Durbin: With President Trump Failing To Lead, Congress Must Pass The Bipartisan Dream Act Now

WASHINGTON—Five months since the Trump Administration terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and called for Congress to come up with a legislative solution, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today once again came to the Senate floor to call on Republican leaders in Congress to pass the bipartisan Dream Act now.  

In his speech, Durbin noted that just four weeks ago—in a nationally televised White House meeting—President Trump himself acknowledged that the DACA crisis must be addressed first, before any attempt to turn to comprehensive immigration reform.  In that meeting, the President said that he wanted to protect DACA recipients, and he would sign any bipartisan bill that Congress sent him.  In reality, President Trump has walked away from three separate, bipartisan offers to fund his broadly unpopular and partisan southern border wall in exchange for the broadly popular and bipartisan Dream Act.  On the backs of Dreamers, the White House is attempting to dramatically reduce legal immigration by prohibiting American citizens from sponsoring their parents, siblings, and adult or married children as immigrants.  The President’s immigration framework would also fast-track deportations of women and children who come to our border fleeing gang and sexual violence. 

“In the past, Democrats have supported some of the President’s proposals, like changes in our family immigration system, and eliminating the diversity visa lottery. But I might remind my colleagues, that was all part of a significantly comprehensive immigration reform bill.   Now, we are being asked to accept this Administration’s proposals with no conditions and no give-or-take.  If the Administration wants to reform our legal immigration system, we have some priorities that we care for as well,” Durbin said.  “If we’re talking about protecting national security, why aren’t we closing the loopholes in the Visa Waiver Program?  Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called ‘20th hijacker’ of 9/11, tried to enter through the Visa Waiver Program.  So did Richard Reid, the ‘shoe bomber.’ And Congress should also close the loophole that lets people who enter the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program – remember, 20 million a year – we allow them to buy guns, even assault weapons, even if they are on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

More than 18,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status, and beginning in less than one month – on March 5, 2018 – every day for the following two years 1,000 Dreamers will lose their work permits and be subject to deportation.  The Trump Administration itself has said that it will take six months to implement legislation legalizing DACA recipients. 

In July, Durbin and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bipartisan Dream Act, which would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. These young people, known as Dreamers, have lived in America since they were children, built their lives here, and are American in every way except for their immigration status.