Sen. Dick Durbin told the story of Joaquin Luna’s life and death in a speech on the Senate floor this week.
Joaquin, an eighteen-year-old undocumented American, shot himself the day after Thanksgiving out of despair over his future that was being restrained by his immigration status. He was an A student approaching graduation. He played guitar in the church choir. He had a dream of becoming an engineer. He loved architecture. He designed his family’s own house. He had been accepted into great universities such as Rice and Texas A&M.
Unfortunately, despite all of his hard work, his dreams were out of his reach because of immigration status. He could not work above the table nor obtain financial aid, making college impossible. He could not pursue his dreams because he was brought across the border when he was 6 months old. Sen. Durbin recalled the word’s of Joaquin’s brother: “His world just closed. He saw that everything that he was doing was just for nothing. He was never going to be able to succeed.”
Sen. Durbin had a message for all the young people like Joaquin, the 1.7 million undocumented children and youths, to keep their “dreams alive.” “If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless because of the failure of the DREAM Act to pass in the United States Senate, there are people available to help and talk to you. You can call the national suicide prevention lifeline [at] 1800-273-8255.”
“[Without the DREAM Act] we are saying to tens of thousands like Joaquin Luna that there is no place for you in America because your parents brought you here when you were a child. Therefore, you are forever banished from being part of America’s future. That is a cruel outcome and one that we shouldn’t accept as Americans.”
“If we cannot open our arms and our hearts to those who will come here and work hard to make it a stronger nation, we will have lost one of the core elements of America’s strength and America’s future.”
“Sadly, Joaquin Luna will not be part of America’s future, but his story I hope will inspire others to step up and speak up for those who are promoting the DREAM Act. I want to bring [the DREAM Act] to the floor, again. I want to pass it. I want to make sure that the hopeless and despair that many young people feel is replaced by the hopeful belief that if they will continue to work hard in their lives and continue to be dedicated to America they can make this a better and stronger nation. Madame President, in the honor and memory of Joaquin Luna, I ask my colleagues to reconsider their position and join us in passing the DREAM Act.”