Post and Courier (Editorial)
August 01, 2017
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., cares enough about the future of immigrants brought to the United States as children that he’s willing to stake his career on it.
“To the people who object to this, I don’t want you to vote for me because I cannot serve you well,” Mr. Graham said last month in a press conference as he reintroduced the BRIDGE Act that would grant legal status to as many as 3.3 million immigrants better known as “dreamers.”
“When they write the history of these times, I’m going to be with these kids,” he continued.
And indeed, it would be misguided to stand against them.
Dreamers came to the United States through no fault of their own. Having been raised here, many know no other country as home. Some speak only English.
Forcing them to return to their countries of birth would be inhumane. It would also be bad policy, since many of the now-young adults — ages 15-30 — protected since 2012 by President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are well-educated, contributing members of society.
Nonetheless, DACA, which is currently under review in federal court and has been attacked by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson and nine of his colleagues as presidential overreach, is not the ideal way to keep Dreamers in the country.
Immigration is an area in which Congress should always take the lead. But Congress has repeatedly shirked that duty, leaving past presidents to shape the nation’s immigration rules through executive action.
Mr. Graham, who led the last major push for immigration reform in 2013 as part of the Senate “gang of eight” seeking bipartisan solutions, is right to take a stand once again on a perennially thorny issue. He should have the support of his colleagues.
He may even find a surprisingly sympathetic ear — and pen — in the White House. President Donald Trump, who campaigned on building a wall to keep out “bad hombres,” temporarily extended Obama-era protections for DACA beneficiaries in June.
In fact, Mr. Graham’s bill offers what could well serve as a blueprint for broader legislative measures that address the rest of the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.
To qualify for permanent residency, BRIDGE Act immigrants would need to graduate from college, serve in the military or be employed for at least three years in addition to having been brought to the country as minors. They would also have to pass a criminal background check and some would be required to pay a fee.
That’s a fair and necessarily strict standard, and a reasonable plan to bring immigrants out of the shadows and onto a lawful path toward a prosperous, productive future as citizens.
The current immigration system, characterized by presidential overreach, arbitrary and ineffective rules, and congressional deadlock, isn’t working well for anyone.
Sen. Graham has proposed a sensible way to help protect some of the nation’s most vulnerable immigrants. They deserve a better way forward, and so does this nation’s policy on immigration.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com