Senator Udall Acknowledges 2 New Mexico DREAMers in Senate Floor Speech, Calls for Prompt Homeland Security Funding

House Republican bill unfairly targets DREAMers, poses a threat to national security and New Mexico’s economy

U.S. Senator Tom Udall shared the stories of two hardworking DREAMers from Santa Fe and Belen, N.M. in a speech from the Senate floor yesterday. His remarks came just after voting against beginning debate on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which he said unfairly targets young undocumented immigrants.

Congress must pass a DHS funding bill before Feb. 27 or DHS will shut down. Out of anger at President Obama’s immigration policies, Republicans have proposed legislation with harsh anti-immigrant penalties and threatened to block DHS funding – including programs that are critical for New Mexico – if their proposals are not passed into law. One such reform Republicans oppose would legalize the immigration status of undocumented youth with no criminal record who were brought to the United States as children — if they finish school or join the military. These children are also called DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, a bill Udall has supported for many years.

Udall urged senators to fund DHS without penalizing DREAMers, to allow amendments, and to enact a bill that Congress and the president can agree to.

“We may disagree on the specifics of immigration reform, but these DREAMers have earned our admiration,” Udall said after sharing the stories of two DREAMers, Mabel Arellenaes of Santa Fe and Alejandro Rivera of Belen, who have both worked hard in school and in their communities despite their immigration status. “They should not be pushed back into the shadows by the House deportation bill, and the men and women who work to keep us safe-who screen more than a million people a day through our ports of entry, who patrol our borders and help secure our communities-they should not be a bargaining chip. In New Mexico, we believe homeland security should be a priority-not a talking point.”

Udall also discussed the impact that shutting down DHS would have on national security, jobs and the economy. Border Patrol agents, Transportation Security Administration officers, and law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Artesia, N.M., all would be harmed by a shutdown, and New Mexico’s communities would be left less safe.

“As a New Mexican, I am appalled that a DHS shutdown is even being considered,” Udall continued in his remarks. “We cannot risk our national security, our community safety, and our border commerce just so that Republicans can prove some sort of inside-the-beltway point about how angry they are about immigration reform. The House Republican bill threatens to deport millions of people who have been living and working and going to school in our country for many years. The Senate should choose a different route: put a clean bill on the floor, allow an open amendment debate and enact a bill the President can sign before any shutdown occurs.”

Video is available HERE.