Senators Graham and Durbin Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect DREAMers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the introduction of the “Bar Removal of Immigrants who Dream and Grow the Economy” or BRIDGE Act, a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
William A. Stock, AILA President, noted, “The BRIDGE Act is designed to protect the investment American communities have made in educating DREAMers, immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and are eligible for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative. Since DACA’s inception, we’ve seen three-quarters of a million DREAMers come forward in order to have a chance to pursue higher education and careers, in the process becoming productive, taxpaying members of our society. Senators Graham and Durbin recognize that these young adults are a vital part of our communities and an innovative and creative force that should not be stifled.”
The BRIDGE Act would provide DACA-eligible individuals the chance to apply for “provisional protected presence,” which is temporary protection from deportation similar to that provided by DACA. Employment authorization would be granted after recipients pay a fee and pass stringent background checks. However, the BRIDGE Act does not provide a solution for the many families and individuals who have lived in the U.S. for years, working and contributing to our economy, and who still do not have a way to legalize their statuses and move forward.
AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson praised the Senators leading this effort, saying, “The reason for this bill is simple: President-elect Trump has said he would cancel the DACA initiative, a statement that has sown fear and anxiety across the country. This bill is illustrative of the widespread bipartisan support for DREAMers and for reform that recognizes the valuable contributions that they and millions of other immigrants have made to this country. We hope the incoming president will take it as a signal to keep the DACA program intact and to protect DREAMers instead of deporting them. Keeping DACA going is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business. Studies have shown that revoking DACA for the hundreds of thousands of current grantees would cost America more than $430 billion over ten years. The BRIDGE Act would offer protection to DREAMers for three years, during which time we hope that Congress will move forward on what is really necessary: smart, effective, and humane immigration reform.”