- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sen. Lindsey Graham said that the Trump administration’s decision to reverse protections for children brought here illegally will be a “defining moment” for the Republican Party.

“We need to create a step — a process for — to fix a broken immigration system. Starting with the Dream Act kids, I think, is a good downpayment on what will eventually be a comprehensive solution to a broken immigration system,” Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, said at a joint press conference with fellow Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois Democrat.

The two senators introduced the Dream Act earlier this year, which would allow those that qualified for legal statues under President Obama’s immigration policy known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The Dream Act would require those looking to qualify for legal status to arrive in the U.S. before they turned 18, pass background checks and meet other requirements such as enrolling in college or employed. They also must have been in the U.S. for four years prior to applying.

Mr. Graham said that on the Republican side, constitutional conservatives should support the Dream Act since it shows Congress passing a law rather than an executive order. He also said it’s a chance for President Trump to show “where your heart is at.”

“To the president, you have a chance to show the nation as the president of all of us, where your heart is at. You have a chance, as the leader of the Republican Party, to do two things: say that we are the party of constitutional process. That we believe in doing it right, but right means taking care of these kids,” he said.

But Mr. Durbin said that this is not an issue Congress and the president can get into a lengthy debate about since the Trump administration set a six-month deadline before the protections are removed. 

“Six months is to March 5 so we have plenty of time right? Not by Senate standards we don’t,” Mr. Durbin said. “It’s important to make the Dream Act the law of the land now.”

He also added that the decision to remove those protections put in place by former President Obama was a disappointment.

“The first and only direct conversation which I’ve had with President Trump was the day of his inauguration and I thanked him for the kind words he said about Dreamers and DACA. He looked me in the eye and he said don’t worry about those kids we’re going to take care of those dreamers,” Mr. Durbin said. “Today this announcement that was handed down…tells us that the clock is ticking.”

He added he’d like to deal with this issue by the end of the month since both the pending deadline and hefty Senate agenda could distract from moving legislation forward in time.

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