by Josh Siegel
Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday Republican leaders should attach to the year-end government funding bill a fix to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Graham was breaking from GOP leadership in both chambers of Congress, who in recent weeks have said any effort to fix DACA would come after and separately from a funding bill that will be needed by Dec. 8. Some Democrats and Republicans have suggested a dispute over the issue could lead to a government shutdown.
“Everybody believes we need more border security,” Graham said on CNN’s State of the Union. “Most people believe we need to go from chain migration, family-based immigration to merit-based immigration and most want to give the Dream Act kids a more certain life. Let’s do it in December for the good of the country and let’s take care of a lot of problems at one time to show the country we actually can function. I’m rather excited about the possibilities of legislating in December.”
Graham, asked if the government could shut down over the dispute, said “anything is possible” in Congress.
Graham, with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Il., has authored a bill, known as the Dream Act, that would offer legal status to individuals who received protection under DACA.
DACA, created by President Obama using executive authority, gives nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children the ability to work and stay in the U.S.
Trump has said he will rescind the program in March 2018, giving lawmakers time to create a legislative solution to help a class of individuals known to many as “Dreamers.”
Republicans have said any effort to help Dreamers would have to be matched to border security measures, and potentially reforms to the legal immigration system.
Some Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have speculated about the idea of holding up the spending bill in December if it doesn’t include a DACA provision.
Durbin, who appeared on CNN Sunday with Graham, said he also supports including a DACA fix to the government funding bill in December, but he refused to say whether he would demand that if it risks a government shutdown.
“We believe we can put together a bipartisan coalition to pass it and make that part of the end of the year,” Durbin said of the DREAM Act.
Durbin said he would support attaching border security measures to a DACA fix, but he was less committal about including legal immigration provisions.
Trump has backed a bill by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ala., that cuts legal immigration levels in half by limiting so-called “chain migration” that favors family ties, and replacing it with a “merit-based” system.
“When it comes to border security, we signed up for that,” Durbin said. “When it comes to chain migration, bottom line, I’ve spoken to Sen. Cotton about this, is when these Dreamers become citizens, they are not going to be second-class citizens. They are going to have the same rights as others in the United States.”
Graham said it would be “sad” if Republicans and Democrats can’t agree to a solution for DACA.
“It would be sad to miss this opportunity,” Graham said. The president has talked very warmly about the Dream Act kids.”