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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson champions Dreamers in Washington: 'America is stronger'

7

December

Sen. Bill Nelson has stepped into the growing debate over the fate of immigrant "Dreamers," using a floor speech to honor a Jacksonville-area veteran who faced legal trouble in 2011.

“Always he thought he was an American citizen,” Nelson said Tuesday of Elisha Dawkins, who was brought to the U.S. when he was six months old by his Bahamian mother.

A paperwork issue arose and Dawkins, who served in the Army and Navy Reserves, was sent to a detention center, facing possible deportation. Nelson stepped in.

Today, Dreamers face uncertainty with President-elect Donald Trump vowing to strip away the legal protections afforded under an Obama administration program. A bipartisan group of Senators is working on legislation to help and Nelson signaled his support.

(Sen. Marco Rubio, who once tried to come up with his own bill, is not part of the effort and won’t comment.)

“I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. The DREAMers are our neighbors, they're our friends,” Nelson said. “They are our high school valedictorians, and they are our veterans. They were brought to this country before they ever even knew of the significance of their trip, and they have benefited our communities greatly.

“And so it's clear that America is stronger for a person like Elisha Dawkins. And as this Congress comes to a close, I want to remind all of us and urge us to remember next year ,when there's an attempt to turn around that White House executive order, I want us to remember the faces of people like Elisha Dawkins, and I want us to come together and to acknowledge their many contributions to this great country.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 9:20am]

    

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