Thursday June 13th, 2024

Ahead of 12th Anniversary of DACA, Cortez Masto Calls on Colleagues to Pass Bipartisan Legislation Protecting Dreamers

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the Senate floor today urging her colleagues to protect Dreamers. In her remarks, Cortez Masto called out her Republicans colleagues for stalling the Dream Act, bipartisan legislation supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans that would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

The first and only Latina Senator, Senator Cortez Masto has consistently pushed to fix our broken immigration system by balancing critical border security measures with a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers. She’s an original cosponsor of the Dream Act to provide relief for DACA recipients, and she’s leading legislation to allow them to work in Congress. She successfully pushed the administration to expand health care access for DACA recipients, and she’s led calls to address delays in DACA renewal applications and make it easier for mixed status families, family caregivers, and hardworking immigrant families to stay together.

Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:

Madam President, this Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.

This policy has given hope to so many hardworking individuals who call America home. It’s allowed children of immigrants who were brought here as kids to flourish, strengthen our economy, and remain in the only country they’ve ever really known.

When President Obama created DACA in 2012, it was a temporary solution focused on helping young people thrive. With the establishment of DACA, we told them that if they stayed in school, worked hard, and contributed, we’d help them stay here. That was a real promise that gave so much hope to thousands of amazing young people.

Now, it’s been 12 years, and DACA recipients have done what they promised to do.

They’ve gone to college, they’ve become part of our workforce, they pay billions of dollars in taxes. Listen to this: 49% of the initial group of DACA recipients in 2012 are college educated. As of 2023, there are over 544,000 DACA recipients in the United States. 10,730 of them live in my home state of Nevada.

But Dreamers aren’t percentages and figures. They’re people. I’ve had the honor of meeting many of them. And let me tell you, these Nevadans make our state stronger. They’re teachers, doctors, engineers, small business owners, and community leaders. They have families. And they’ve spent the last 12 years holding up their end of the bargain. It’s past time for us to hold up ours.

This has been especially urgent in recent years, when litigation challenging DACA and attacks on the program by former President Trump and his allies have caused turmoil for Dreamers in this country. By failing to pass legislation to permanently protect Dreamers and put them on a path to citizenship, we are failing to fulfill our promise to these individuals. We are leaving them behind.

We know that their status in this country, their safety and stability in their homes, could change soon because of lawsuits that are still making their way through our courts. Dreamers abide by our laws, they’ve worked hard for an education, and they contribute to their communities every day. They’ve earned their place in our country and deserve the privilege, protection, and responsibility of citizenship.

Now is the time to pass the Dream Act to ensure Dreamers can continue contributing to the only home they’ve ever known without living in fear that their lives may be upended.

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to this: my colleagues on the other side of the aisle need to step up and keep their word to pass a permanent solution for Dreamers.

I wish I didn’t have to stand here and give this speech. This is supposed to be a bipartisan issue that we all can get behind. The American people certainly feel that way. But we’re running into the same issue over and over again.

How many times have I stood right here on the Senate floor and told stories about the Dreamers I know? How many times have I called for the Dream Act to pass and pushed to give Dreamers the certainty they deserve?

I want to be honest to the Dreamers in my state and around the country. The reason we haven’t passed that legislation in the Senate yet is because we need bipartisan support.

Some Senate Republicans have said over and over that we need to fix DACA and protect Dreamers. So where are they now? They’re turning their backs on people who are depending on them. Because the reality is that far-right extremists are only interested in Dreamers when they can use them as political pawns.

First, some Republicans said they needed to pair a solution for Dreamers with border security. Then, they claimed they want border security first, then they’ll help Dreamers.

We had a real proposal to support border security and protect Dreamers in 2018 and Trump said he’d sign it…then he changed his mind. And just this year, we had bipartisan legislation to secure our border that was endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council. But former President Trump had Senate Republicans tank the bill so he could campaign on it.

I’m here on the Senate floor today because I’m frustrated. I’m angry that politics are causing so many Dreamers across the country to put their lives on hold. It’s unacceptable.

The time for stalling is over. It’s time for my Republican colleagues to uphold their end of the deal and protect Dreamers. Because while they tie themselves in knots and play political games, hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance.

Enough is enough. Let’s come together on this and work out a solution that’s going to help Dreamers and continue to benefit our country. In 12 years, it’s the least we can do for a generation of people who have given everything they have to the United States. I, for one, won’t stop trying.



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