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Public Statements

Immigration Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Rhode Island, and I thank the Presiding Officer. I wish to join my colleague, Senator Schumer, first thanking him for his leadership and bringing us together. With Senator McCain, they led the eight-Senator effort to put together this comprehensive immigration bill which was enacted by the Senate today by a vote of 68 to 32. Many thanks go around.

I have acknowledged the other Senators who are part of that gang, but I wanted to give special recognition to four of my staffers who worked overtime and did an extraordinary effort to put this bill together: First and foremost, Joe Zogby, my chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was there at the creation of the DREAM Act, and he has been with me ever since, some 12 years of dedicated effort to pass this legislation on the floor of the Senate, and we did it today. It never would have happened if Joe hadn't devoted so much energy and talent into making this day possible. I also will tell my colleagues that his name is well known among those who are DREAMers. So many times Joe has saved them from deportation when they were just minutes or days away from that happening. He has a heart of gold and a great mind, and I am lucky to have him.

Mara Silver, an extraordinary lawyer who took on aspects of this bill that were tough, including refugee and asylee sections that have virtually no constituency. There are sections of the law that affect some of the most downtrodden people on Earth who face oppression in other countries. She came to it with the heart of a lion and came through with some provisions that will give many of these asylees and refugees their chance to prove they need help and deserve help in the United States.

And Vaishalee Yeldandi and Stephanie Trifone, who sat through meeting after weary meeting putting together the provisions we needed to work out. I can't say enough for the staff people when they do this type of Olympic and heroic effort, as under this comprehensive immigration reform. I am fortunate to have an exceptional staff both in the State and back in Washington.

Those four deserve special recognition today for the extraordinary job they did.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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