that America 'truly does belong' to Roxana and all of our Dreamers."

The full text of Udall’s remarks is available below.

Mr. President, thank you for your recognition. I'm honored to come here and follow Senator Leahy and Senator Kaine, and their speeches on DACA. But I've also watched it over the last couple of days, and I think almost every Democratic senator has been down here on the floor to speak with passion about this issue. I'm just so proud of our caucus and our members that have stood up and called the president on this issue.

Mr. President. Today I stand with millions of Americans protesting the president’s heartless decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. His inhumane and cruel decision threatens the hopes and aspirations of our country’s young Dreamers — and there is no doubt — will harm our economy.

I call on all members of Congress — especially the Republican leadership — to act now, and act swiftly — to keep families together and allow these kids to realize their huge potential by making DACA the law of the land. That's what we need to do — make DACA the law of the land. If the president won’t do the right thing, then Congress must.

Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across New Mexico and throughout our country agree that Dreamers deserve to live and work in the United States. According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released this week, 76 percent support allowing them to stay: 76 percent — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

Most Americans agree that our nation benefits from the contributions immigrants make in our communities and our economy. They believe that our government should honor its promise to Dreamers. Many of these young people came here as small children and have not known any other country.

Take Roxana. Roxana came to Santa Fe, New Mexico, when she was 1 year old. She's now 22. Roxana registered with DACA as soon as she could. She completed the paperwork, paid the fee, and she has complied with all of the requirements.

She now works as a medical assistant with La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe.

La Familia is a great health clinic. It provides excellent medical care to everyone in Santa Fe, including many immigrants and low-income patients. Roxana loves her work at La Familia and she loves being able to help her fellow immigrants.

Roxana had plans to go to nursing school, but the president’s action to end DACA jeopardizes those plans and puts them on hold.

In Roxana’s words, “Santa Fe, New Mexico, is my home. It’s where I know people. It’s where I’ve lived. It’s where I’ve gone to school. It’s where I’ve grown up. It’s my life. It’s something that is mine but doesn’t truly belong to me.” Those are her words.

We must give Roxana and the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers what should truly belong to them.

Dreamers more than pull their economic weight in our country: 97 percent are employed or are in school — or do both.

They work in Fortune 500 companies and public schools. They labor on farms and dairies. They create businesses, volunteer in our communities, pay taxes, and pay into Social Security and Medicare. Why would we choose to kick some of our most talented, and most productive workers out of the country? Why kick some of our best and brightest young people out of this country?

Ending DACA would cause chaos for employers. Forcing these motivated young people out of work could cost us 700,000 jobs — as many as 30,000 a month. That adds up to $460.3 billion dollars in economic output over the next 10 years. Medicare and Social Security contributions could drop by $24.6 billion dollars over the same period of time.

One of those young people who contributes in New Mexico is Brandon. Brandon came with his mother from Mexico to the United States when he was 2 years old. Brandon goes to college, studies every day to be an architect, and he makes straight A’s.

He holds down a job to help support his family with medical bills and volunteers in his community. Brandon is grateful for the DACA program that has given him the opportunity to work and pay taxes. Yes – he is grateful to pay taxes.

This president continues to divide our country like no other president we have known. Every day it is clearer that his values are not in line with ours. I increasingly believe he's not fit to lead this great nation.

His campaign began with anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric. He accused Mexican immigrants of being “rapists” and “criminals," and his bigoted words have never stopped.

He has called for a wall along the entire border with Mexico – a wall that would cost billions of tax dollars and which border communities don’t want.

He called for a ban on Muslim refugees – turning our backs on people who are fighting terrorism and who value the freedoms we have here in the United States.

He tacitly accepted the support of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and bigots in Charlottesville.

And he pardoned a law enforcement officer who terrorized the Latino community in Maricopa County, Arizona, with unconstitutional raids and who forced detainees into inhumane living situations. Joe Arpaio is not a “good guy,” as President Trump called him. Joe Arpaio is the criminal.

This president doesn’t seem to value – let alone embody – the principles that America stands for.

And now he wants to kick out of the country young people who do value this country – like Carlos, here. Carlos was brought to New Mexico from Mexico when he was less than 1 year old. New Mexico is the only home he has known.

Because of Carlos’ immigration status, his opportunities were limited. He couldn’t play sports in school, couldn’t go on field trips — even though he pledged allegiance to the United States with his classmates.

Carlos registered with DACA two years ago. And — in his words — he was given “wings.” He is a fulltime student at New Mexico State University studying to be a mechanical engineer. He volunteers as firefighter, he works as a server at a local restaurant, and he began a drive to help Hurricane Harvey victims.

Carlos says, “We as Dreamers have proven ourselves to be worthy of being here in the United States.”

There are 800,000 young people like Roxana, Brandon, and Carlos hoping to do their part to make our country strong.

By any measure, DACA has been a huge success.

We already have the outlines of a program that works for America. We in Congress must roll up our sleeves, and make this program the law of the land, and we must make sure that America “truly does belong” to Roxana and all of our Dreamers.