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Graham, Durbin Make Case for 'Win-Win' DREAM Act as Trump Signals 'Revisit' if Congress Fails to Save DREAMers

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, to discuss their bipartisan Dream Act, which would allow young immigrants who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON — Hours after the Trump administration announced it would cancel Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and punt the possible future deportation of 800,000 beneficiaries to Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared next to co-sponsor Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that “if there was ever a win-win in modern times, it would be the DREAM Act” revived by the pair over the summer.

“To the DREAM Act population, there are a lot of people on the Republican side of the aisle who understand your dilemma and we want to find a fair solution because you have done nothing wrong. You came here as children. You’ve contributed to society. You have passed criminal background checks. You’ve demonstrated your ability to be beneficial to the country now and the future,” Graham said at a press conference today on Capitol Hill with Durbin.

“The only thing that stands between you and certainty in your life is the Congress. That cannot be that reassuring. So here’s the deal. The Congress is going to have to up its game,” he said. “As to the president, I think he was right to terminate DACA. I believe from day one it was an unconstitutional overreach by President Obama.”

“…Seventy percent of Americans want to secure our border, control who comes to the country and create order out of chaos; 70 percent of Americans at least want to give these kids a second chance and a good life in our country. When you tell them to go home, they’ll go back to the house they were raised in. They have no other country other than America. They’re no more connected to their home country than I am to Scotland, where my grandfather came from.”

A new Morning Consult/Politico poll found 8 percent of Democrats, 12 percent of independents and 24 percent of Republicans favored deporting DACA recipients, while the rest believed they should be allowed to become citizens or at least allowed to stay in the country.

“Make the case that these kids don’t belong here, because I’m going to make the case they do, and we’re all going to vote,” Graham said. “So, from a Republican Party point of view, this is a defining moment. We need to create a step — a process forward to fix a broken immigration system.”

Consensus is possible, he argued, because “most Democrats want border security, too — we practically militarized the border in the Gang of Eight bill.”

Durbin emphasized that six months is not a lot of time to act “by Senate standards.”

“Who knows what next month’s topic du jour is going to be. Is it going to be Kim Jong-un? Is it going to be Irma, Harvey? What’s it going to be? Let’s move and do it now. That’s why we think it’s important to make the DREAM Act the law of the land now,” Durbin said. “…We need to act on this or we know the consequences are a countdown clock to deportation for 780,000 of the best, brightest young people in our country.”

Durbin noted that agreeing to a border wall in order to pass the DREAM Act would be “a wall too far.”

At a White House meeting with congressional Republican leaders on tax reform today, President Trump said he has “a great heart for the folks we’re talking about” — DACA beneficiaries — “a great love for them.”

“And people think in terms of children, but they’re really young adults. I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly,” Trump said. “And I can tell you, in speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. And really, we have no choice. We have to be able to do something, and I think it’s going to work out very well. And long-term, it’s going to be the right solution.”

This evening, Trump tweeted, “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”

President Obama, who has largely remained silent on the current administration since leaving office, issued a lengthy statement today not mentioning Trump by name but stating that “to target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong.”

“It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?” Obama said.

“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”