WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) spoke on the House floor
this morning to share the stories of four Rhode Islanders who are enrolled in the
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Cicilline is a co-sponsor
of the bipartisan Dream Act (H.R.3440) to establish a path to citizenship for
Mr. Speaker, I also want to spend a moment to speak about President Trump’s decision
to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It is one of
cruelest presidential actions in recent memory.
This was a shameful moment for our country. America has always stood as a beacon of
freedom and opportunity. But not right now.
The DACA program has allowed nearly 800,000 Dreamers to work, study, and serve their
communities and nation. That includes nearly 1,300 Dreamers in my home state of
The Dreamers are workers and taxpayers. They pay $3 billion in taxes each year,
including $2.6 million in my home state. They contribute $2 billion each year to
Social Security and another $470 million to Medicare.
They didn’t choose to come here. They were brought here by their parents as very
young children. They love this country. They share our values. They are contributing
to their communities every single day.
They are young men and women like Lesdin Salazar, a 22-year old Rhode Islander who
came here from Guatemala with her parents when she was seven years old. Lesdin was a
high school junior when President Obama signed an executive order to establish DACA.
She was later accepted to Rhode Island College where she is paying out of pocket
today to pursue a degree in teaching. Lesdin also works at Calcutt Middle School in
Central Falls, Rhode Island, where she helps kids who need behavioral and emotional
support. But she will have to give up this dream unless Congress acts.
The same is true of Ana Abigail Molina, a 27-year old Rhode Islander who came to the
United States when she was just six years old.
Today, Ana works at Thundermist Health Center and has dreams of going back to school
to become a surgical technologist.
And like so many Dreamers, Ana doesn’t really remember much of the country where she
was born. She considers herself an American.
So does Javier Juarez, a young man who just graduated from Rhode Island College and
is planning to attend graduate school on an academic scholarship at Brown University
starting this fall. His dream is to one day attend Harvard Law School.
Javier has been living in Rhode Island for 18 years. Before DACA, he couldn’t drive,
get a good job, or go to college. But now he’s the first member of his family to
graduate from a four-year university. He too will have to give up his American Dream
unless Congress acts.
And finally, Maribel Rivera Sosa, who came to Rhode Island from Mexico at the age of
9. When she graduated high school five years ago, Maribel didn’t think she’d be able
to attend college. But just days later, when President Obama established DACA,
Maribel’s opportunities became limitless.
She was able to attend the Community College of Rhode Island while working three
separate jobs. And after earning an associate’s degree, Maribel enrolled at Johnson
and Wales University. Her dream is to earn a master’s degree in health
Who among us thinks that someone who works three jobs shouldn’t be able to follow
This is just cruel.
President Trump is ripping apart hundreds of thousands of families and injecting
chaos and uncertainty into the lives of members of our community who know no other
home than America.
And if Congress does not replace DACA with the DREAM Act, it will result in $460
billion in lost economic activity over the next decade, including $61 million in
Republicans in Congress need to bring the Dream Act to the floor right now. We need
a permanent solution.
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Dream Act. We need to bring that
bill to the floor.
Every Republican who disagrees with President Trump’s actions needs to tell Speaker
Ryan to bring the Dream Act to the floor.
This Congress must act in a manner worthy of a country that has inspired these young
Dreamers and pass the Dream Act without delay.