Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening in strong support of the DREAM Act of 2010, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 216 to 198. The DREAM Act is common-sense legislation to give hundreds of thousands of young people brought to our country without a choice the chance to earn legal status and contribute to our country's well-being by serving in the U.S. Armed Forces or pursuing a college education.
Below are the Speaker's remarks.
Speaker Pelosi on the DREAM Act:
“And so tonight we have an opportunity to identify with the aspirations of our founders. And we know that if we are going to have a better future for our country, it is important for us to recognize the children who are here...”
“The DREAM Act is about Pedro Ramirez, a student government president at California State University, Fresno. He was brought here when he was 3 years old and was unaware of his lack of citizenship until he was a senior in high school. In the midst of the controversy of his status, he reminded us: ‘The DREAM Act itself symbolizes what it is to be an American.' It's about equality; it's about opportunity; it's about the future.”
“I thank the gentleman for yielding and for giving us this opportunity this evening to come to the floor of the House on behalf of many children in America.
“It is one of those evenings when we can associate ourselves very directly with the aspirations of our Founding Fathers. How blessed we were at the beginning of our country, even before our country began, that these brave and courageous people stood up for independence for our country.
“And when they established our country, they designed a Great Seal of the country, and it said, ‘Novus ordo seclorum' - ‘a new order for the ages.' How confident they were, how optimistic they were. No country in the history of the world had ever had founders founding on a new principle of equality of people and freedom, separating themselves from a great military power by winning independence and saying this was about a new order for the future. And they could say that with confidence because they had a commitment to make the future better from one generation to the next.
“That became known as the American dream eventually. And people flocked to our shores to be part of the American dream, and when they came they brought their hopes, their aspirations, their determination, their optimism for a better future for their families and for the next generation. And in coming here, these newcomers, at that time a couple hundred years ago and to this day, by coming with that optimism and hope and commitment to a better future for the next generation, they made America more American.
“And so tonight we have an opportunity to identify with the aspirations of our founders. And we know that if we are going to have a better future for our country, it is important for us to recognize the children who are here. They've come from every continent in the world--from Europe, from Asia, from Australia, from Latin America. My colleague, Congresswoman Clarke talked about children coming from the Caribbean. A lot of attention is paid to those coming from Latin America, but they have come from all over the world.
“Many of them, to this day, do not know what their legal status is. Some find out in a most unfortunate door when ICE shows up at their door to say, ‘You weren't born here' because their parents may not have told them that. But their identity is all American. Some of them don't even speak the language of the country of origin of their parents. So many of them come here with this great patriotism; their families come with this great patriotism.
“Many of these young people serve in the military, and so they strengthen our national security. Secretary Gates has said, ‘The DREAM Act represents an opportunity to expand the recruitment and readiness of our armed services.' That's what the Secretary of Defense said.
“We all know that the competitiveness of America depends on innovation and innovation begins in the classroom, and these young people have an array of skills and talent, whether they are in the military, whether they are in college, whether “they go to graduate school. And we know that many of them cannot reach their professional aspirations because that is when they bump into the fact that they are not fully documented.
“If you have ever been to a DREAM Act occasion, when young people come together and speak about their love for America, you will hear anthems of patriotism that, again, would make you so very proud in how it echoes what our founders had in mind.
“So we have an opportunity tonight to solve a problem, solve a problem for these young people, to help solve problems for our military and national security, to help solve problems about innovation and education and making our country stronger economically as well as militarily.
“This bill does not cost money. In fact, it sends money back to the Treasury -- about over $2.5 billion. But, as studies show, it would be hundreds of billions of dollars that will be paid in taxes by these young people when they reach their full aspiration.
“The DREAM Act is about Pedro Ramirez, a student government president at California State University, Fresno. He was brought here when he was 3 years old and was unaware of his lack of citizenship until he was a senior in high school. In the midst of the controversy of his status, he reminded us: ‘The DREAM Act itself symbolizes what it is to be an American.' It's about equality; it's about opportunity; it's about the future.
“Young people like Pedro and so many others like him represent the best reasons to pass the DREAM Act. We always think in numbers; think of these individual young people and how they identify with America. They have no other identity in many cases. They want to participate in our nation's future. They want to help build it. They want to use their degrees and their skills to help build something better for the next generation. And that's what our founders had in mind when they said ‘Novus ordo seclorum'-- a new order. It's on the dollar bill, in case you have a dollar in your pocket you take out the great seal of the United States -- ‘Novus ordo seclorum.' With that confidence, later to be called ‘The American Dream.'
“We owe it to our founders and we owe it to these young people. We owe it to the future to cast your vote for a bill that makes America more American. And I want to thank Mr. Conyers, I want to thank Howard Berman, the author of this legislation, Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren also on the Judiciary Committee, certainly Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Chair of the Hispanic Caucus, Congressman Xavier Becerra, part of the House Leadership, Luis Gutierrez, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But it is not confined to the Hispanic Caucus. As Representative Clarke has said, this is about kids from all over the world.
“And as Steny Hoyer said earlier, when the Prime Minister of Ireland came here and spoke, and when we attended the festivities each year surrounding the visit of the Taoiseach, they always talk about immigration, they always talk about this issue. This is one piece of it. And I know the gentleman got up and said he couldn't be for this because it didn't have a Motion to Recommit -- this isn't about a Motion to Recommit. This is about a commitment to our future. This is about a recognition of what these young people can mean for our country. And so I hope that that recognition will result in a very positive vote and I hope a bipartisan vote in support of making the future better for the next generation, which is the strength of our great country.
“Thank you all. And please vote ‘aye' on the legislation.”