Momentum Growing For Immigration Reform Proposal
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today welcomed the support of Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) for a path forward on DACA and immigration reform.
They will join Republicans Graham, Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) in backing this measure and working to protect Dreamers.
“It’s imperative that Congress act quickly so that young people who were brought to the United States as children, through no decision of their own, can stop living in fear of deportation. I have talked with Dreamers living in Maine who have grown up in our State and have known no other country as their home,” said Senator Collins. “This issue transcends political divisions, with members of both parties expressing sympathy for the Dreamers and support for a legislative solution. I am proud to join this growing bipartisan group of leaders in advancing this important effort that will fairly address the needs of the DACA population, strengthen border security, and help improve our immigration system.”
“President Trump and the bipartisan members of Congress who met at the White House ought to be able to agree on a proposal that both secures our borders and provides a solution for DACA recipients,” said Senator Alexander. “I intend to support such an agreement which is why I’m cosponsoring the Graham proposal as a starting point for reaching consensus and will support other responsible proposals.”
“I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan solution for the Dreamers,” said Senator Murkowski. “We should not punish children for the actions of their parents. Those who were brought to this country by their parents, were raised here, educated here, lived here, and dreamed here, should be welcomed to stay here. They should have the right to work and a path to citizenship. Fulfilling that dream renews our American Dream. I have consistently cosponsored legislation to provide just that, and I am heartened to see so many diverse voices supporting a legislative solution for the Dreamers.”
“I thank Senator Graham and others for their commitment to strengthening border security and fixing our broken immigration system,” said Senator Rounds. “The current proposal is an important first step in more immigration reform that secures our borders and transitions to a merit-based system. Legal immigration is a proud part of our nation’s history, and today it plays an important role in our economy – including South Dakota’s own workforce which depends on temporary, H2B visa workers to fill jobs during the busy tourism and construction seasons. While this bill is not perfect, I will continue to work on a product that includes appropriate e-verify provisions, a stronger border security system and lays the framework for more reform, including work visas. These are the provisions required for me to support the bill in final form so we can get to the next phase, in which permanently increasing the cap of H2B visas will be a top priority for me.”
“I’m very pleased that our bipartisan proposal continues to gain support among my Republican colleagues,” said Senator Graham. “Our hope is to bring forward a proposal that leads to a solution the President can embrace. The goal is to begin fixing a broken immigration system by fairly dealing with the DACA population, securing our border, and moving toward a merit-based immigration system. This proposal would receive wide support and is a good solution for Phase I as we move to Phase II, comprehensive immigration reform. As we debate how to fix a broken immigration system and who to allow to become an American, we must not change what it means to be an American. As I’ve always said, America is an idea defined by its ideals – not by its people. The idea of self-determination and freedom to speak one’s mind, to worship God as you see fit, and to be served by the government – not the other way around. I believe there is bipartisan support for that concept.”
Highlights of the bipartisan proposal include:
- At Least Ten Years Before a Dreamer Can Become an American Citizen: It would be at least ten years before a Dreamer can become an American citizen. The legislation calls for a 12-year waiting period, but select Dreamers who registered for DACA could earn up to two years credit for time. Dreamers – who do not receive any federal assistance or welfare today – will likely continue to be ineligible for welfare and federal assistance for the first five years they have legal status.
- The current Diversity Visa Lottery will be abolished, and a new merit-based immigration system instituted in its place. Half of the Diversity Lottery visas would be allocated to a new system for ‘priority countries’ who are currently underrepresented in visa allocation. A new merit-based system would ensure those visas are awarded to those most ready to succeed in the United States. The other half of the visas would be allocated to recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). After the TPS backlog is cleared, all of the former Diversity Lottery visas will be allocated to nationals of priority countries under the new, merit-based system.
- Additional Border Security Measures: The proposal contains $2.7 billion in border security improvements, including the planning, design, and construction of a border wall and additional surveillance and technology along the border. There will also be several provisions from border security pieces of legislation related to border infrastructure and Customs and Border Protection operations and oversight.
- Down Payment on Chain Migration: Parents of Dreamers would be eligible for 3-year renewable work permits. There are no new pathways for them to obtain American citizenship. If they brought a child who becomes a beneficiary of the Dream Act into the country, they would be ineligible to be sponsored for lawful permanent residence or citizenship by any of their children. Additionally, lawful permanent residents would only be able to sponsor their nuclear family members, their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.