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After Attending Supreme Court Hearing On 'Dreamers,' Durbin Renews Push For Permanent Status

Dick Durbin speaks with reporters outside his house in Springfield
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says he’ll try again this week to pass legislation that would permanently resolve the immigration status of the young immigrants known as “dreamers.”

The Trump administration wants to end the DACA program — it stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — which provides hundreds of thousands of immigrants with temporary legal protections.

The issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Durbin was at Tuesday’s arguments in the case.

After, he spoke to reporters — flanked by young people whose future could be determined by the court’s decision.

“They have lived their entire lives under the shadow of an immigration status which has raised a question every time someone knocked on the door,” Durbin said. “They have been counseled and warned by their parents not to say the wrong thing, not to do the wrong thing, or their entire family could pay the price. That is the price that they have paid to be here today.”

Durbin says he’s been working on a permanent fix for 19 years.

“It’s been a long time to make that trip over to the Supreme Court this morning. But there’s hardly been a chapter written in the civil rights history of the United States that hasn’t taken a long time,” he said.

The program in question applies to people brought to the U.S. as children, and they have to meet several requirements to enroll, including being a student or having a degree, and passing a criminal background check.

Republicans have blocked attempts to give the affected immigrants permanent legal status, even though polling shows the DACA program has broad support. Past attempts to tie it to funding for a border wall led to a collapse in negotiations.

Durbin says he’ll try again this week to get it called for a vote.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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