Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Dreamers
March 27, 2019

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) reintroduced legislation Tuesday to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, an effort lawmakers have attempted for nearly two decades. 

The Dream Act (S. 874) would allow young adults to stay in the United States if they came here as children, graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and pursued college, military service, or at least three years of employment. Graham and Durbin introduced the same bill in the last Congress, and indeed a version of it has been introduced in most congressional sessions since 2001.

The Senate bill follows legislation introduced by House Democrats—the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6)—on March 12. ACE sent a letter March 20 to the House in support of that measure and supports the Senate bill as well, ACE President Ted Mitchell said in a statement Tuesday. 

“We urge the Senate to swiftly advance this legislation and also applaud other efforts by Congress to safeguard the futures of these bright and talented individuals,” he wrote. “We look forward to working with Sens. Graham and Durbin as this bill moves through the Senate. And we again remind all members of Congress: The time to act is not just now, it’s long past due.”

The legal status of Dreamers has been a point of contention in the immigration policy debate for a number of years, gaining more widespread attention with President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order in 2012. Although President Trump sought to rescind DACA in September 2017, federal courts have blocked the rescission and the Supreme Court has not yet taken up the case, so it remains intact (although no new registrations are being accepted). 

Congress has so far failed to act despite bipartisan support on Capitol Hill and widespread support across the country for permanent legal protections for Dreamers.

For more information on this issue, see the Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition webpage.