The future of the DACA program hangs in the balance. The Governor of Idaho and ten Attorney Generals, including South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, have issued a deadline calling for President Trump to rescind DACA by September 5th or they will sue to end the program. Currently, 800,000 immigrant youth are protected from deportation and can work because of the DACA program. Concerned that these individuals could lose their protected status, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a joint press conference today to discuss a new version of their bi-partisan immigration bill, known as the Dream Act of 2017, which would grant legal status and a path to citizenship for some immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and who did not consciously or knowingly violate immigration laws. Senator Graham strongly urged President Trump and fellow Republicans to treat “fairly” law-abiding immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States as children. Senator Durbin stated that “hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who grew up in the U.S. are at risk for deportation,” without either the existing DACA program or the DREAM Act of 2017.
This has been a long-fought battle and a long-stalled legislative process. Indeed, the original Dream Act was proposed in 2001. DREAM stands for: Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. Several versions have made their way to the Senate Floor, the closest of which was in 2010, however, like its legislative predecessors, it too failed.
The current legislation Graham and Durbin are introducing requires applicants to have been in the United States for four years or longer, have been 17 years or younger when they arrived in the United States, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, have been employed for three years, and to pass a criminal background check, a U.S. History and Civics test, and an English proficiency test.
Immigration Attorney Edward Shulman, Esq., of the Shulman Law Group, told local New Jersey reporters this afternoon: “The Dream Act of 2017 is both heartening and praiseworthy as it represents a critically important pro-active and protective bipartisan legislative approach, sorely needed in the current political climate which has prioritized enforcement over human welfare.”