Statement On The Supreme Court Argument To Decide Future Of America's Dreamers

Congressional Record

Today the Supreme Court heard arguments in one of the most consequential immigration cases in modern American history.  The future of more than 700,000 DACA recipients – our nation’s Dreamers – hangs in the balance.  And their fate is inherently intertwined with the fate of the American Dream itself.

Dreamers, by definition, are law-abiding immigrants brought to the United States as children – through no choice of their own – now simply seeking the chance to contribute to the only country they have ever known as home.  Dreamers, by definition, do not pose any kind of public safety or national security threat.  They are our neighbors, our first responders, our defenders, and our teachers.  Nearly a thousand Dreamers serve in our armed forces, risking their lives to preserve the freedoms of millions of American citizens.  Dreamers are Americans in every way, except on paper.  Americans know this, and have roundly rejected the baseless, un-American vitriol spread by President Trump – yet again this morning, just hours before the argument – that some Dreamers are “hardened criminals.”

So it is no wonder that the overwhelming majority of Americans support providing legal protections to our nation’s Dreamers.  And it is no surprise that leaders of industry in every major sector of our economy have called for providing legal status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, recognizing their enormous contributions to our economy.

The depth of opposition to President Trump’s decision to heartlessly terminate DACA is matched only by the breadth of agreement among courts that the Trump administration is just plain wrong on the law.  Five out of six federal courts that considered the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA blocked President Trump from actually doing so.  And they have rejected the Trump administration’s laughable argument that its decision to end DACA is simply unreviewable by the courts.  

I am hopeful that the Supreme Court sides with the near unanimous consensus among lower courts.  I am hopeful that it joins the united chorus of Americans who envision a legally protected place in our society for this group of immigrants that embodies the American Dream.

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, Congress is by no means a bystander.  Congress still has the authority – and the responsibility – to do what is right.

Just a few months ago, the House passed a bipartisan bill, the American Dream and Promise Act, which would enact critical protections for Dreamers and provide temporary safe haven to targeted groups of immigrants whose home countries have been crippled by natural disasters or civil conflict.  The Senate could easily take up this bill today.  Or it could take up the bipartisan Senate bill, the Dream Act of 2019, authored by Senators Graham and Durbin, which would provide meaningful safeguards to our Dreamers.  Either way, Senate inaction is simply not acceptable to the millions of Americans in both parties who see the prospect of mass deportations of Dreamers as antithetical to who we are as the United States of America.  

As we wait for our nation’s highest court to rule on this case, it is essential for Americans to express their views about the future of Dreamers to their elected representatives.  This case, after all, is not just about the specific Dreamers who would benefit from DACA’s continued existence, and it not just about the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant impulses and policies.  This is about whether our proud past as a nation of immigrants and refugees – a country that became one out of many – has a bright future.  That future should not be left solely to the courts.  Nor should it be left to languish in Majority Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard.  This future will be shaped, in part, by what we choose to do now, in the present.  And it is beyond time for the Senate to come together and do what is right.  

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