Sen. Durbin Mum on How Many Illegal Aliens Invited to Congressional Hearing

By Penny Starr | July 5, 2011 | 4:03 PM EDT

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) . (AP File Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( – At a June 28 hearing on the DREAM Act, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) proudly announced that the congressional hearing room was filled with illegal aliens and he introduced some of them by name. But Durbin now is not saying exactly how many illegals were there, how they were selected to attend, and whether any of their parents were with them in the room.

“Young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act call themselves DREAMers,” Durbin said at the hearing in reference to legislation he introduced that would to give special legal status to illegal aliens who were brought to the country illegally by their parents when they were minors. “And over the years, I've met a lot of them.”

“And hundreds of them are here today,” Durbin said. “I want to introduce a few of them.”

After introducing the first, Tereza Lee, applause broke out.  Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in the room to testify, also applauded the illegal immigrant.

Durbin then said “no politician ever wants to stop the applause, but we have committee rules, and we ask you to please hold your reactions, positive or negative, to yourself. Thank you.” submitted several questions by e-mail and telephone to Durbin’s office, asking how many illegal aliens were invited to the hearing, how were they selected and whether or not any of the “undocumented students” were accompanied by their parents.

The senator’s office has not responded to those inquiries.

At the hearing, Durbin said he did not have time to introduce all of the people in the audience but asked all the “DREAMers” to stand up. At that time, most people in the room stood up.

The room where the hearing took place, Room 216 in the Hart Senate office building, has an occupancy capacity of 240 people, according to the Senate Rules Committee’s Web site.

Under federal law, it is illegal for immigrants to enter the United States without permission or for an immigrant to overstay a visa. It is also illegal for U.S. businesses to knowingly hire illegal aliens.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, would give legal status to illegal aliens who were brought to the United States by their parents at age 15 or younger if they have been in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, and if they meet certain education or military service requirements.

Questions sent by to Durbin’s press secretary, Ben Garmisa, by e-mail are presented below:

1. How many undocumented students were invited to the hearing by Sen. Durbin?

2. How were they selected?

3. Were any or some of them accompanied by their parents?

4. What is the total number of undocumented individuals who were invited to attend the hearing and how many attended the hearing?