At Least a Few Republicans Want to Protect Undocumented Immigrants Who Came Here as Kids

Lindsey Graham says he’ll introduce a bill to extend DACA rights.

Matt Baron/Rex Shutterstock via ZUMA Press

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he is preparing legislation intended to protect some undocumented young people whose parents brought them to the United States as minors.

The legislation would extend the legal rights gained under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 2012 Obama policy that allows the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who have signed up to legally work in the United States and be exempted from deportation. The November election has created much consternation among those currently protected. During the campaign, President-elect Trump said he would kill DACA, and immigrant advocates now worry that his administration could take the personal information DACA recipients submitted to the Department of Homeland Security while applying and use it to locate and deport.

“The worst outcome is to repeal the legal status that these kids have,” Graham told Politico Wednesday. “Whether you agree with them having it or not, they’ve come out of the shadows.”

The legislation would be pretty straightforward: “It’s going to be basically if you have legal status today, you’ll continue to have legal status,” Graham said. As Politico writes:

Graham said he is working with both Democrats and Republicans, and named Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) as one GOP supporter of the forthcoming legislation. While lawmakers are discussing the proposal now, actual legislation won’t be rolled out until the new Congress next year, Graham said. A spokesman for Flake said the senator is discussing “potential paths forward” in dealing with the DACA issue with several colleagues.

In the past, Graham has been less open to the plight of young undocumented people. In 2010, he said proponents of the DREAM Act, a bill that included, among other things, a path to citizenship for some of the kids in question, were “wasting their time.” The bill has been introduced several times since 2001 but has never made it past Republican opposition. “We are not going to pass the DREAM Act or any other legalization program until we secure our borders,” Graham said at the time.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest