May 1, 2013
Las Vegas, NV- Nevada Senator Harry Reid joined elected officials, labor, and faith leaders to speak at the May 1st March for Citizenship in Las Vegas. Senator Reid's remarks as prepared for delivery are below:
As a Senator from Nevada, I have witnessed firsthand the heartbreak our broken immigration system causes for immigrants and their families.
This issue is personal to me. It’s personal to you. It’s certainly personal for Ricardo.
And it’s personal for Blanca Gamez [gAHm-ez]. Blanca was brought to the United States from Mexico when she was just a tiny baby – when she was only 7 months old.
She doesn’t even remember the country where she was born.
Blanca is a young woman with everything going for her.
She’s smart. She’s talented. She’s driven. And she grew up in the greatest country in the world.
But there’s one thing she didn’t have until recently: a social security number.
Thanks to President Obama’s brave action to protect students like Blanca, she can now get a social security number, work and drive legally.
And she no longer lives in fear of being deported.
But when Blanca turned 16 and all her friends got their driver’s licenses, Blanca was left behind.
“You need nine numbers,” her parents told her – referring to the social security number that opens doors American citizens take for granted.
Blanca’s parents came to American seeking the same thing generations of immigrants before them sought – the American Dream.
But because they brought Blanca to America without the proper documentation, this upstanding young woman faces challenges her American-born peers don’t face.
She loves this country just like they do.
And she dreams the same dreams that they do.
Yet in a nation founded by immigrants, Blanca has to work twice as hard to achieve them.
That hasn’t stopped her from getting her Bachelor’s degree in political science from UNLV.
And someday, she’d like to go to the Boyd School of Law.
This is what Blanca told me: “My parents brought me into this country to strive for greatness and that's exactly what I plan to do.”
Blanca has worked hard to achieve her dreams.
Now Congress must work hard to ease the path for Blanca, for all the DREAMers and and every immigrant family building a better life here in America.
Washington owes Blanca permanent solutions – solutions that are tough but fair.
Solutions that fix our broken legal immigration system.
Solutions that punish unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and drag down wages for every worker in America.
Solutions that pull 11 million people out of the shadows, help them get right with the law and learn English.
Solutions that put them on the path to citizenship.
We can’t do this piecemeal. And we can’t do it without a pathway to earned citizenship.
I pledge that I will do everything in my power as Majority Leader to get a bill across the finish line.
Nothing short of success is acceptable to me.
But I’ll need your help and your support to get done. You need to stay involved and keep making your voices heard.
For Blanca’s sake, it’s time to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
For Ricardo’s sake, it’s time to pass immigration reform.
For your sake, it’s time to pass immigration reform.
And for the sake of every American, it’s time to pass immigration reform.