video: Warren Discuses DACA, Urges Passage of Dream Act

Thursday, September 07, 2017
GoLocalWorcester Political Team

Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren discussed President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in a floor speech on Wednesday.

She also discussed the importance of passing the dream act.

Read her Speech Below

Our country is in trouble.  America-and this government right here in Washington-works great for people at the top, works great for corporations that can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers.  But for everyone else, America isn't working so well.

For decades now, expenses have gone up while wages have been flat. Economic opportunity is slipping away from too many Americans. And we know how to fix what's happening - by kicking the lobbyists, and the lawyers, and the rich donors and the giant companies out of the room, and putting working families first again.

The President of the United States isn't interested in doing that. His first major legislative initiative was to try to boot tens of millions of people off their health insurance.  His second major legislative initiative is to try to give giant tax breaks to rich folks and enormous corporations while working people pay for it.

I suppose it's not surprising that the President has no intention of helping working families. After all, he IS a rich donor, and he personally profits every single day from a giant company that he named after himself.

So here's Donald Trump-a man who promised over and over during the presidential campaign that he would be on the side of working people-here's Donald Trump doing the exact opposite of what he told the American people he would do. It's the exact opposite of what the American people need him to do. And sooner or later, it's going to catch up with him.

President Trump wants to delay that reckoning for as long as possible. And from the day he first announced his presidential campaign, it's been obvious how he plans to do it - by turning us against each another. By telling everyone that the real problem in America is the neighbor who doesn't look like you, the co-worker who doesn't worship like you, the guy in the grocery store who doesn't sound like you.

Nowhere has this been more obvious than on the politics of race. In November, President Trump named Jeff Sessions - the man considered too racist to be a federal judge - as our nation's Attorney General. In January, President Trump rolled out an unconstitutional Muslim ban. And in August, after white supremacists marched in the streets, President Trump defended hate.  And, also in August, he used his first presidential pardon to shield a racist former sheriff who broke the law.

Yesterday morning, the President continued his campaign to turn us against each other when he decided to end the DACA program. Now, DACA gives 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children the chance to live, work, get an education and become valuable members of our society. The President said he would end the program. That means over 800,000 young people who've been here their entire lives, who came out of the shadows to contribute to our economy, could be deported to countries they barely know.

Divide and conquer is an old story in America. It's a cold political calculation, and those with money and power have used it time and time again to keep us fighting with each other - fighting over religion, fighting over race, fighting over anything that keeps us from coming together to fight back against a rigged system.

President Trump wants us to turn our backs on 800,000 Dreamers, including nearly 8,000 Dreamers in Massachusetts.  He doesn't want us to look at these young people and see them for who they are. He just wants us to see them as threats.  After all, he launched his campaign by calling immigrants rapists and criminals, and that's exactly what he wants everyone else to see.

I wanted to introduce three Dreamers from Massachusetts and let the American people decide if that's true.

Reina Guevara fled from El Salvador when she was only 11 years old. She's a model student.  She won a scholarship, and right now she is working on her Bachelor's degree at UMass Boston. Before the DACA program allowed her to come out of the shadows, Reina worked up to 70 hours a week in a restaurant for a boss who sexually harassed her. On multiple occasions he propositioned her to have a sexual relationship with him, threatening to call immigration on her if she refused his advances. The harassment became so frequent and so bad that Reina decided to quit her job, forgoing critical income. Knowing there was no one for her to tell, her boss refused to pay her for her last two weeks of work.

Reina was an easy target. A woman without official immigration status was a woman who couldn't complain to HR when she was assaulted, underpaid, or made to work in dangerous conditions. A woman without immigration status was a woman who knew that speaking up could mean immediate deportation.

When Reina entered the DACA program, her life changed. It meant she could stand up for herself without being afraid that she would be kicked out of America.

I asked Reina what DACA means to her. This is what she told me: "DACA to me means the opportunity to be the first one in my family to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree. To work without the fear of being humiliated and exploited due to my status."

But Donald Trump wants Reina banished from our country. 

Bruno Villegas McCubbin was six years old when he left his home. Like most parents, Bruno's mother and father wanted to keep their children safe. That wasn't easy when Peru's economy collapsed. Bruno's father, a traveling salesman, was forced to travel to more remote and dangerous places. It got so dangerous that on one trip, he was attacked by armed robbers and injured by flying glass from gunshots. After that, Bruno's parents decided that should escape to America. 

Bruno's family settled in Garden Grove, California, where Bruno, his sister and his parents shared one room in his uncle's two-bedroom apartment. Bruno's parents-who had white-collar jobs in Peru-worked 12-hour days in low-wage jobs just to keep food on the table.

While his parents were hard at work, Bruno was building dreams. He threw himself into his studies, and when he graduated from high school, he was second in his class. But Bruno did a lot more than just study.  He founded an organization to help struggling students. He served as a tutor. He played the saxophone.

Bruno was in high school when the DACA program began. And today, he's a junior at Harvard, where he serves as a student coordinator for the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, which provide financial aid information to promising high school students from low-income families.

I asked Bruno what DACA means to him. He said: "It means the opportunity for many of us to work here legally and achieve the American Dream that this country still boasts, so we can then give back to our families that have sacrificed so much for us, and to the country that helped form us into what we are today."

But Donald Trump wants Bruno banished from our country. 

I could do this all night, but others want a chance to tell stories as well, so I'll do just one more: Elias Rosenfeld. Like Bruno, Elias was six years old when his parents brought him and his sister to the United States. He remembers hearing stories every day of violence in Venezuela: a gun pulled on his mother while her car was at a stoplight; his grandfather robbed after making a bank withdrawal. To keep her kids safe, Elias's mother transferred to a company in Miami on a visa that allows executives and managers from other countries to work in the United States and then to apply for permanent resident status. Only she never got the chance to apply for permanent resident status. When Elias was 11, his mother died of cancer. When he lost his mother, Elias lost his protected status, without even knowing it.

In high school, Elias took tough classes, including 13 Advanced Placement courses. He worked hard, he earned nearly straight As.  He served in student government and on the speech and debate teams. He volunteered with the Children's Trust and also with the Homeless Trust. The activities director at Elias's high school called Elias his "hero." He said, and I quote: "I've been teaching for 20 years and I have never seen a student like this young man."

Elias's commitment to academic excellence earned him a Myra Kraft Transitional Year Program Scholarship to attend Brandeis University.

Earlier this year, Elias worked as an intern in my office.  I asked Elias what DACA means to him. He said it's been a "source of optimism and a light of protection."  He wrote: "For years, before DACA arrived I would sleep in bed at night with a constant fear of deportation, imagining in my head the visual of ICE breaking through my door to deport myself or my sister. When DACA came, this fear stopped ...."

But Donald Trump wants Elias banished from our country. 

America asked people like Elias, Bruno, and Reina-and nearly a million young people all across this country- to come out of the shadows. We made them a promise. Work hard, play by the rules, contribute to America, get an education, defend our country, help us build an economy that works. And in exchange, we won't knock on you door in the middle of the night, rip you from your home, and ship you off to a foreign country you barely remember. 

President Trump decided to break that promise. He's hiding behind Jeff Sessions and some flimsy lawyer nonsense - but he's breaking that promise, pure and simple. And that means he's failing in his basic moral duty to protect these people, these children of America. 

That's not who America is. America is not a place that punishes children for the sins of their fathers. America is not a place that boots out smart, hard-working, decent young people who have spent nearly all their lives here and who are a core part of our nation's future.

Donald Trump wants to turn us against each other.  He wants to banish Reina, Bruno, Elias and hundreds of thousands of other young people from our country.  He says that is how we will build a better America.

Donald Trump is wrong.  He wants to build a hateful and frightened America, but we have the chance to turn away from the hate and fear.  We have the chance, right here in Congress, to take an important step toward building a stronger, more vibrant America.  We have the chance to make DACA the law so that Donald Trump cannot take away the dreams of 800,000 young people like Reina, Bruno and Elias.

We can-and we must-pass the Dream Act now.

Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox