Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Senators Durbin and Graham introduce bill that provides a path to citizenship for DREAMers

Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) reintroduced long-stalled legislation yesterday to create a path to citizenship for DREAMers.

The legal status of DREAMers has been a major flash point in the immigration policy debate since President Trump rolled back an Obama-era order protecting them from deportation. He was later blocked by a federal appeals court, but these young immigrants still live with uncertainty.

Bipartisan support for DREAMers extends to 2001, and versions of the Dream Act have been introduced in subsequent years but never passed. Despite its widespread popularity, it has gotten tied up in the broader immigration debate.

The Dream Act would allow young adults to stay in the United States if they came to the country as children, graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and pursued college, military service or at least three years of employment. More than 2 million people could be eligible; “These young people have lived in America since they were children and built their lives here,” Graham said in a statement. “There is support across the country for allowing DREAMers — who have records of achievement — to stay, work, and reach their full potential. We should not squander these young people’s talents.”

Trump has entertained backing protections for DREAMers in exchange for increased border security, namely a wall. Senate Democratic leaders had offered him $25 billion for the wall if he would support DREAMers staying in the country, but the deal fell through after intense pushback from Trump’s base.

This month, House Democrats introduced their version of the Dream Act, which includes elements of both Senate bills, that version has 221 Democratic co-sponsors and no Republican support. When the bill was introduced, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cast it as a promise kept to voters to “advance progress for all Americans and uphold our values of liberty, justice and opportunity.”