On Senate Floor, Cortez Masto Calls for Protections for Dreamers
“Nevadans sent me back to the Senate because they believe not only that I can reach across the aisle to make change, but that I will do it. They’ve seen me do it before, and they know I will work with anyone who’s willing to come to the table.
“But we need serious action from my colleagues, no matter what party they’re in. We need a real willingness to work together and to act on issues—like Dreamers, like border security. We can do both, and we can do right by so many and move this country forward.
“As long as I’m in the Senate, I’m going to be a voice for our Dreamers, because they are part of the fabric of Nevada and this country.”
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke on the Senate floor to advocate for meaningful, bipartisan action to protect our Dreamers, increase border security, and reform our broken immigration system.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a strong advocate for immigration reform that balances critical border security measures with a path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers. She has repeatedly advocated for protections for immigrant communities as well as long-term fixes to border security, including in direct talks with President Biden. Senator Cortez Masto has introduced her landmark immigration bill, the Fairness for Immigrant Families Act, aimed at updating important parts of our immigration system. She has also urged DHS officials to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling protecting DACA recipients. The first and only Latina Senator, Cortez Masto has consistently worked to protect DACA recipients, pushing back strongly against Trump administration efforts to terminate the program.
Below are her remarks as prepared for delivery:
Nevadans are frustrated.
Time and again over the last two decades, they’ve seen Congress work toward much-needed legislation on immigration, only for reasonable, bipartisan agreements to fall apart because someone is playing politics.
We saw this happen in the Senate just last week, when some of my colleagues drafted a bipartisan framework to give Dreamers a pathway to citizenship and increase our border security, to address what is happening at the southern border right now.
But just as we seemed to be closing in on a deal, it fell through once more.
That’s unacceptable. There is broad bipartisan consensus in my state that Congress must create a path to citizenship for Dreamers across the country.
It’s been over two decades since legislation was first introduced to protect people who were brought to this country as children and who love the only home they’ve ever known.
And it’s been over a decade since the creation of the DACA program, which protects some but not all of our Dreamers. What’s more, the program continues to face legal challenges, and that has left Nevada Dreamers in a terrifying limbo.
Without full legal protections, Dreamers can’t reach their full potential, even though many of them have had incredible successes thanks in part to DACA.
There are 12,000 DACA recipients in Nevada alone, and many thousands more Dreamers. They are teachers, business owners, and health care professionals. They go to work and school every day. They pay taxes, care for their families, and contribute to our communities.
All over this country, Dreamers enrich our nation. Dreamers deserve a path to citizenship. Not sometime in the future. Not in some future Congress. Now.
People on both sides of the aisle know this. That’s why we’ve been close to compromise so frequently—and so frustratingly. But I know it is possible to come together on a compromise that supports Dreamers and increases border security. There are commonsense reforms that people across the political spectrum approve of.
The truth is that there’s no need for us to have face one crisis after another on our southern border. We could solve this problem by working together—but partisan finger-pointing and blame games keep us from getting it done.
I’ve said it over and over—we can have a humane border policy that also protects our security. We can and must do both. It’s past time for Congress to put politics aside and do what needs to be done.
That’s especially true now, after tremendous change in America and across the world since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, workers retired, immigration slowed, and labor markets tightened as a result. This country needs workers in industries from the tech sector to agriculture to home health care and child care, and we need them badly. According to the Department of Labor, the U.S. has a labor shortfall of roughly 3.5 million people.
And we’re feeling this shortfall. Every week I hear from business owners in Nevada who tell me about their struggle to find employees. Comprehensive immigration reforms would let us welcome workers in a way that benefits our society and our economy and treats those who want to come to America with dignity.
And yet we’re not enacting them. The last time Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform was when Ronald Reagan was president. That’s ridiculous.
Nevadans sent me back to the Senate because they believe not only that I can reach across the aisle to make change, but that I will do it. They’ve seen me do it before, and they know I will work with anyone who’s willing to come to the table.
But we need serious action from my colleagues, no matter what party they’re in. We need a real willingness to work together and to act on issues—like Dreamers, like border security. We can do both, and we can do right by so many and move this country forward.
As long as I’m in the Senate, I’m going to be a voice for our Dreamers, because they are part of the fabric of Nevada and this country.
And I’ll work with anyone to fix our broken immigration system and make sure we can keep our border secure. Because that’s what Nevadans want us to do.
I know so many of my colleagues in the Senate feel the same. It’s time to stop playing politics and make a real difference for our Dreamers, our families, our businesses, and communities all along our border.
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