In a joint press conference on Thursday, July 20th Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced the reintroduction of the DREAM Act, a bill to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for certain long-term residents who entered the U.S. as children.  This bill is a bipartisan effort to create a way for nearly 800,000 undocumented children and adults (known as DREAMers), who were brought to the U.S. at no fault of their own, to gain permanent legal status and to pursue their educational and employment goals without threat of deportation.

Senators Durbin and Graham were in complete agreement about the importance of this legislation in their joint appearance. For a moment, they set aside their political differences and worked together for a shared interest—an interest in the lives of young people who have grown up singing the star spangled banner as well as the interest of growing our national economy.

Senator Durbin has been a key player in introducing this bill. He has personally been working on this issue for over 15 years. At the press conference, he stated that there are two basic premises for this bipartisan legislation. The first being that young people should not be held responsible for the errors of their parents. The second is that, “We believe young people who were brought to this country as children, who have no criminal record, who are prepared to serve this country in a variety of ways, should be given a chance to make America a better nation.”

Senator Graham echoed these remarks and tearfully admonished President Trump to remember, “As you fix a broken immigration system remember that you have the power to fix lives as well, use that power.” His emotional statement also included an admonition to the Republican party, “Who are we? What do we believe? The moment of reckoning is coming. When they write the history of these times, I’m gonna be with these kids.”

This introduction of this bill comes at a critical time. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is under threat. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton along with a group of Republican officials from 10 states, has threatened to sue the Trump administration if DACA is not ended on September 5th of this year when it is up for renewal.  This program currently serves hundreds of thousands of young, immigrant children who are enrolled in school and have only known the U.S. as their home. Rescinding DACA without a legislative solution would be a devastating blow to our nation’s economy. Without the action of Congress, DACA recipients and nearly 800,000 DREAMers who contribute to our country and economy will face an uncertain future.

It is the mission of First Focus to ensure that all children, regardless of immigration status, have the opportunity to succeed. First Focus Campaign for Children applauds Senator Durbin and Senator Graham for their leadership, compassion and bipartisanship in standing up DREAMERS, and we will be working to support them in their efforts.

View the official statement of First Focus Campaign for Children here and the DREAM Act of 2017 Fact sheet here.

View United We Dream’s post regarding the bill here.