Senators Durbin, Graham Try to Jump-start Dream Act

Isaac De Luna and Gabriela Hernandez

Isaac De Luna and Gabriela Hernandez

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told voters who support deporting children covered under the DREAM Act that he didn't want their vote.

Graham was joined by IL senator Dick Durbin, who first introduced legislation of the same name 16 years ago. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), both of whom worked with Durbin and Graham on the 2013 reform effort.

That puts so-called Dreamers ― young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S.as children ― in an even more tenuous position than they were in already under a president who has promised to ramp up deportations. After receiving conditional residence status, applicants would have eight years to qualify for lawful permanent resident status by completing two years of higher education or military service or three years of employment. "We have got to have a practical solution to the 11 million", Graham said at a press conference today alongside Sen. "Instead of frightening kids, we should empower them to fulfill their potential".

Led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the group of Democrats is twice the size of the 10-state coalition of Republican officials that have threatened to sue the Trump administration if it does not start to phase out the program by September 5.

Attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia are urging President Trump to save an Obama-era program that protects almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation, and offering to help him defend it in court.

In the wake of ongoing threats to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protects "DREAMers" brought to the United States as children, lawmakers are holding a round-table for "DREAMers" who are anxious about being deported. "We're also pleased that this bill responds to the complex realities of undocumented youth-the majority of whom live in low-income families-and recognizes the broad range of talents and contributions they bring to our nation".

Graham and Durbin have sponsored a number of versions of the Dream Act since the administration of President George W. Bush, but Congress has never been able to agree on a final version. White House legislative director Marc Short, however, said in an off-camera briefing (as reported by The Hill) that the administration is unlikely to support the latest bill: "The administration has opposed the Dream Act and we are likely to be consistent in that".

In addition to addressing the status of Dreamers, the new legislation seeks to restore the authority of states to grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants. "DACA sensibly guides immigration officials' exercise of their enforcement discretion and reserves limited resources to address individuals who threaten our communities, not those who contribute greatly to them". But Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly told lawmakers last week that the program might not survive a legal challenge.

Graham added that he hoped Trump "would be the man who started the country on the road to reform".

"The best way to do it is for Congress and the administration to work together and pass a law, not an executive order", Graham said then. What I'd like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. "Wouldn't it be ironic if the man who started his campaign talking about illegal immigration in a very tough way would be the man who started the country on the path of solving the problem?" "When they write the history of these times, I'm going to be with these kids".

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