With the Trump administration’s decision to gradually end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there’s a debate about what to do with the nearly 800,000 illegal aliens who benefit from this Obama-era program. It’s a program that has serious constitutional questions and has remained controversial since its inception. It was meant as a stopgap measure, and now Congress has the ability to make it right. The Department of Homeland Security announced that it would immediately begin winding down the program. In short, DACA allows illegal aliens who entered the U.S. as minors to be shielded from deportation if they meet certain requirements. If a deferment is granted, these DREAMers are able to obtain work and study permits. Earlier this afternoon, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a press conference to announce their proposed legislation to remedy this issue. PBS listed the senators’ criteria for permanent legal status:
Sen. Durbin: It is time for Congress to "do the right thing" and pass legislation to protect undocumented immigrants https://t.co/nBrqQ4zqwG— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 5, 2017
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin to those affected by DACA being rescinded: "Do not give up hope" https://t.co/IM4XoeHSvQ— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 5, 2017
Congress must act on bipartisan Dream Act now. Dreamers and their families can’t wait. My statement ? pic.twitter.com/qakyJ7GKOI— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 5, 2017
Sen.Lindsey Graham to Dreamers: "You have done nothing wrong."— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) September 5, 2017
Sen. Durbin just said that on Inauguration Day, Trump looked him in the eyes and said, don't worry about the Dreamers.— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) September 5, 2017
Graham asks Trump to "work the phones" and help Congress reach a deal: "Help us. Help us in the House. Help us in the Senate." https://t.co/yCJd9YGT8N— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) September 5, 2017
Are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children;
Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military;
Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee;
Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
Durbin added that the time for action is now, and that the DREAMers should not lose hope. Graham added that the DREAMers have done nothing wrong. The full press conference is featured below:
In July, Graham and Durbin proposed DREAM Act legislation when it was unknown if the Trump administration would defend it or not (via The Hill):
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) plan on Thursday to introduce a new version of a bill granting legal status and a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
The proposal comes as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary relief from deportation to those immigrants, who are known as "Dreamers," faces a legal challenge from Texas and nine other states.