A Brief and Passionate History of How We Got Here in the DACA Debate

Sep 6, 2017
6:26 PM

This happened Wednesday afternoon on the floor of House of Representatives. Let Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) explain:

Floor Remarks:
September 6, 2017

How did we get here?

In December of 2010, the House passed the DREAM Act. Right here on this floor.

Almost all of the Democrats voted for it and a handful of Republicans did too.

The goal was to legalize immigrants who had grown up in the U.S., had lived here a long time, had achieved goals in education and had no way of getting legal immigration status unless Congress took action.

Way back in 2001, I had introduced the first bill to legalize immigrant youth, so it took almost 10 years until it passed the House in 2010.

And later that same week, there was a vote in the Senate and 55 out of 100 Senators voted for cloture on the DREAM Act to legalize the status of undocumented immigrant youth.

And we know you need 60 votes in the Senate to move something forward, so the DREAM Act was blocked —even though it got a majority of the votes— because of a filibuster led by Republicans.

And not just any Republican, but the leader of the opposition to the DREAM Act was none other than Jeff Sessions.

So yesterday, the President, unwilling to go out in front of cameras and announce he was killing the DACA program himself, sent Jeff Sessions out to tell 800,000 immigrants, we don’t want you here anymore.

Included in the announcement was a half-hearted sales pitch for Congress to pass legislation, but remember, when Sessions had a chance to do that, he led the fight to stop it. That is hypocrisy on steroids.

So, President Obama finally took the only action he could take two years later and crafted a narrowly defined program called DACA that has never been successfully challenged in court.

DACA recipients are teachers, nurses, and one is even a Chicago policeman who straps on his gun and badge to protect people every day During Hurricane Harvey, DREAMers with DACA were first responders and volunteers and those who gave their lives to save others, like Alonso Guillen of Lufkin, Texas.

Look, we want a clean DREAM Act—up or down vote.

And Democrats, let’s be clear. This is a crisis that requires swift passage of legislation to fix it—as big a priority as anything else we need to pass this month. Our votes are needed on the debt ceiling, on this bill, and on the CR, and what are we getting for our votes?

When the CEO of Microsoft says you can only take my DREAMers with DACA by coming through me first, that is a challenge to every policymaker in this chamber.

When will we throw down and say no, you can’t have our votes unless you give us the DREAM Act?

When will we say you cannot have our votes unless we can bring 800,000 young lives along with us?

Let’s demand a vote on the DREAM Act. We can pass it right here, right now and give our young people —the future of our nation— the safety and security they need and deserve to continue contributing to the United States, the only country most of them have ever known.