WASHINGTON – As the Senate's immigration debate got started Monday — the outcome very much uncertain — Sen. Bill Nelson told the story of a Jacksonville veteran who faced deportation.
"I have always been inspired by the story of Elisha Dawkins," Nelson began. "Let me tell you about Elisha. I found out about him because I read a news clip that he was in jail. Here was a fella, grew up in America, only knowing that he was American because he was brought to America from the Bahamas at age 6 months. He served two tours in Iraq. He came back and joined the Navy Reserves. He had a top-secret clearance. His reserve duty was in Guantanamo with that top-secret clearance. And then because of an application for a passport, he was suddenly swept up and put in jail.
"Now, fortunately, we found out about it, started raising a stink about it. It was brought to the attention in one of the court hearings by a federal judge, and the federal judge said to the assistant U.S. attorney, 'What in the world are you doing putting a fellow like this in jail?' And, of course, after that tongue lashing from a federal judge, we got involved with Elisha.
"I'm happy to report to you that Elisha is today a U.S. citizen. Elisha is a productive member of the Jacksonville community. And he is educated and he is contributing to his community. And our country is so much better off having the Dreamers. They are our people. They are among the best and the brightest."
See the rest of Nelson's remarks below.