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Immigration Intel: Lindsey Graham's Promise To Preserve DACA
12/06/2016 Immigration Andrew S
keywords: Legislation Politics

Since the first days of the Republic, immigration has been a contentious issue, and it remains so to this day. Donald Trump's upset victory in November was seen by many as the harbinger of tighter immigration laws, including a repeal of the controversial DACA order. A recent proposal by Senator Lindsey Graham (R- SC), however, has given new hope to that policy's supporters and beneficiaries:

DACA Description

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in June of 2012. The order allows certain undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation for renewable two-year periods. It also gives them access to work permits, though it provides no direct path to permanent legal status. To qualify, an immigrant must have come to the United States before the age of 16, cannot have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor, and must be a high school graduate, enrolled in school, or honorably discharged from the United States military. So far, over 740,000 people have taken advantage of this policy

President Obama originally hoped to pass this policy as a law, but opted for an executive order when this proved politically infeasible. Once Donald Trump is president, however, he can repeal this order with the stroke of a pen, and given his campaign promises, he seems likely to do so. Those who signed up for DACA would be at serious risk of deportation, as the government now has detailed information on their whereabouts.

Graham's Guarantee

Senator Graham's proposal is simple: preserve the legal status of those who have already signed up for DACA. No one else will be able to sign up for the program, but those who already have done so will be safe. Congress will then have time to pass comprehensive immigration reform without putting anyone at risk in the short term.

Political Prospects

Graham's proposal is likely to gain support among Democrats, who have historically promoted such legislation and want to protect President Obama's legacy. Republicans, however, may be more reluctant to join this coalition. While many Republicans have historically supported proposals of this kind, Donald Trump's victory in November may have convinced them that Republican voters will only support someone who emphasizes deportation. Because Republicans control both houses of Congress, a large number of them will have to vote for the proposal, especially if Trump vetoes it. Despite these obstacles, Senator Graham believes that the bill will pass "overwhelmingly," and has already enlisted Senator Jeff Flake (R- AZ) in support.

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