Washington, D.C – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today expressed his deep disappointment in Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl for yesterday’s vote against bringing the National Defense Authorization Act to the floor, effectively killing this year’s prospects for the once uncontroversial Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. McCain and Kyl joined other Republicans and a handful of Democrats in blocking the defense authorization bill from coming to the floor for the first time since 1952.
The DREAM Act, which was attached to the defense bill, would grant permanent residence to undocumented immigrants brought by their parents to the United States. Anyone looking to qualify would have to be at least 16 years of age, have been in the country for at least five years, and demonstrate completion of at least two years of college or military service, among other requirements. Sen. McCain had been an especially vocal supporter in previous years and co-sponsored the DREAM Act in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
The Department of Defense supports the DREAM Act, with the FY 2010-12 Strategic Plan recommending passage to help the military “shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.”
“For 58 years in a row, despite numerous political differences, both parties have always come together to bring the defense bill to the floor,” Grijalva said. “Yesterday, Republicans chose to kill the entire bill because it included a common-sense measure that even Gen. Colin Powell supports. The partisanship on display is truly a new low. The entire nation would have been stronger after approving the DREAM Act, but Sens. McCain and Kyl made a different choice for short-term political benefit.”
The defense authorization bill also included a pay raise for soldiers, steps to modernize military equipment, and measures to ensure adequate medical care for veterans. The Republican filibuster of the bill, which 56 Democrats voted to break (four short of the necessary 60), means the bill cannot come back for a vote without changes that Senate leaders may not have time to make before the end of this legislative session.
“These kids have done all we asked of them – learned English, finished high school with good grades and become good members of their community,” said Grijalva. “We have invested in these children, who contribute just as much to society as their peers, only to penalize them for a decision their parents made when they were babies.”
Sen. McCain’s Record on The Need For Immigration Reform
“The public expects Congress to address comprehensively this national problem recognizing both the vulnerability of our inadequately protected borders and the need to allow an earned path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants who work here that substitutes fines, civic responsibilities such as paying back taxes and learning English, and a place at the back of the line for the de facto amnesty that exits under our current system. This is a fair, practical and humane solution to the problem of illegal immigration that I’m confident has the support of a majority of Americans and will have the support of well over sixty senators.”
Press Release, 4/11/06
“Throughout our history, immigrants have helped to build our country and make us strong. Those members of Congress who support an enforcement-only approach may think it is good politics. But after careful study, the Independent Task Force came to the same understanding as President Bush, a bipartisan majority in the Senate, and the American people: Immigration is a serious and complex issue that calls for thoughtful and serious solutions and a comprehensive approach. A comprehensive solution to immigration reform is neither conservative nor liberal, Republican nor Democrat but a vital necessity for America. A comprehensive approach to immigration reform recognizes that we must strengthen and modernize enforcement – at the border, at our airports, and in the workplace – and to do so effectively we must provide a path for the 12 million undocumented immigrants to earn the privilege of remaining here legally. Integral to our enforcement efforts will be a program to allow needed immigrants to come here legally and for our employers to hire them. Former [Homeland Security] Secretary [Tom] Ridge recently wrote, ‘even a well-designed, generously funded enforcement regime will not work’ unless it also includes a temporary worker program and a solution for the current undocumented.”
Joint Statement from Sens. McCain and Kennedy and Reps. Flake and Berman, 9/22/06
Sen. Kyl’s Record on The Need For Immigration Reform
“You’ve got people today that are being exploited, people who – against whom crimes are being committed, that are afraid to go to report to the law enforcement authorities, who aren’t being paid adequate wages, whose work conditions are – are very poor, who, frankly, are being taken advantage of. And as long as they’re in this gray status, that’s going to continue. This bill offers them immediately an opportunity to begin a process by which they are playing by the rules and as a result of that, can have the freedom and the assurance of being protected by the laws of the United States of America.”
Senate Floor 6/06/07
“The answer is of course if you don’t have a good law to enforce, you can’t work that strategy. The law has got to be changed.”
Senate Floor 6/28/07
“For those who say, let’s just enforce our laws, I remind them that some of our laws are unenforceable. My conservative friends are the first ones to point out that the 1986 law is not an effective law. It is unenforceable. And until we change it, we’re not going to be able to just enforce the laws.”
Senate Floor 6/28/07
“If you are unhappy with the status quo, if you don’t like the way that things are today, then why would you oppose a change that at least offers the prospect that the new law will be enforced when we know that the old law is not being adequately enforced? And if you say, well, let’s just enforce the current law I ask you with regard to the employer verification system that I just discussed, how can you enforce a law that’s not enforceable, inherently not enforceable?”
Senate Floor 6/04/07