WASHINGTON – A Republican and a Democratic senator just introduced a bill that would grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. Senators Dick Durbin D-Ill and Lindsey Grraham R-S.C. introduced the legislation June 20th that would grant eligible young immigrants a pathway to earn permanent residence and subsequently citizenship.
“These young people have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here,” Graham said in a statement. “We should not squander these young people’s talents and penalize our own nation. Our legislation would allow these young people – who grew up in the United States – to contribute more fully to the country they love.”
The bill would require immigrants commonly known as DREAMers to pass background checks, be a high school graduate or have a GED. They’d also be required to strive to obtain a college degree, legally work in the U.S. for three years or serve in the military. Those who have been convicted of a felony or pose a danger to the United States would not be eligible.
“I’ll do everything in my power as a United States Senator to protect these DREAMers and give them the chance to become American citizens so they can contribute to a brighter future for all Americans,” Durbin said in a statement.
The bill comes just days after Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said he was unsure if President Donald Trump would fight to maintain the program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA was an executive order signed by former president Barack Obama that allowed undocumented youth to legally work and made them a low priority for deportation.
Recently Attorneys General from several states have threatened to sue the Trump administration if the president does not end the DACA program.
The newly introduced DREAM Act would be a legislative solution to DACA and render the court challenge moot if passed.
Graham challenged the Republican Party to stand up for this legislation he says treats these young immigrants fairly.
“The question for the Republican Party is, what do we tell these people? How do we treat them? Here’s my answer. We treat them fairly. We do not pull the rug out from under them,” Graham said, adding those immigrants, “are no more connected with a foreign country than I am.”
The bill is still in it’s infancy and would have to first be passed in the Senate, then in the House before having a chance to land on President Donald Trump’s desk.