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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 14, 2018 9:59am-12:00pm EST

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average i believe of over 20 years, about 20 years, that we should findo a way to make sure that they have a secure future here. we may want to look at ways to reform tps going forward, and we can have that discussion, but for those who are here now and to have been living in the united states for decades working, let's find a way to provide them with a secure future as well. so this is going to be, in the coming weeks and i hope, mr. president, that we can get the job done. and i suggest the absence of a quorum. >> the use senate is about to gavel and to start their day. more work on immigration expected with a vote to officially start that debate scheduled for 10:30 a.m. eastern. negotiations continue off the forest which amendments to bring up for consideration. and now to live coverage of the
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u.s. senate here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. almighty god, the fountain of wisdom, we thank you for this season of penance and personal reflection. lord, as we remember that the last time ash wednesday and valentine's day fell on the same
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day, it was 1945, we thank you for the many challenging seasons through which you have brought this nation and world. as we continue to depend upon the power of your prevailing providence, deliver us from majoring in minors. bless our lawmakers. as they commit themselves to you, make them a voice for the voiceless and a help for the helpless. may we make it our first priority to fulfill your purposes for our lives. we pray in your sacred name. .amen. the presiding officer:
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please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to our flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington d.c, february 14, 2018, to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable thom tillis, a senator from the state of north carolina, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, presidet pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved.
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: it's now wednesday morning, the week the senate set aside to debate daca, border security, interior enforcement, and other immigration issues. i promised i would clear the way to debate these matters this week, and i have. i promised i would ensure a fair amendment process in which both sides could offer legislation for discussion and votes, and i have. just yesterday the congressional hispanic caucus released a letter thanking me for keeping my commitment and urged the senate to resolve this issue quickly. but we haven't even been able to get started yet. haven't even been able to get started. yesterday i tried twice to open the debate and start the voting. both times my democratic colleagues objected.
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i'm a little perplexed, frankly, by the holdup. my democratic colleagues have spent months, months, as we all know, demanding the senate take up this issue. they even shut down the government, shut down the government -- unnecessarily, i might add -- in order to secure this very week for this discussion. but now that the time has come to make law instead of just making points, they're stalling. why? why? after months and months spent demanding that the senate take up this issue do they now object to even starting the debate? because they know, no matter how long they spend in closed-door negotiations, they can't change
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the fact that the president has spelled out a fair and generous framework that will be necessary to earn his signature. these guys can't take yes for an answer. so instead of moving to fulfill their promises and address the daca issue, they haven't even allowed the debate to begin. there is a widespread desire in this chamber to find a solution for the illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children. widespread agreement. but common sense dictates we cannot simply treat one symptom of our broken immigration policy in complete isolation. we must address the underlying problems as well. that means fixing broken parts of our legal immigration system. we must also ensure the safety
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of the american people. that's why a daca resolution should be paired with new security measures at our borders and commonsense steps to improve security inside our borders. steps like fixing the loophole that forces us to release thousands of criminal aliens whose home countries won't take them back. steps like enacting case law to put criminal offenders who repeatedly and illegally cross our borders behind bars. cracking down with stiffer penalties for human trafficking and updating the removeability grounds for drug traffickers, repeat offenders and other violent and dangerous criminals. why in the world would those ideas be controversial? keeping americans safe does not need to be a partisan issue.
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and addressing these important safety issues along with daca, border security, and other parts of our broken immigration system is our best chance to produce legislation that can pass the house, pass the senate, and earn the president's signature. this is why the proposal put forward by senator grassley and others which draws on the president's generous framework and which the president has officially endorsed has my support. because presumably, we want to actually make a law here. i made no effort, none, to tell democrats what amendments they should offer. of course they shouldn't try to dictate republican amendments either. the longer my colleagues across the aisle refuse to come to the table, the longer they're unable
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to produce any legislation they actually support, the lower the odds that we can arrive at a legislative solution this week. yesterday alone, mr. president, the senate was open for nine hours yesterday alone. nine hours. nine hours we could have spent processing amendments and proceeding to votes. nine hours down the drain because democrats won't let us start the debate they spent months demanding. now that we can finally proceed to consider the underlying bill this morning, i hope my colleagues across the aisle will come to the table. the president's made clear what principles must be addressed if we are going to make a law instead of merely making political points. while our democratic colleagues can no longer prevent the senate from stalling the debate, they
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can continue to delay votes on amendments. i hope that won't happen. now on another matter, on monday president trump unveiled his proposal to improve america's infrastructure. today he'll host committee chairmen and ranking members at the white house for a bipartisan, bicameral meeting on that subject. i'm grateful the president is prioritizing this and reaching across the aisle. experts agree that america's aging infrastructure needs a lot of help. nationwide, 9.1% of our bridges are considered structurally deficient. 13.6% are considered functionally obsolete. one recent study suggested road congestion costs us $160 billion a year. from road congestion.
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but the answer is not simply to throw new money at old problems. it took american workers less time to build great skyscrapers start to finish than it now takes bureaucrats to review, not even build, but review proposals for new bridges and roadways. we really need to streamline regulations, reform the permitting process, and get government out of the way wherever possible. once projects are proposed, they should be reviewed in a safe but reasonable amount of time and then completed as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. mr. president, this is a prime opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. our last three highway bills, our last three wrda bills and
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our last three f.a.a. bills all passed the senate easily, averaging more than 80 votes. i hope we can renew that consensus when the time comes. now, on one final matter, for eight years under president obama, our economy didn't perform as well as it should have. america's wages and salaries hardly grew. many job creators sat on the sidelines, wary of new tax increases or heavy-handed regulations. washington had its foot on the brake. last year, all that changed. president trump and his republican congress set out to make life easier for workers and for job creators. we cut regulations, passed tax reform to give middle-class families immediate relief, and set the stage for more hiring and more wage growth in the years ahead. i originally heard from a small family-owned inland river shipyard in ashland, kentucky,
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along the ohio river. they build and repair commercial barges. here's what their president wrote. he said thanks to the tax change and optimism of our customers, we're at long last able to replace equipment which has been used way past its life expectancy and possibly add two more production workers. last week, a louisville employer dropped by to tell me how he is using his tax reform savings. $1,000 bonuses for more than 100 kentucky employees. small companies and big businesses alike are thrilled they finally have a 21st century tax code. it makes them more competitive with overseas rivals and frees up more money to invest right here at home. and middle-class workers are reaping the rewards. major national companies like pfizer and home depot, which together employ more than half a million americans have announced
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hundreds of millions of dollars in employee bonuses, again thanks to tax reform. just this week, metlife announced a major new investment in its 50,000-plus employees. the company is raising its minimum wage, enhancing benefits, boosting retirement contributions, and creating a skills development fund. in short, metlife is betting big on u.s. workers, and so are the more than 300 other companies that have already announced major investments in their employees and in their facilities. right here in america. right here, thanks to historic tax reform.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: good morning. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. the senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to h.r. 2579. the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to h.r. 2579 an act to amend the internal revenue service of 1986
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to allow the premium tax credit. the presiding officer: all cloture time has expired. the question is on the motion many all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have. it the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 2579, and act to amend the internal revenue service of 1986 and so forth. mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the -- well, i want to call up, first of all, amendment 1959. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from iowa, mr. grassley, proposes an amendment number 1959. mr. grassley: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i call up the toomey amendment 1948 to the grassley amendment number 1959.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. mcconnell for mr. toomey proposes amendment 1948 to amendment 1959. mr. mcconnell: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the democratic leader. mr. schumer: i call up the amendment 1958. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator proposes amendment 1958 to the amendment proposed to be strike bin amendment 1959. mr. schumer: i ask that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i call up amendment 1959 to schumer amendment 1958. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: amendment 1955 to amendment 1958. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the reading be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. the democratic.
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mr. schumer: as we enter -- as we enter the second day of the debate on immigration, everyone should be focused on finding a bill to protect the dreamers and address border security that can get 60 votes. that's the ballgame. the majority leader's desire to vote on unrelated partisan immigration bill, legislation that's not only silent on dreamers but also silent on border security as well, that's not a productive way to begin the debate. let's get to the crux of the issue. let republicans offer whatever they want on daca and border security and we'll do the same. the leader supports the proposal by senator grassley that's essentially the president's plan. let's vote on that first. we will have several bipartisan bills to offer. we should vote on those too. now, democrats are focused like a laser on finding a partisan bill that can pass the senate to protect the dreamers.
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democrats are focused like a laser on finding a bipartisan bill that can pass the senate pro protect the dreamers. several moderate republicans are working towards that as well. the only person who seems most intent on -- or the one person who seems most intent on not getting a deal is president trump. president trump's contribution to this debate has been to put forward a proposal that contains a vast curtailment of legal immigration far outside the stoap of daca for border -- scope of daca for border security and demanding that the democrats support it. instead of making a proposal in good faith or working with democrats on a compromise, president trump is trying to force his unpopular hardlined
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immigration agenda down the throats of the american people by calling it a daca bill. the president's proposal, now the grassley bill, is so extreme on legal immigration that several republicans have been critical of it, including my friends from south carolina and arizona. yet, president trump thinks that democrats would be to blame for not getting a deal on daca because we didn't go blindly along with his partisan plan, extreme as it is, with no input from democrats. that will not happen. only in a 1984 world could the democrats be blamed for the current predicament on daca. as much as the president wants to turn the world upside down. as much as he wants everyone to just accept what he is saying, the american people know better. everyone here knows that president trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to
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daca from the very beginning. let's take a quick look at the history. first, it was president trump who terminated the daca program last august, not democrats or not republicans here. unilaterally we are in this pickle -- in this worse than pickle, in this bad situation because president trump chose to end the daca program last august. that stands out above anything else. then president trump turned his back not on one but two bipartisan immigration proposals. i went so far to put the wall, the president's signature campaign issue, on the table for discussion. that still did not drive him to a deal. finally now that we're working hard in the senate to come up with a bipartisan proposal, president trump is just trying
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to gum up the works. according to reports, president trump may threaten to veto legislation that doesn't match his hard line demands, my way or no way, with no democratic input. a statement this morning from the white house said the president would oppose even a short-term bill to protect the dreamers. so who is intent on kick these people who know no country but america, who work in our factories and offices, who go to our schools, to serve -- who serve in our military, who is intent on kicking them out? not the american people. 90% want to support the dreamers. not any democrat, and not a good number of republicans on that side of the aisle. just the president. on three separate occasions president trump has stood in the way of a bipartisan solution to daca, a problem he creed in the -- created in the first
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place. and yet the president is in this dream world. he thinks, i can blame democrats for the impasse. as i said, only in the 1984 world where up is down and black is white could this be true. only in a 1984 world where up is down and black is white would the american public blame democrats for this. they know where trump stands . it they know it. the american people know what's going on. they know that this president not only created the problem but seems to be against every solution that might pass because it isn't 100% of what he wants. if at the end of this week we are unable to find ale bill that can pass -- find a bill that can pass -- i sincerely hope that is not the case -- the responsibility will fall on the president's shoulders and those in this body who went along with
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it. bipartisan negotiations are ongoing, perhaps very close to a conclusion. nothing is ever certain given the contentious nature of this debate, but i am hopeful that senators can put the president's hard-line demands to the side and come up with a deal that works for both parties. if we want to go beyond border security and the daca kids, let's do comprehensive reform. we did it once. it worked pretty well in the senate. the house blocked it. but let's go back to it. but first the issue at hand, the daca kids and border security. that's the only thing that can pass this chamber. the only thing. we need to push through to the finish line. there are only two days of debate remaining this week. everyone has to make a final effort to reach consensus.
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that doesn't mean adding new demands or drawing lines in the sand. it means being willing to compromise and take yes for an answer. it won't be, if we pass something, everything that democrats want or everything that republicans want, but it may get the job done for the dreamers and the overwhelming majority of americans who would like to see them stay in the country. on another matter, taxes. now, our republican friends argue that their massive corporate tax cut wasn't such a huge giveaway to corporate america. they predicted that corporations would spend the tax savings on benefits for workers. the evidence is already mounting that those predictions were wrong. since the beginning of the republican tax bill, corporations have been pouring billions of dollars into stock repurchasing programs, not significant wage increases or other meaningful investments in workers. it is now these stock buybacks,
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stock repurchasing, which benefit primarily the people at the top, have reached a significant milestone. since the passage of the republican tax bill there has been over $100 billion in stock buybacks. as of last week, corporations announced twice the amount of corporate share buybacks as during a similar period during last year. the amount of share buybacks has doubled since the republican tax bill passed. why is that so significant? because share buybacks don't help the average worker. they inflate the value of a company's stock which primarily benefits shareholders, not workers. it benefits those who are compensated with corporate stock. and the money corporations spend on repurchasing their stock is money that isn't being
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reinvested in worker training, equipment, research, new hires, or higher salaries. and according to analysts at morgan stanley, companies surveyed said they would only pass 13% of the trump tax cut savings on to workers, in comparison to 43% they will spend on share buybacks. for manufacturers it's even worse. 9% to go to workers, 47% to share buybacks. corporations said they would give komptions the lion's share of the buybacks. trickle down never works and it's not happening now. corporate america is doing what's best for corporate america and working america is getting left behind. it goes to show you just who president trump and republicans
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were working for when they crafted their tax bill. they gave corporations and the wealthiest americans a huge tax cut and cut out everybody else. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, this is immigration week in the united states senate and we are preparing to procedural moves to bring bills to the floor for consideration as early as today, perhaps tomorrow at the late et- at the latest. it is an unusual time when the senate is focused on such an important issue and amendments
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and substitutes are being offered. the reason we are at this point at this moment in time because of a decision by president trump on september 5 of last year when he announced that he was ending the daca program. the daca program allowed those who were brought to the united states brought here as toddlers to be on a renewable -- it was called daca. several stepped up and paid the filing fee of almost $500 and went through a criminal background check and interview and received daca protection. they went on with their lives. 900 of them enlisted in the united states military. undocumented in america, willing to hold up their hands and take an oath that they would die for america. that's how much they love this country. 20,000 of them went to work as
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schoolteachers across the united states of america. perhaps they're your child's teacher or your grandchild's teacher today. they're doing important things in this country. but president trump announced on last september 5 the program that protects them, that allows them to work, would end. and then he challenged us. he said to the senate and the house, do something about it. pass a law. isn't that what you're there for? the president's right, that's our job. and this week we're going to try to pass a law to end this crisis which is going to reach ahead on march 5 of this year when the daca program officially ends at 1,000 young people a day lose their protection. we have less than three weeks. so we're going to move today, i hope, or tomorrow, or this week at some point to consider some alternatives to solve this problem. i'm sorry to say there is no plan in the u.s. house of representatives to even address the problem.
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none. i don't understand it. they know that lives hang in the balance, and they know that overwhelmingly the american people want to give these daca and dreamers a chance. the numbers come rolling in 75, 80, 85% of americans agree that these young people should be given a chance to earn their way to legal status and citizenship. even 60% of those who voted for president trump agree with what i just said. it's a popular political issue on both sides, and it also is the right thing to do. what the president has proposed as his alternative, from my point of view, is unacceptable, and let me tell you why. two weeks ago the white house released a one-page framework on immigration reform and border security. the white house claims this is a compromise because it includes a path to citizenship for dreamers, some of them. and that of course, as i mentioned, is supported by a
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majority of americans. the reality is the trump plan would put the administration's entire hard-line immigration agenda on the backs of these young people. these young daca protected people are being held political hostages for president trump's hard-line immigration agenda. for example, the white house wants to dramatically reduce legal immigration by prohibiting american citizens from sponsoring their parents, siblings and children as immigrants. now we're talking about literally millions of relatives of american citizens who entered the system legally and are following our immigration laws, and some have been waiting for as long as 20 years to emigrate to the united states. the conservative cato institute says the following about president trump's proposal,
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quote, the most likely scenario, the new plan from the trump administration would cut the number of legal immigrants by up to 44%, or 500,000 immigrants annually. the largest policy-driven legal immigration cuts since the 1920's. compared to the current law, the cato institute says it would exclude nearly 20 million people the opportunity to emigrate legally to the united states over the next five decades. mr. president, you have to go back in history to a time when there was a proposal that passed right on the floor of this chamber that cut as many legal immigrants to the united states. the year was 1924. calvin coolidge was president of the united states. we had just seen the end of world war i. there was a growing fear that because of all of the damage that was done in europe, europeans would come to the united states. there was also a concern that the wrong people were coming to
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the united states, in the eyes of some of the members of congress. and so the immigration act of 1924 passed, and it set quotas for countries. and it set quotas for people. it was expressly designed to exclude certain people from around the world from entering the united states of america. it is a notorious piece of legislation. those who were to be excluded, excluded from america included people from italy, eastern europe, japan, asia, and jewish people. that was the immigration policy of the united states of america because of that bill in 1924. that's the last time this chamber has made such a dramatic cut in legal immigration to america. it was a source of embarrassment for decades. the united states established quotas and said we want america to look a lot different than it
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would look if other immigrants came to this country. thankfully, in 1965 it was changed. thankfully we gave up the quotas, quotas that have been criticized roundly as being insensitive to the realities of world population and the reality of the population of america. now the trump administration wants to cut legal immigration to the united states again, by 44%. the biggest cut as the cato institute tells us, since that horrible bill that was passed i 1924. let me tell you what else the trump immigration proposal would do. it would create an unaccountable slush fund of $25 billion of american taxpayers' money for a border wall that, as i remember correctly, mexico was supposed to pay for.
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$25 billion, that's more -- i'll have to double check, but i think that's more than the annual appropriation for the national institutes of health. $25 billion, and the president wants no strings attached. he wants to be able to spend it where, when, and how he wants. that is an invitation for fraud and waste. it is an invitation for money to be spent for something other than his purpose. it is an invitation for taxpayers to be the ultimate losers with the slush fund for president trump's famous mexican wall. the president's proposal as well on immigration, president trump in the midst of the worst refugee crisis on record in the world is now calling for fast-track deportations without due process of women and children fleeing gang and sexual violence.
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i can't tell you how many times we've had this conversation with members of the trump administration. they create a scenario, a scenario of a six-year-old child who is swooped up in some country in central america. the parents give thousands of dollars of their hreufl savings to a -- of their life savings to a smuggler who says i'll get this child to the border of the united states. the child is then taken off by the smuggler in a car or truck or bus to the border. the child then comes out of the car, is pointed toward one of our federal employees with the border patrol, and the child walks up and hands a piece of paper to the border patrol agent with the name of someone in the united states. that process then unfolds and the child ultimately in many cases ends up with that relative while a decision is made about the status of the child.
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is there exploitation in the system? you bet there is. is there abuse in the system? for sure. there actual human trafficking taking place? yes. and are atrocities committed against these children in the course of this journey? all true. should we be dedicated to cleaning this up? sign me up, on a bipartisan basis. but let me tell you another scenario and another story. it has a different origin than turning over a child to a smuggler. let me tell you of cases we know in honduras and el salvador, guatamala, where because of the rampant crime and gang activity and violence that takes place, parents desperate to save their children, some of whom have daughters who have been victims of rape by these gangs, send them to the united states in the hope that they can save their lives. and they show up at the border having lived in fear of this
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violence in their countries, and they are accepted into the united states to determine whether that fear can be established in a hearing. two different cases. a little child being exploited by a smuggler. a young girl escaping violence and perhaps death because her parents have nowhere to turn to save her life. should we treat them both the same? i don't think so. historically, we have said when it comes to asylum seekers who come to this country with a credible fear for their own lives, the united states has given them a chance to be protected. we've said that over and over again. we said it to the cubans who have been escaping fidel castro. we said it to the soviet jews who wanted to have freedom of their religion and come to the united states and believed that this was the only chance they had in the world. well, the trump immigration proposal does not make a clear
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distinction on those two cases. in fact, what it does is end up with fast-track deportations without due process. accepting the trump approach will literally return many of these folks who come to our border to harm and in some cases death. and then fast-track deportations as well in the trump proposal without due process for millions who overstayed their visas. an estimated 40% of the 11 million undocumented fit in this category. so even if they have no criminal record, without considering their legal claims to remain in the united states, they would be deported. it dramatically cuts immigration from sub-saharan african countries. we have a diversity visa program. it's far from perfect, but it's a program which was created years ago so that countries that do not have an opportunity to send people to the united states
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for legal immigration would have a chance. now these immigrants who come from these countries -- and they're limited in number -- have to go through the background checks, the criminal background checks, the biometric investigations, all of the investigations and interviews which wield expect to make sure -- which we would expect to make sure we do everything humanly possible to call out those who would be any danger to the united states. they face that same scrutiny, and they should. many of them are rejected. they can't make the case for their lives and what they've done with them, and they're just not given a chance to come. now the president wants to eliminate that diversity visa program. for those living in sub-saharan african countries, that huge continent, about 12,000 to 15,000 come to the united states each year under this program. by eliminating this program the trump administration sadly is going to deny these people from
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africa the chance to apply for this opportunity. in the past many have been willing to support some of the president's proposals, changes in our elimination system, eliminating the diversity visa lottery. but when we made that offer five years ago, it was part of a comprehensive immigration reform with give and take and compromise that tried to make sense out of our senseless immigration laws. in 2013, the democratic-led senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32. the bill was the product of months of negotiations, committee and floor debate. unfortunately the republican leadership in the house of representatives refused to even consider the bill. now we're being asked to accept the administration's proposals with no conditions, no compromise, no give and take. rather, take it or leave it.
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democrats have shown we want to comprehensivelily fix our broken immigration system, but right now we have to fix our focus on the daca crisis created by president trump with his announcement of september 5. that has to be our priority. in the next day or two we expect the so-called grassley proposal, which is the trump immigration plan, to come to the floor. i want to just say for the record, the democrats support comprehensive immigration reform, but we will not stand by and allow dreamers to be held hostage, political hostage, to the administration's entire immigration agenda. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: mr. president, i come to the floor today out of great concern for america's dreamers whose futures hinge on the ability of this body to keep its word and get something done. i want to be clear who we are talking about when we talk about dreamers. we aren't talking about criminals. we aren't talking about terrorists. we aren't talking about, quote-unquote, bad hombres. we are talking about kids as american as apple pie. as i often say, the only country they call home is the united states. the only flag they pledge allegiance to is that of the american flag. the only national anthem they know how to sing is the star-spangled banner. we're talking about 800,000
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young people who were brought to this country as children and who were able to obtain legal protection under the deferred action for childhood arrivals program known as daca. these kids put enormous faith in our government. they came out of the shadows. they passed background checks. they registered with our government, all to get a two-year renewable work permit and protection from deportation. even the cato institute, which is a conservative think tank, says that supporting dreamers, 91% of whom are gainfully employed, would hurt america's economy. at the same time, we're also talking about thousands of additional dreamers who were eligible for daca but didn't apply. some couldn't afford the costs. others were still working through the lengthy application process. these are the dreamers the white house chief of staff john kelly
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calls lazy asses. well, mr. kelly, here is what you don't understand. the reason they didn't apply is not pause they were lazy. in fact, in many cases, they didn't apply because they were afraid, afraid of people like you. they're afraid that if they came out of the shadows and registered with the government, they would end up on a short list for deportation. and what's depressing is that this administration's actions have proven them right. now daca recipients and undocumented dreamers alike fear that they have a target on their back, and that's because trump put an expiration date on their dreams when he decided to end daca. now, let me be clear, daca was never perfect and it was never a replacement for truly comprehensive immigration reform, and make no mistake, we still need comprehensive
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immigration reform, and i'm as committed as ever to that cause, a cause that i have spent the better part of my congressional career trying to achieve. i was a member of the gang of eight here in the senate back in 2013 when a bipartisan supermajority in the senate passed the most historic reforms to our immigration system since the days of president ronald reagan. only to die in the house of representatives without even a vote. but that debate is for another day. that debate is for what president trump called phase two. this week, we're not here to debate comprehensive immigration reform. we're not here to debate the numerous types of visas that exist under u.s. law. we're not here to debate how mayors run their cities or how police officers do their jobs. we're here to protect dreamers. we're here to address a crisis that president trump started last september when he ended daca. that's what this week's debate
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is all about. it's about protecting hardworking, upstanding dreamers across america from being deported to countries they haven't stepped foot in since they were in diapers. now, many of my colleagues have met dreamers from their states in recent years, and they know that the lion's share of these kids can't even remember coming here, only growing up here. for the dreamers who do remember arriving here, they certainly didn't arrive through any decision of their own. they were babies and toddlers and very young children, and i challenge my colleagues to think of any decision of consequence they made when they were babies and toddlers and very young children. i bet you didn't decide what town you lived in, where your parents worked, or what kind of status you had. when we talk about dreamers, we're talking about kids who have grown up american in every
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sense of the word. we're talking about 22,000 new jerseyans like parte patel who came to new jersey from india when he was 5 years old. he gained daca status in 2012. he graduated from drexel law school in 2016. he became the first dreamer admitted to the new jersey bar in 2018. we're also talking about students like christopher martin, a constituent of mine who came here from colombia at the age of 2. today, he's a junior at rutgers university with a 3.74 g.p.a. he is president of the management information systems association, and he is interning at colgate palmolive. christopher said i'm proud to be a daca recipient, and i plan on contributing as much to this country as i possibly can. but as another dreamer from new jersey, sarah moorer recently
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wrote, without daca, her life has become one big question mark. one big question mark. the question of whether or not this congress will act. will we protect dreamers who become integral to our communities, many who are teaching in our schools, who are treating our patients, who are serving proudly in the military of the united states, wearing the uniform of the united states, risking their lives on behalf of our country, and yet we talk about deporting them. who are starting families of their own. that's right. nearly a quarter of daca recipients are the parents of u.s.-born american children. that's who we are talking about this week. we're not talking about criminals. we're not talking about terrorists. we're not talking about gangbangers or drug dealers. we're talking about dreamers.
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they are undocumented -- they are not undocumented immigrants, from my perspective. they are undocumented americans who have proven themselves worthy of the american dream. yet, the administration slapped an arbitrary expiration date on their dream, creating a crisis that congress needs to solve. now, i took president trump at his word when he said he wanted to treat dreamers with heart, just as i took leader mcconnell at his word when he said this week would be about protecting them from deportation. but now as i listened to many of my republican colleagues on the senate floor, i'm hearing less and less about dreamers and more and more about spending tens of billions of taxpayer dollars on a wall that president trump promised that mexico would pay for. and considering the trump administration's own report, noting that illegal border crossings from mexico have dropped to their lowest level in
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nearly 50 years, you have to question the wisdom of a multibillion-dollar wall, a wall between the united states and a country that serves as our second largest export market in the world for american goods and services, as american consumers and businesses buy american goods and services that support jobs created here at home. and likewise, i'm hearing a whole lot about politically loaded terms like merit-based immigration and chain migration. chain migration. these aren't terms that you find in our laws. they are political catch phrases designed to incite fear and push policies that forever change how legal immigration works in the united states. the more insidious, of course, is the term chain migration.
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and i'm appalled when i hear my colleagues talk about chain migration, just like i'm appalled that the media, even the so-called liberal media has adopted this phrase even as if it's actually a legitimate term. and i can't be the only one who thinks the term chain migration is downright insulting to the millions of americans whose ancestors were actually brought to this country in chains. now, i have heard a lot about family values from my republican colleagues throughout my time in congress. the republican party has long claimed to be the party of so-called family values. well, chain migration is a term that dehumanizes families. chain migration. when we want to dehumanize something, we create an inan ma. this chain is about a mother and
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a father and a son and a daughter. it's not an inanimate object. it is not a dehumanizing term. it's a term designed to make our system of legal immigration and family reunification sound threatening and illogical. but there is nothing threatening about uniting mothers and fathers, and there is nothing more common sense than uniting brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. they are not linked by chains. they are bound by blood and held together by love. families are the essence of american values in our society. families are the glue that builds strong communities, the foundation of our country. yet, some of my republican colleagues act as if the nuclear family is a concept that has an expiration date. well, i love my -- i have loved
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my daughter since the day she was born and the day she turned 21 and the day she turned 30, as i do my son. i didn't love them less with each passing year. i don't love them any less now that they have gotten married. in fact, i love them more. so when americans need to know that when republicans speak of ending chain migration, they are talking about ending the legal right of united states citizens to legally sponsor family members in our immigration system. it's not chain migration. it's family reunion ifunificati. that's what america's all about. that's what immigration policy for the past century has been about, keeping families together, not tearing them apart. and the reality is most americans are in some ways the beneficiary of family reunification. without it, our country would be a very different place.
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end family reunification, and we would never have seen the leadership of individuals like powell powell, a -- like colin powell, a general, secretary of state. that's right. his parents wouldn't have been able to come here out the big, bad chain migration that my colleagues in the majority decry today. end family reunification, and suddenly billion-dollar american technology companies like kingston technology would have never existed. before john tulle was a billion-dollar businessman, he was a self-described mediocre student from china. he would have never come to america if it were not for the sponsorship of his u.s. citizen sister. he wasn't skilled when he got here, and yet he built a ground-breaking company. so let's get real. when president trump professes his support for merit-based immigration, he doesn't have a real plan for allowing a million
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engineers and inventors from around the world to come to the united states. he's talking about cutting legal immigration by nearly 50%. that's a policy with disastrous implications for the future of this country when you consider basic economic facts. any credible economist will tell you without steady immigration america's global competitiveness will suffer and fall behind larger countries like china, pakistan, and india. according to a "forbes" magazine, even donald trump is from chain migration. his grandfather came here with no english speaking ability and no merit-based skills. why? because his sister was already in the united states and claimed him as part of family
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reunification. you get to be president of the united states because of chain migration. the -- if the republicans were being honest, they would call their term of chain migration what it really is, they would call it family reunification. but they don't want to call it family reunification, because they don't want to strip united states citizens from their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters. if you want to have a debate about the merit of the immigration system, we can have that. but that debate over comprehensive immigration reform is not the debate we should have this week. this debate is about whether we will listen to the voices of the american people who overwhelmingly want us to solve this crisis. according to the latest polls just out this week, 81% of
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americans support giving dreamers a path to citizenship. yet week after week, month after month dreamers have languished in uncertainty. republicans didn't let us protect them in september, october, november, december, or january, and yet throughout all of this time wasted, i hear my colleagues and -- in the majority say such nice things about dreamers, how talented they are, how hopeful they are, how important they are. i say to them today it is getting harder and harder to take your commitment to dreamers seriously when at every opportunity you have to do something, you do nothing. instead it is beginning to look like president trump, the person responsible for ending daca, has enablers in congress that have been intent on deporting dreamers from day one. if that's not the case, now is
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the time to prove it because march 5 is just around the corner and come march america's dreamers will see their dreams extinguished with deportation orders to places they have never called home. 19,000 -- so far there are 19,000. if my colleagues want to have a debate about comprehensive immigration reform, we can have that debate some other time, but not today, not this week. not until we protect dreamers living in fear of deportation due to a president that once said about dreamers who said, quote, we're going to work something out that's going to make people happy and proud. the polls show that deporting dreamers will not make americans happy and proud. the time for talk is over, the time for kind words is over, the time for excuses is over. this week congress needs to take
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action. it's time to see who stands with dreamers and who is explicit in their -- complicit in their potential deportation. these young people have shown incredible strength in the face of diversity and crisis, they have shared their stories and dreams and in doing so have captured the hearts of the american people. i urge my colleagues in the senate not to break america's heart because our country is bigger as a country and our future is brighter when dreamers here in this country stay right where they belong. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. tillis: thank you, mr. president. in a moment i'm going to talk about the immigration debate that we're going to have here and probably before i do that though, i want to recognize that this is valentine's day. i happen to be several hundred
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miles away from my sweetheart, but i want to wish my wife, mr. president, a happy valentine's day. i made her a little card. i don't think anybody can fire me, and i want my wife to know i love her and i wish i was with her. now i want to talk about immigration reform. we heard a discussion, and sometimes i think i teleport from this chamber to the kennedy center because there's more theatrics going on here than you can find there on nip given day. -- there on nip given day. let me give you an example. the democrat made a point of saying that we came up with this term. people on the other side of the aisle have referenced chain migration in bills they
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proposed. now let's talk about the president's framework. i heard -- i was presiding just before i got up here and i heard the word hard line used. the hard-line demand of president trump. i said a year and a half ago i was criticized for saying when you talk to border patrol and homeland security, you don't need a huge wall. the president, after he was elected, after he got into office, listened to homeland security, listened to border patrol and came up with a plan that isn't a long wall across the southern border. it's a strategic plan that let's us protect the security of the homeland in the northern and southern borders. it tries to con if i --
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confiscate tons of drugs every year. it is to ensure that more gang members will be more likely to be incarcerated and less likely go into communities that many people who immigrate into this country go into. it is a plan to make sure that those who cross the border illegally are not carrying drugs in a cart or wheel well because it is using technology to search more vehicles, to make sure our homeland is safe. it also shows more compassion than president obama's daca plan. there are 690,000 people who are on daca and their future is uncertain because it's an executive order it doesn't have the force of law. it could possibly be challenged by the court. the president decided on
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september 15 of last year, congress do your job. you've been talking about immigration reform for two decades and what we have is an arguably illegal executive order by president obama that president trump kept in place for about a year and then he said, i'll going to give you all six months to do your job, something that has enduring value. now, the daca proposal only provided the illegally present person who came to this country through the decision of an adult with some certainty they wouldn't be deported but didn't give them certainty to citizenship. so people say that the president has a hard-line plan. daca allows 6 the0 -- 690,000 people who are here and hopefully not have their decision to be thrown out by the court. the president's hard-line plan that we letter from democrats on the other side of the aisle is
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to have three times as many people with a path to citizenship. citizenship, not a piece of paper that hopefully will be in place for the time you spend in the united states, but sphwhrenship so the -- citizenship. so the president's hard-line plan which legalizes two and a half times as. people not just -- has. people not just to be present, but to have citizenship. that's hard-line? the president listened. he recognizes he wants to be the president to get something done and he's willing to accept the criticism from people on my side of the aisle who don't support a path to citizenship. i do and the president does. i find it remarkable that somebody would say that a president who has endorsed a bill to provide a path to sphwhrenship to -- citizenship to 1.8 million people, two and a half more than president obama provided a temporary, if that's
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hard-line, my goodness. now border security. why is border security important? is it just purely a hard-line deportation force sending people out? no. i already talked about -- number one, hundreds of millions of doses of heroin, fentanyl and other illicit drugs cross our borders every year. we don't have the technology and infrastructure to interdict them. the $25 billion, about $18 billion would be spent for border security, about 10% to 15% on the northern border, the remainder on the southern border. when it is all said and down less than half will have a wall structure. the rest will be spent on training and additional personnel. if you have gone to a border crossing, you know the long lines they have there. it is technology that has low-intensity x-rays that you
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can drive a vehicle through and the border patrol officers can identify drug smugglers without anyone getting out of a car. that's what it is focused on as well. it is wall structures where they make sense. they don't make sense along about half of the border. let meal tell you the humanitarian case which i find remarkable that nobody on the other side of the aisle will bring up. i went to texas last year. i was on the rio grande on the border patrol boats, i was on horseback at night and i heard a lot of stories from people, including property owners. over the last 20 years 10,000 people have died trying to cross our border. that's on u.s. soil. we have no idea how many tens of thousands of people died trying to get there. 10,000 people died over the last 20 years because we didn't know where they were.
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they were on american soil, we didn't know where they were. about 1,000 were children. if that's not a case for knowing who is crossing the border, even if they don't have a claim to asylum, i don't know what is. i don't see how it is hard-line when you look at the facts, not the theater, but the facts. so i think that second pillar of the president's proposal is balanced, it's less than what he originally wanted, but it makes sense and it shows a lot of movement on his part, again, two and a half time the number of people getting a path to citizenship, more than the daca executive order proposed and border security that makes sense and not this idea of a big wall. we heard somebody say there is a dramatic cut to legal immigration and the promise we made to everybody who is in the
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line because of family relationship that is going to be broken. that is nonsense. there is no proposal like that on the table. the fact is there are 3.9 billion people in the backlog if the president's proposal is accepted will get to this country in half the time it takes today. there is about 3.9 million people waiting to come to this country because of a family relationship that we proposed that the president has proposed should be able to get here sooner. the diversity lottery is also something that i think has been -- you know, people have been misled or trying to mislead you. i will leave it to you to decide. the diversity lottery is not ending it. it is coming up with a reasonable way to use the 50,000 green cards in a way that let's us draw down the backlog sooner instead of having somebody wait 17or 20 years to get into the
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country, maybe eight or nine, but it is also a focus on the under represented countries. many countries in africa we want to make sure they have an opportunity every year to come to this country and we have made proposals that we are open to other proposals to make that a part of how the diversity lottery gets settled. 50,000 will get to come. when we say ending the diversity lottery, we're not saying ending it for 50,000 people. the last time we did any type of immigration bill, i was 5 years old. i think it is time to look at how the world has changed and maybe open your eyes and heart to a better way to do it that benefits the person trying to come to our country and benefits our country as a result of their entry. i think it can be a win-win. now, the last thing, again, on chain migration. i want to go back -- i want to find everybody who has voted for
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bills in the past and they voted for bill with legislative language that referred to chain migration because i'm sick of that kind of garbage going on the senate floor. that is just misleading. chain migration that has been used in the pass not only in our country but other countries to link people together. i'm sympathetic with some of the things the gentleman from new jersey said. so say this is a divisive term is not paying attention to your job. i have only been here three years. many of these people who were here, they voted for language that had chain migration in it. now they're saying it's something the hateful folks in our departments created to be divisive. just untrue. now, the last thing. when we're talking about legal immigration in this country, we immigrate about one million to 1.1 million people a year in this country. i for one don't have a problem with that number. i for one, if i had members on
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the other side of the aisle, some of my colleagues say, tom, we want to try and maintain that same amount of immigration. i say i'm open to it. some of my colleagues i've worked with on this bill may not be. but the way that we go about doing it needs to be modernized. how many times have i heard how we need when we have a foreign national here who graduates with an engineering degree or some degree in stem science, that we should just stable a green card -- staple a green card. how many times have we heard that? because we need high-end workers. we need welders. we need car penters. we need -- ca carpenters. at some point our economic growth is going to be limited by the resources for the job. the demand for workers are there. we've got an immigration system where about three-fourths of everybody who comes to this country come purely because of a
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family relationship. now, i bet if we dig into it, many of them actually could qualify on the basis of merit, but right now it's just a random selection that doesn't really tie to our needs as a nation and for our economic growth, for our economic security. i for one believe if we get the immigration policy right, that over the next ten years, we'll be building a case to have more legal immigration, more than the one million and 1.1 million. but if we don't fix this, we're not going to fix the underlying problem with our immigration system. so, mr. president, i actually didn't plan on speaking. i just grabbed a couple of these slides so that i could talk about it. but it's very important to me, for us -- i don't like being part of an organization that talks a lot and doesn't get anything done. over the last 17 years, that's all these folks have been doing. reelect me. i promise next year i'll get immigration reform done. next year i'll file the dream
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act and we'll get it done. guess what? it hasn't gotten done under a republican administration. president bush was sympathetic to this issue. he couldn't get it done. congress couldn't get it done. president obama comes in. i'm going to fix immigration. president obama had the votes to pass obamacare. that is -- there was a time in this chamber where not a single republican vote was necessary to pass a bill out of here. right? so if you don't need a single vote in congress that's republicans, on the house or democratic side, why didn't you get it done? because i don't think you've taken the time to construct something that makes sense, that's compassionate, that's responsible, that will have the enduring value of law. so now is the time to get it done. the only way we're going to get it done is with bipartisan cooperation. if you don't like some of the elements of the president's
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framework, instead of hammering and folding your hands and say if you don't vote on mine, i won't vote on yours, look at this and tell us how we can improve it. tell us what we need to get a vote. tell us what we could do to moderate this. to talk it a hardline bill is absurd. it's theatrics. it's the kind of stuff that's prevented this from getting down the last ten years. i hope people will have an honest discussion and debate. i hope people will offer the amendments they want to and i hope they'll be mature enough. if it fails to move on to the next one -- because i for one want to provide certainty to the daca population. those 900, you know better than me because you're in marine reserve, 900 people serving in the military people, that's more than a battalion, right? we have over 900 people serving in the military who are daca recipients. i want to file this bill. i want to get this bill to the president's desk and say welcome to this country. thank you for your service. i can't wait to go to your
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ceremony where you swear the oath as an american citizen. that's what we can do this week. but i'll guarantee you, anybody who sits here and says that the president's proposal is unfair and insincere and hardline, they're playing politics. and it makes me wonder if some of them would just as soon have this be, if you like me, i promise next year i'll fix this problem. a campaign speech. do something different for a change. now, finally, i started by wishing my wife happy valentine's day. when i get into these speeches, i worked in business boast of my career. i've been in politics. i get very frustrated with the lack of production, with the lack of results. sweetie, i'm not mad. i just get a little bit intense. when i talk about an issue where the solution is within reach. i'm not mad.
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i'm frustrated with the members of the u.s. senate who don't see the opportunity to seize this moment and get it done. so, mr. president, thank you for the opportunity. i probably went long. i apologize to anybody else who may be waiting to speak but this is the week to get it done. this is the congress to get it done. this is the president that's given us a historic opportunity. i hope we seize the day. thank you, mr. president. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. leahy: mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i ask consent the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, the senate is debating the fate of our nation's dreamers this week. and everywhere i go, people recognize the uncontestable truth that underpins our discussion. we're all a nation of immigrants. unless you're a native american, you come from a line of people who come from somewhere else. in fact, more than any other country on earth, the simple fact is a defining characteristic of our national identity. throughout our history, immigrant communities have greatly enriched our nation. their individual stories have become the american story. out of many, we have become one. my maternal grandparents
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emigrated from italy, began a business, were pillars of the community. my wife's parents emigrated from french-speaking canada, also started a business. she was born in vermont. yesterday we buried her uncle, an immigrant from canada who started off as an $8-a-week clerk in a shoe store. buried with honors at the age of 100 yesterday. and people talked about the $20 million or $30 million he's given to philanthropic causes in vermont. this $8-a-week immigrant clerk in a shoe store. i think sometimes we forget who
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we are. in the late 1800's we passed laws excluding chinese immigrants. during world war ii, we turned away jewish refugees fleeing the holocaust, turned them away at the shores of our country, and many went back to die in the gas chambers. and we know today that these were tragic mistakes fueled by foreign xenophobic rhetoric. mistakes were made we must never let be repeated. now in 2018 i'm concerned we're hearing echoes of past mistakes. anti-immigrant voices armed with the same shameful fearmongering attempting to come back in our country. in recent months dreamers have been regularly disparaged. some have even suggested dreamers pose a risk of
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terrorism or have links to international drug trafficking. these absurd depictions would be laughable if they weren't so damaging, especially those of us who remember one of the biggest terrorist attacks in our country in oklahoma city by timothy mcveigh. he was not an immigrant. he grew up there. he was born there. thankfully most americans know better. dreamers aren't a threat to our national security, not a single one. not a single one has been suspected of terrorist activities. nor do dreamers present a threat to public safety, far from it. by definition dreamers are law abiding strivers who seek to contribute to our country. brought here as children, dreamers are now our neighbors,
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our first responders, our teachers, our medical personnel. nearly 1,000 serve in our armed forces. they risk their lives to defend the only country they've ever known as home. i'll never forget one dreamer who wrote to me last year, dr. juan conte is a daca recipient. he is a resident of vermont. he was brought to mexico, brought to the united states as a young child by his mother. in 2007, tragically his mother died of cancer. showing remarkable courage and determination for a young man, dr. conday was motivated to help cancer patients like his mother. he ultimately obtained a ph.d.
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in cancer research from the university of texas, but as accomplished as he already was, dr. conday was not satisfied with just studying cancer. he wanted to treat the people who were suffering with or battling the disease. every one of us in this chamber knows somebody who suffers from or battled cancer. many have died. only after he enrolled in daca was dr. conday able to attend medical school and he is currently doing that. he is studying oncology. dr. conday hopes to spend his life in the united states treating cancer patients and researching to find a cure for the disease. this vermonter, i think all americans would agree, america is a better place with
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dr. conday in it. there are hundreds of thousands of dreamers like him, all of whom have the potential to contribute to our communities and to our country. to deny them these opportunities because they were brought here as a child would be as senseless as it is cruel. we're better than that. and this week we have an opportunity to prove it. i'm proud of those in the senate, both democrats and republicans, who are engaged in good-faith negotiations over proposals to protect our dreamers and improve our border security. i sincerely believe that we can find a path to 60 votes, and i hope the republican leadership will let us. the majority leader's decision yesterday to seek to open up the debate with a vote on a poison pill amendment about so-called sanctuary cities, which has
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nothing to do with either dreamers or border security, was not a helpful start. these kind of attempts to score political points stand in stark contrast to the bipartisan search done by leading republicans and democrats behind the scenes for a solution. so as the most senior member of this body, it's my hope that all senators focus on a bipartisan solution, not divisive distractions. i respect this institution as much as anyone. for 43 years i've been here, i've seen and i hope contributed to the good it can accomplish. i've often said that it's best the senate can and should serve as a conscious of the nation.
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we can only do so if we set aside our own self-interests, when we work across the aisle in the spirit of compromise. i know we're capable of meeting this challenge today. we've done it before. five years ago when i was chairman of the senate judiciary committee, we brought together 68 senators, democrats and republicans. we voted for an immigration bill that provided protection for dreamers, including an expedited pathway to citizenship. unfortunately the house, even though they had the votes to pass it, would not bring it up. it's time now for the senate to do so again, and this time the house to follow suit. president trump claims he'll treat dreamers with great heart. if he meant what he said he'll sign our bipartisan compromise
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that emerges. so let's get to work. future dreamers and the fate of the american dream itself lies in our hands. when i left that funeral yesterday in vermont, i thought of my wife's uncle and her parents coming here from canada to make a better life. my grandparents coming from italy. my great-grandparents coming from ireland, all who made such a mark on our little state of vermont, all for the better. and as a member of that family, how proud i am to stand here on the floor of the united states senate. i want to do more than just stand here. i want to vote for a bill to help more people like that to come to our country, to make our country b

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