Durbin: Olympic gold medalist's story is the story of immigration in US

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Kavanaugh paper chase heats up MORE (D-Ill.) held up Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim on Tuesday to argue against President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE's call for a merit-based immigration system, saying that Kim's father would not have been allowed to come to the U.S. under the restrictions proposed by Trump. 

"Let's remember, Chloe Kim's story is the story of immigration in America," Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said on Senate floor. "Chloe Kim's story is the story of people who come to these shores, determined to make a life."

"They don't bring wealth. Many of them don't even bring proficiency in English. They certainly, in many cases, don't bring advanced degrees," he added. "They only come here with a determination to make a better life for themselves and a better country for all of us."

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Kim, 17, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, won her first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Monday. 

After her victory, Kim acknowledged the challenges her father took in leaving South Korea and coming to the U.S. in 1982.

"Leaving your life behind and chasing your dream because your kid is passionate about this sport,” she told reporters, according to NBC News. “I think today I did it for my family, and I am so grateful to them."

Durbin's speech on Tuesday took aim at Trump's call to create a merit-based immigration system that values immigrants who speak English; hold higher degrees in math, science or related fields; or are considered high-skill workers, among other requirements. 

Trump has said that such a system would ensure the U.S. accepts only immigrants who will benefit the country. Opponents, however, say the president's proposal discounts millions of immigrants who have worked hard to build better lives in the U.S., despite coming to the country with little.