Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King joined a bipartisan effort led by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) to develop bipartisan legislation to address Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other immigration issues.
“It’s imperative that Congress act so that young people who were brought to the United States as children, through no decision of their own, can stop living in fear of deportation. I have talked with “Dreamers” living in Maine who have grown up in our State and have known no other country as their home,” said Senator Collins. “This issue transcends political divisions, with members of both parties expressing sympathy for the “Dreamers” and support for a legislative solution. I am proud to join this growing bipartisan group of leaders in advancing this important effort that will fairly address the needs of the DACA population, strengthen border security, and help improve our immigration system.”
“The young men and women who qualify for deferred action have spent the majority of their lives in the United States – coming here as children at no fault of their own – and have worked hard to be active members of society. They pay taxes, look after their loved ones, contribute to their communities, and support our economy,” said Senator King. “I am encouraged that members of Congress in both Houses, on both sides of the aisle are concerned about the status of DACA recipients in our country, and hope that we can harness that energy to pass this bipartisan legislation. These young people want so much to be a part of our nation, where they go to school, work, live and call home. The Graham-Durbin bill gives Dreamers the chance to continue contributing to our country, while also substantially increasing border security. The agreement would allow us to protect our border, and protect the American ideals of hard work and self-determination – I hope the Senate will act on it quickly."
Highlights of the bipartisan proposal include:
- Pathway to Citizenship with a Ten-Year Minimum Waiting Period Before a Dreamer Can Become an American Citizen. The legislation calls for a 12-year waiting period, but select Dreamers who registered for DACA could earn up to two years credit. The previous DACA program provided no path to citizenship for Dreamers, no matter how young they were when they were brought to this country.
- Creation of a New Merit-Based Immigration System. The Diversity Lottery visas would be completely revamped. Under the new system, visas would be allocated to “priority countries” that are currently underrepresented in visa allocation; however, a new merit-based system would ensure those visas are awarded to those most ready to succeed in the United States. The other half of the visas would be allocated to recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) who came to this country largely due to catastrophic natural disasters in their nations After the TPS backlog is cleared, all of the former Diversity Lottery visas will be allocated to nationals of priority countries under the new, merit-based system.
- Additional Border Security Measures. The proposal contains $1.5 billion for planning, design, and construction of a border fence and at least $1 billion for additional surveillance and technology along the border, as well as the retention and relocation of Border Patrol Agents. Other border security provisions related to infrastructure and Customs and Border Protection operations and oversight are likely to be incorporated.
- Work Permits for Parents of Dreamers. Parents of Dreamers would be eligible for 3-year renewable work permits. There are no new pathways for them to obtain American citizenship. If they brought a child who becomes a beneficiary of the Dream Act into the country, they would be ineligible to be sponsored for lawful permanent residence or citizenship by their Dreamer children. Additionally, lawful permanent residents would only be able to sponsor their nuclear family members, their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.