A new bipartisan immigration push would go even further than previous failed reform efforts to provide rights and protections to undocumented people brought to America as children.
In direct opposition to President Donald Trump’s inclination to allow “Dreamers” be placed back in line for deportation, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin introduced a bill that would add another path to permanent residency for this group of undocumented immigrants.
The latest version of the DREAM Act, which has been introduced roughly a dozen times, also would give states new authority to grant in-state tuition rates to these undocumented immigrants.
“These kids are running out of asphalt. They’re running out of runway,” Graham of South Carolina said Thursday when announcing the legislation. “They came out of the shadows at the invitation of their government. They’ve identified themselves and their legal standing is now in question. It becomes an almost moral decision.”
A detailed section-by-section outline of the bill can be seen here:
The legislation is largely similar to the past version of the legislation that would provide a path to legalization for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, if they go to college or serve in the military for at least two years. This draft would provide an additional path for qualifying immigrants who have been employed for at least three years, of which 75 percent was authorized.
“Democrats failed to pass the DREAM Act seven years ago when they were in power,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, co-founder of Dreamactivist.org. “They shouldn't expect undocumented youth to wait a second longer for them to take action. DACA has always just been a temporary solution and we are activating our over 650,000 members across the country and will ensure passage of the DREAM Act this congressional session.”
Trump, who has returned to a hard-line position on immigration, will not support this bill, according to his staff. A White House official told McClatchy that Trump is instead focused on enforcement measures that crack down on illegal immigration.
“The president campaigned on enforcement first, and that is where his focus is,” the official said.
Aboard Air Force One last week, talking with reporters en route to Paris, Trump indicated he was still agonizing over what to do about DACA.
“It’s a decision that I make and it’s a decision that’s very very hard to make,” he said. “I really understand the situation now. I understand the situation very well. What I’d like to do is a comprehensive immigration plan. But our country and political forces are not ready yet.”
He added, “There are two sides of a story. It’s always tough.”
Graham said Congress needed to act to protect the roughly 800,000 young immigrants who could lose their special protected status, called DACA, because of a court challenge from Texas and nine other states.
Republican officials from 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have pressed the Trump administration to phase out the controversial program put in place in 2012 after a congressional effort to pass the DREAM Act failed.
The Trump administration has until Sept. 5 to decide whether to rescind the program or face a court challenge by the states. And Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of Congress this month that the program is unlikely to withstand a legal challenge.