Schumer Remarks on DACA and the Need to Pass a Clean DREAM Act

September 6, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the consequences of ending DACA and the responsibility of Congress to put a clean DREAM act on the floor in September.  Below are his remarks:

First, I want to thank my colleague from Hawaii for her outstanding words.  She comes from a state, like mine that thrives on diversity -- welcoming people from all corners of the globe and making us stronger -- and she’s a symbol of that herself as well as all the wonderful people she represents in Hawaii.

Now, I rise this afternoon alongside my colleague from Hawaii, my colleague from Washington State, and others to make a case for a swift passage of the DREAM Act.

800,000 Dreamers are living in our country today. Hardworking folks who came to this country through no fault of their own. To many, America is the only country they’ve ever known. And more than that, they contribute so much to our country.

The work in our companies, go to our schools, even serve in our military. All they want is to live and work and contribute to our great country.

Why wouldn’t we want them to?

The president’s decision yesterday to end DACA threw their futures into doubt, threatening to rip apart families and telling people who have worked so hard to become Americans that they have to leave the country.

The president’s DACA decision is also bad economics. It would deprive thousands of employers who rely on these hard workers.

The libertarian-leaning Cato Institute estimates that ending DACA would cost employers $2 billion over two years alone. The Center for American Progress found that it would drain $433 billion from our GDP over 10 years.

And that’s why more than 500 business leaders, some of the leading businesspeople in our country, have signed onto a letter in defense of DACA. That’s why Microsoft recently said that protecting the Dreamers was their number one legislative goal, greater than a cut to the corporate tax rate. That’s how much the Dreamers mean to them personally and to their bottom lines.

Mr. President, the economic consequence of ending DACA would be far reaching and likely devastating.

There would also be a devastating moral cost if we didn’t pass the DREAM Act to protect these kids.

I’m reminded of a young woman named Kirssy Martinez, who was brought to this country from the Dominican Republic as a very young child and grew up in my city, in the borough of the Bronx. After graduating high school in New York City, Kirssy was stuck in the shadows. She worked small jobs as a waitress and a babysitter. Though she was a good student coming out of high school and even had a few scholarship offers, she couldn’t attend college because she didn’t have a green card.

The DACA program granted her temporary legal status. She worked hard to scrape enough together in loans, and she enrolled in Bronx Community College.

A few years ago, I spoke at her graduation, where she was the co-valedictorian of her class.  I saw her; I watched her.  What a wonderful young lady.  She had a perfect GPA: 4.0.

Now, Kirssy represents what we think of as the best of our country. She is part of what makes America great. Like generations before her, she wants to study hard, work hard, and give back to her community. What kind of country would we be, what kind of country have we become, if we say that Kirssy, and 800,000 hardworking folks just like her, are not welcome here?

So Mr. President, Congress has a responsibility to act, and I know you see it that way as well, and I very much appreciate it. We should do as soon as we can, whatever we can.

So I repeat what I said to the Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House this morning at the White House: put a clean DREAM Act on the floor of both Houses. It would receive bipartisan support and I believe it would pass by significant margins in each House. We could remove the fear of deportation and give peace of mind to 800,000 Dreamers, if only our leadership put the bills on the floor, it’s that simple.

And if we don’t see a clean DREAM Act in September, we, as the minority here, are prepared to attach it to legislative vehicles in the fall until it passes.

These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts; they ought to become Americans in the books of law as well. And we Democrats will not rest until that happens.