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Public Statements

DREAM Act Becoming a Reality

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GUTIERREZ. Mr. Speaker, I believe there is no greater cause for celebration in America than when we expand rights to more of our people. We are never truer to our American values than when we look at a group of people and demand that they be treated with dignity and respect. We are never more patriotic than when we protect and expand the rights of honest, hardworking people, when we live up to our original promise of liberty and equality and give meaning to those American words: ``We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.''

Right now, we have reasons to celebrate because, shortly, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House are scheduled to announce guidelines on the application process for DREAM Act-eligible immigrants to defer deportation and get work permits so they can take a vital step toward living freely and fully in the only nation that has ever truly been their home.

Today, I want to congratulate the DREAM Act-eligible youth who have fought so hard for this right, the 1 million of them that will be taking a step forward. And I want to remind DREAM Act-eligible youth that because of the intelligent action by President Obama on August 15, they will be able to apply for work permits and protection from deportation.

On August 15, Mr. Speaker, they will take a step out of the shadows and into the light. I encourage them to take this step, and I want them to know that help and resources are available. But first, a warning: any progress on immigration is soon followed by some unscrupulous attempts to make money off the backs of deserving immigrants. So I say to my friends today: Be careful.

There is no reason that applying for relief through President Obama's use of prosecutorial discretion should be expensive or cumbersome. If someone says the only way for a DREAMer to apply is to write a big check, my advice to the DREAMer is they should run in the other direction; they are being lied to. But DREAMers should run toward help because help is on the way.

In Chicago yesterday, the Illinois Coalition for Immigration and Refugee Rights and I announced a workshop that will be held on August 15--the very first day the 1 million young people can apply for work permits and come out of the shadows and get deferred action from deportation.

The event will be held at Navy Pier in Chicago. Mayor Emanuel, myself, and Senator Durbin--who has played such a leadership role on the DREAM Act for years--will be there. We will have all the resources anyone needs to apply that day. It will be free. We will answer questions and we will provide the resources necessary to thousands of young people that we expect will attend.

And we are not alone in Chicago. All across the country, plans are being made by immigrant advocates and organizations and elected officials for how to help DREAM Act-eligible youth to apply for their work permits and a stay of deportation. Tomorrow, I will be joined by my colleagues to talk about resources available coast to coast.

As one important step, I encourage people to visit this Web site: dreamrelief.org. That's dreamrelief.org to find out more about who is eligible, how to apply, and where people can receive assistance, dreamrelief.org.

On August 15, across America, thousands of honest, hardworking, law-abiding DREAM Act-eligible youth immigrants should be celebrating by lining up and taking that historic step toward equality. It's a day of long-overdue fairness for our young people, and I don't want one eligible young person to miss this opportunity.

I want our young DREAMers to demonstrate to America on August 15 what they've demonstrated to their communities and their families and their friends their entire lives: they've worked hard and earned this right by excelling in school, by helping their neighborhoods, and by serving our Nation.

I know who you are--you are the next generation of leaders of our great Nation. On August 15, show all of America who you are. We need your example because it's vital to remember that every time we've expanded civil rights in America--every time--someone tried to stand in the way. From women's suffrage, to voting rights for African Americans, to Americans with disabilities, to marriage equality, someone will raise their voice against expanding the rights enjoyed by some Americans to all Americans. There is always someone who says these rights, these liberties, this equality, it's for me, it's not for you.

So I ask my DREAM Act-eligible friends--1 million strong--on August 15, show America who you are and remind America that freedom and equality is for all of us.


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