July 24, 2017

A New Bipartisan DREAM

Senators Graham and Durbin bring hope to young immigrants.

by Caitlin Martin

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The Dream Act 2017

Bipartisanship is rare in today’s politics, but Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are teaming up for another try at passing the Dream Act. The act provides a path to citizenship for young immigrants who were brought to America as children and are staying here illegally. The legislation was first introduced in 2001 and was nearly passed in 2010. These immigrants are currently allowed to stay in the country due to Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) an Obama-era program that 10 conservative attorneys general have demanded the current Administration end. These Republicans want the Administration to stop renewing or granting temporary deportation deferrals and work permits to young immigrants under DACA. They are:

  • Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas
  • Attorney General Steve Marshall of Alabama
  • Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas
  • Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden of Idaho
  • Attorney General Derek Schmidt of Kansas
  • Attorney General Jeff Landry of Louisiana
  • Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska
  • Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina
  • Attorney General and Reporter Herbert Slatery III of Tennessee
  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia

They are joined by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho

The End of DACA and the Economy

About 800,000 DREAMers have been allowed to stay in the country under DACA. Under DACA, these DREAMers are obtaining higher educational levels and getting better jobs, ultimately contributing more tax revenue. Further tax revenue is generated as they purchase cars and houses and start new businesses. A 2016 study by the Center for American Progress estimates that ending DACA would reduce GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the U.S. by about $433 billion over the next 10 years. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center estimates that about 685,000 DREAMers would become unemployed immediately leading to U.S. employers incurring $3.4 billion costs associated with terminating and replacing employees. Tax revenue will also be impacted with $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare contribution lost over the next ten years.

Although DACA remains in place, DREAMers have been arrested by ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) in recent months. The states attorneys generals who want to see DACA end have given an ultimatum — rescind DACA or we’ll take you to court — further destabilizing the future for these young immigrants.

The Path to Citizenship

Under the latest version of The Dream Act, young immigrants would be eligible for citizen ship if they are residents of the U.S. who are graduating from school or have a GED or who are pursing higher education or who serve in the military. They must pass background checks, demonstrate proficiency in English, know U.S. history, and show that they haven’t committed a felony or other serious crime.

Sen. Graham’s views on immigration were influenced by those of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who believed that resolving the immigration problem is crucial to U.S. economic stability and security.

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