Joaquin Luna has become the poster-child for the resurrection of the American DREAM Act, an initiative to give permanent residency in the United States to a select group of illegal minors.
The 18-year-old's tale of suicide on Friday in Mission over fears he would never achieve his dream to become an engineer because of his undocumented status, is echoed on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Brought to the United States as an infant, Joaquin attended our nation's public schools, played the guitar at his church, and hoped to go to college and achieve the American dream," Congressman Ruben Hinojosa said on the House floor.
Joaquin's family stand behind their belief the Juarez-Lincoln High School senior decided to kill himself because of his own fears of not succeeding in the future without acquiring a social security number to work.
Congress blocked the DREAM Act last year.
The proposed legislation would allow students who graduate from high school or earn a GED the opportunity to obtain legal status if they complete 2 years of college or military service and have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years.
"In the Rio Grande Valley of deep South Texas and across the country, DREAM students have excelled in school, and become valedictorians, and advanced placement scholars, and student leaders, despite facing difficult circumstances," the democratic congressman from Texas said.
Joaquin's untimely death undoubtedly casts a dramatic spotlight on the hundreds of thousands of illegal-immigrant students who are caught in the middle of a decision their parents made when they were young and the realities of U.S. immigration law.
A source close to the suicide investigation claims the DREAM Act is never mentioned in any of Joaquin's notes he left to family members and a friend.
Those who don't support the DREAM Act, say it amounts to nothing more than amnesty.
FLOOR REMARKS FOR CONGRESSMAN RUB%N HINOJOSA
URGE SUPPORT FOR THE DREAM ACT - HONOR THE LIFE OF JOAQUIN LUNA
DECEMBER 1, 2011
MR. CHAIRMAN, IT IS WITH GREAT SADNESS THAT I RISE TO URGE MY COLLEAGUES, ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, TO PASS THE AMERICAN DREAM ACT. THIS PAST WEEKEND, I LEARNED OF THE TRAGIC DEATH OF JOAQUIN LUNA, A SENIOR AT JUAREZ LINCOLN HIGH SCHOOL IN MISSION, TEXAS WHO TOOK HIS LIFE BECAUSE HE BELIEVED THAT HE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO FULFILL HIS DREAM OF BECOMING AN ENGINEER, EARNING HIS CITIZENSHIP, AND LEADING A FULL AND PROSPEROUS LIFE IN AMERICA.
BROUGHT TO THE UNITED STATES AS AN INFANT, JOAQUIN ATTENDED OUR NATION'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS, PLAYED THE GUITAR AT HIS CHURCH, AND HOPED TO GO TO COLLEGE AND ACHIEVE THE AMERICAN DREAM.
I CANNOT EXPRESS THE SORROW I FEEL ON THE LOSS OF SUCH A TALENTED YOUNG MAN. I WANT TO EXTEND MY HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO JOAQUIN'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS; I CANNOT IMAGINE THE PAIN THEY ARE SUFFERING. IT IS ESPECIALLY HEARTBREAKING TO KNOW THAT MANY OF US IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PASSED THE DREAM ACT AT THIS TIME LAST YEAR, ONLY TO SEE THE LEGISLATION HELD UP IN THE U.S. SENATE BY A VOTE OF 55 TO 41.
TODAY, AS JOAQUIN LUNA'S BODY IS LAID TO REST, I BELIEVE IT'S IMPERATIVE TO UNDERSCORE THE URGENCY OF PASSING THE DREAM ACT IN THE 112TH CONGRESS AND RENEWING HOPE FOR DREAM STUDENTS.
AS A PROUD COSPONSOR OF H.R. 1842, "THE DEVELOPMENT, RELIEF, AND EDUCATION FOR ALIEN MINORS ACT OF 2011" (THE DREAM ACT), I URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA AND MY COLLEAGUES IN THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE TO PUT THEIR IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES ASIDE AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
NOW MORE THAN EVER, WE MUST GIVE THESE YOUNG PEOPLE AN OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE THEIR COLLEGE AND CAREER GOALS, RESOLVE THEIR IMMIGRATION STATUS, AND EARN THEIR CITIZENSHIP.
THE DREAM ACT WOULD ALLOW THESE STUDENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EARN LEGAL STATUS IF THEY: WERE 15 YEARS OLD OR YOUNGER WHEN THEY WERE BROUGHT TO AMERICA; ARE LONG-TERM U.S. RESIDENTS AND HAVE LIVED IN THE UNITED STATES FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS BEFORE THE ENACTMENT OF THE LAW; HAVE GOOD MORAL CHARACTER; GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL OR OBTAIN A GED; AND COMPLETE TWO YEARS OF COLLEGE OR MILITARY SERVICE IN GOOD STANDING.
HAVING BEEN BROUGHT BY THEIR PARENTS TO THE UNITED STATES AS CHILDREN, THESE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN KNOW AMERICA AS THEIR HOME.
WITHOUT QUESTION, DREAM STUDENTS EXEMPLIFY THE BEST OF AMERICAN IDEALS: SUCH AS HARD WORK, PERSEVERANCE, AND THE DESIRE TO CONTRIBUTE TO OUR NATION'S WORKFORCE, ECONOMY AND CIVIC LIFE.
IN THE RO GRANDE VALLEY OF DEEP SOUTH TEXAS AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY, DREAM STUDENTS HAVE EXCELLED IN SCHOOL, AND BECOME VALEDICTORIANS, AND ADVANCED PLACEMENT SCHOLARS, AND STUDENT LEADERS, DESPITE FACING DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES.
AS RANKING MEMBER FOR THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE TRAINING, I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT DREAM STUDENTS CAN HELP AMERICA ACHIEVE PRESIDENT OBAMA'S AMBITIOUS HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE COMPLETION GOALS BY THE YEAR 2020.MANY OF THESE STUDENTS ARE WORKING TIRELESSLY TO EARN THEIR HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE DIPLOMAS AND ASPIRE TO BECOME PROFESSIONALS IN THE SECTORS OF OUR WORKFORCE WHICH NEED THEIR TALENT, SKILLS, AND INGENUITY.
IN THE AREAS OF SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS (STEM), FOR EXAMPLE, OUR COUNTRY MUST TRAIN A NEW GENERATION OF HIGH-SKILLED SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS, AND MATHEMATICIANS -- TO BOLSTER SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY AND SPUR TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION. SIMPLY STATED, THESE TALENTED YOUTH CAN HELP OUR NATION INCREASE ITS GLOBAL COMPETITIVENESS AND BE THE INNOVATORS OF TOMORROW.
FINALLY, IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THE DREAM ACT HAS ENJOYED BROAD, BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FROM MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. THEY INCLUDE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL, AND CARLOS GUTIERREZ, FORMER SECRETARY OF COMMERCE UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH.
CHANCELLORS AND UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS AND THOUSANDS OF STUDENTS, CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS, AND PROMINENT EDUCATION, BUSINESS, RELIGIOUS LEADERS, AND ELECTED OFFICIALS SUPPORT THE DREAM ACT BECAUSE IT IS HUMANE AND SENSIBLE. IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO!
I ESPECIALLY WANT TO THANK REPRESENTATIVE HOWARD BERMAN AND REP. LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD (ORIGINAL SPONSOR) AND SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN FOR THEIR EXTRAORDINARY LEADERSHIP ON THIS ISSUE.
IN CLOSING, I URGE MY COLLEAGUES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE TO JOIN ME IN HONORING THE LIFE OF JOAQUIN LUNA BY COSPONSORING H.R. 1842, "THE DREAM ACT" AND GIVING THESE DESERVING STUDENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE MEANINGFUL CONTRIBUTIONS AS A PART OF OUR NATION'S WORKFORCE, IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF ALL AMERICANS.
I YIELD BACK THE BALANCE OF MY TIME.