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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the DREAM Act. This legislation is critically important. Not only is this a humanitarian issue, but also an economic and security issue. In order to compete in a 21st century world, we must provide education opportunities to all of our students.

Our current laws unfairly penalize thousands of young adults, many of whom know only the United States as home, denying them the opportunity to achieve the American dream. Current law paralyzes the lives of these young people, effectively banning them from college and the military.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has publically advocated in support of the DREAM Act, calling it crucial to our national security and our ability to compete in the global marketplace in the coming generations. In a time when our military is strained because of demands in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places of concern around the world, we should be allowing all of our best and our brightest to serve.

The DREAM Act allows young people with good moral character who attend college or provide significant service to our military with an earned path to citizenship. These are young people who received all their education in the United States and know only the United States as home. We need comprehensive immigration reform, but this is an instance where current law is unfairly penalizing thousands of young adults who did nothing wrong.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight the story of a young New Yorker who exemplifies the DREAM Act. Cesar Vargas was brought by his parents to the United States when he was only 5 years old. It was not his decision to come here, but he grew up in New York, graduated from high school, completed college, and is now in his final year of school at City University of New York School of Law, with a 3.8 GPA. He dreams of becoming a military lawyer after he graduates. But, he cannot fulfill his dream of serving in our military because he is undocumented. Our country would benefit from the dedication of young men and women like Cesar, who grew up as our neighbors and our children's class mates and friends--young men and women who want to serve this great nation of immigrants and give back to the country they call home.

This legislation creates opportunities for young people who did not come here on their own choosing, and ensures that they will become productive members of our society. For these reasons, I support this measure and I implore my colleagues in the Senate to vote in support of this measure, as well.

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