Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine urged his colleagues to support the new immigration bill, and he chose to do so by giving his entire speech on the U.S. Senate floor Tuesday in Spanish.
For those senators who aren’t bilingual, Kaine’s office was required to provide an English translation.
According to a press release on Kaine’s website, he asked for bipartisan support of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, while noting the positive impact the bill would have on Virginia.
To deliver his speech in Spanish on the Senate floor required the unanimous consent of the Senate, the Washington Times reported.
The New York Times reported Kaine was the first to deliver an entire speech in another language in the U.S. Senate.
“I think people were probably surprised,” Kaine told the NY Times. “One of my people got a call by a Latino staffer in the House and said, ‘I have waited 20 years to see this happen.’”
Touching on amnesty for illegal immigrants, Kaine explained why he chose to deliver his address in Spanish.
From the Kaine press release:
During his remarks, Kaine said it was not only necessary to debate this bill in English, but also in other languages such as Spanish that are spoken across the country.
“I think it is appropriate that I spend a few minutes explaining the bill in Spanish, a language that has been spoken in this country since Spanish missionaries founded St. Augustine, Florida in 1565,” said Kaine. “Spanish is also spoken by almost 40 million Americans who have a lot at stake in the outcome of this debate.”
The proposed bill in the Senate would reform the nation’s immigration system and create a responsible path to citizenship, improve the employment verification system, strengthen border security and create a rational approach to future legal immigration that recognizes the value of strong families. A report by the Center for American Process estimates comprehensive immigration reform would increase economic activity in Virginia by $16.3 billion over the next decade.
Kaine also noted this solution isn’t just about benefits to the nation’s economy, attracting the most talented people to Virginia and the country, or about necessary improvements to border security. It is also about many Virginians who have long awaited a solution that will provide more stability in their lives, including the many DREAM Act-eligible young people who have only known the United States as their home.