By: The Hill
WASHINGTON, D.C.- A bipartisan group of senators is moving to offer legal protection for undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children if President-elect Donald Trump nixes a executive order issued by President Obama.
The legislation, spearheaded by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would provide temporarily legal status for immigrants who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, also known as “Dreamers.”
Durbin — who frequently speaks about undocumented immigrants from the Senate floor — said Thursday that the bill would “ensure that Dreamers are protected from deportation until Congress is able to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
“I would hope that President Trump comes in and says before I void the DACA executive order, we need to have an alternative,” he said.
The DACA program — which has faced a lengthy legal battle — provides people living in the U.S. illegally who arrived as children with work authorization and a temporary halt on deportation if they meet certain requirements.
The legislation would give a “provisional protected status” to DACA recipients and allow undocumented immigrants who are DACA-eligible to apply for the temporary protected status if they pay a fee and undergo a background check.
The legislation — known as the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow Our Economy Act, or BRIDGE Act — would expire after three years.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sens. Lisa Murkowski(R-Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are backing the Senate legislation.
Trump appeared to soften his immigration stance last month, pledging to “work something out” for the undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as minors.
“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he told Time magazine.
Trump came under fire during the campaign for taking a hard line on immigration, pledging to deport roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Graham signaled on Thursday that he wants Trump to back the legislation.
“I’m confident that if President-elect Trump were to support this measure we can repeal the unconstitutional Executive Order and Congress will provide temporary legal status through the proper constitutional process,” he said.
Eighty-eight CEOs and employee from Illinois, Florida and Colorado sent Trump and congressional leaders a letter this week urging them to support the legislation.