Harris: I’ll Oppose End-of-Year Spending Bill if DACA Not Fixed
Calls for path to citizenship to protect Dreamers
WASHINGTON – Speaking at a press conference alongside a group of Senate and House Democrats, and University Presidents and Chancellors in support of the Dream Act, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris today pledged to vote against any end-of-year spending bill if it does not include a solution for the more than 700,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Harris said, “I’m very proud to stand with my colleagues and our great educational institutions to say that we are committed and we are joined in standing with these DACA young people and standing for them in the fight to make sure that we do the right thing. And let me be clear. I will not vote for an end-of-year spending bill until we are clear about what we are going to do to protect and take care of our DACA young people in this country.”
Harris was joined at the press conference by Gary May, Chancellor of the University of California, Davis. UC Davis is one of the 10 campuses that make up the University of California school system, which represents nearly 265,000 students including a population of 4,000 undocumented students, a significant number of which are DACA recipients.
Full remarks as delivered below:
I want to thank Dick Durbin for his longstanding leadership on this issue and Senator Schumer who I know was here, and all of my California colleagues.
Yes, California has the largest number of Dreamers and DACA young people. We have an outsized stake in the outcome of this conversation. And I have over many years met with our Dreamers and most recently in the last 10 months met with these young people who are terrified. They are terrified. And because I, like my colleagues, am a public face of this conversation, they approach me in all kinds of places wherever I am, and they come to me and talk about their experience and their fears. It is often the case that they will then break down and sob almost uncontrollably because they are terrified. They are terrified.
They don’t know what their future will be for the next couple of weeks or months. And these are young people who are in our colleges, and we have our great educational institutions that we are very proud of in California and New York here. They are in our colleges, they are in graduate school. They are serving in the military. They are working in Fortune 100 companies. They are contributing. And they’re playing by the rules.
We, as the United States government said to these young people who applied for DACA, “You give us your information. Give us an opportunity to vet who you are, to look into your background, the circumstances of your arrival. Who are your parents, what are you going, have you committed any crimes, are you productive?” We looked into their backgrounds. We asked them for their personal information and then we told them we will not share that information with ICE. In essence, you will not be deported if you play by the rules. And so we have hundreds of thousands of young people in our country right now who took us at our word and trusted the government of the United States that if they play by the rules, we will not share their information with ICE. And now, the United States government is saying we are not prepared to keep our word. We are not prepared to keep our commitment. And that is simply wrong. It is wrong because we should keep our word. And it is wrong because we certainly are not role modeling what we expect of the young people in our country, which is that you follow through on a commitment, you follow through on a promise.
So right now we are at a moment in time where we have got to understand that this is something we cannot play politics with, when we have hundreds of thousands of young people who are terrified because we have not been able to keep our word. That tells us all we’ve got some work to do.
And I’m very proud to stand with my colleagues and our great educational institutions to say that we are committed and we are joined in standing with these DACA young people and standing for them in the fight to make sure that we do the right thing. And let me be clear. I will not vote for an end-of-year spending bill until we are clear about what we are going to do to protect and take care of our DACA young people in this country.
And I thank all my colleagues for their leadership. Each day in the life of these young people is a very long time and we’ve got to stop playing politics with their lives. We need to let them focus on what we want them to do, which is to study, which is to focus on inventing the next thing, focus on what they’re prepared to do to put their lives on the line for our country in the military. Let’s leave these kids alone and give them a path to citizenship and let’s do the right thing. Thank you.
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