Throughout the week Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has been taking to the Senate floor to describe the transformative impact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is having on people’s lives.
While more than 600,000 young people have applied for the program since 2012 and are now studying, working and otherwise contributing to the country they call home, Republicans in the House voted last week to overturn the program and hold hostage funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until that program and the more recent executive action are overturned.
In a speech from earlier this week, Senator Durbin highlighted the story of Oscar Vasquez, an extraordinary DREAMer from Arizona.
Oscar grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, where he attended high school and was a member of the Junior ROTC. Oscar went to the recruiting office to sign up for the U.S. Army, but he was asked for his birth certificate and ultimately denied because he didn’t have the proper papers.
Oscar then went on to become part of a team of students, who were recently featured in a new film by George Lopez, called “Spare Parts.” Oscar and three of his high school classmates entered into an underwater robotics competition with colleges like MIT, and they won. Oscar then studied mechanical engineering and graduated with a degree from Arizona State University.
After Oscar got married and he and his wife had a child, he felt compelled to find a way to change his status. The only way to do it was to return to Mexico and wait for up to 10 years. He ended up getting a waiver that allowed him to come back more quickly and finally get legal papers.
Once he became a citizen, the first thing he did was enlist in the US Army and go into combat in Afghanistan. Now, he lives with his family in Montana and works for a railroad company.
Oscar is such a clear example of how DREAMers and their families are giving back to our country, and all the while Republican are not only voting to have them deported, but to put our country’s homeland security funding at risk in order to carry out the singular focus of subjecting as many immigrants in this country to deportation as possible.
As Sen. Durbin concluded in his floor speech about Oscar:
Our immigration system is still broken. Withholding money from DHS, threatening riders that are DREAM-killers for so many young people in America, that’s unacceptable. I will stand on this floor for as long as it takes to defend the DREAM Act and people like Oscar Vasquez who contribute to America and make it a better nation.