tv Senators Durbin and Graham Push for Vote on DREAM Act CSPAN September 5, 2017 11:49pm-12:10am EDT
you can read senator mccain's full statement on twitter or at mccain. senate.gov. >> senate minority whip dick durbin and republican senator lindsey graham called on congress to pass a dream act to from -- this is about 15 minutes. mr. durbin: good afternoon. i'm honored to be here with my colleague senator graham. it's good to business with him. we've worked on a number of issues on a bipartisan basis. this is one of our most important priorities. now, it was 16 years ago when i introduced the dream act. 16 years ago when the notion that these young people who were brought to the united states as
toddlers and infants and children deserved an opportunity to make their way in america and prove themselves and that that law was going to give them a chance. 16 years that we've been working on this project. it was about six or seven years ago when i wrote to president obama, who had been my colleague in the senate and a co-sponsor of the dream act, and asked him to use his power as president to help these young people. and he eventually issued daca. the program that gave young people across america who were undocumented a chance to come forward, to give all their personal information to the government, to submit themselves to a criminal background check, to pay a substantial filing fee, and if they were approved to have a two-year opportunity to stay in the united states without deportation and with an opportunity to work. that is what daca is all about. 780,000 young people took advantage of that opportunity created by president obama. senator graham and i agree on
many thing. we disagree on daca. i think it was a proper exercise of president obama's authority. he sees it differently. but even though we come to that issue with a difference of opinion, we are in agreement as to where we are today. it is time for us in congress to do the right thing for america, the right thing for these young people and their families, and to pass the dream act, to make it the law of the land and to do it now. the decision that was announced today by the trump white house was a disappointment to me. the first and only direct conversation which i've had with president trump was the day of his inauguration and i thanked him for the kind words he said about dreamers and daca. he looked me in the eye and said, don't worry about those kids, we're going to take care of those dreamers. i trusted that the president would do that. i hoped to work with him. we had many meetings in the white house with people on his staff talking about how we might achieve that goal of making certain that the dreamers would have their day and their
opportunity. today this announcement that was handed down first by attorney general sessions and then by the president tells us that the clock is ticking. we are now in a countdown toward deportation for 780,000 protected by daca today. for those young men and women across america, i can tell you, this is a moment of great concern, great fear and great anxiety, about what's going to happen to their live. they include teachers and engineers, medical students in the city of chicago who are uncertain now about their future. what senator graham and i want to deliver is the message today that we need to do our job right here in the united states senate. we need to pass in this month of september a dream act, a permanent law in this country. that says that these young people will have their chance to become part of america's future.
the dream act is not a new idea. introduced years ago, gone through the judiciary committee, was part of our comprehensive immigration reform, and the day that we included it, i can remember we met and had one of the shortest meetings of our bipartisan group. we said, fine, everyone's for the dream act. let's move to the next tough topic. when it comes to immigration. so we have included this as our main item in the agenda for the month of september. we want to make certain that the senate and the house vote on the permanent enactment of the dream act as the law of the land. my last message before i turn it over to my colleague is this. and it's to the dreamers. we've stood together through thick and thin for almost 16 years now. we've had moments when we passed this measure in the senate, moments when we passed it in the house. but never both chambers at the same time. this is our chance to do it. do not give up hope. if you are one of those dreamers, one of those protected by daca, you need to be part of
america and its future. we made a promise to you that if you gave this information to our government about you and your family, it wouldn't be used against you. i don't want that to ever happen. so let's stand together. let's take heart and stand together and make sure that we do the right thing for the dreamers this month of september. senator graham. mr. graham: thank you. to the dream act population, there are a lot of people on the republican side of the aisle that understand your dilemma and we want to find a fair solution because you have done nothing wrong. you came here as children. you've contributed to society. you have passed criminal background checks. you've demonstrated your ability to be beneficial to the country now and in the future. the only thing that stands between you and certainty in your life is the congress. that cannot be that reassuring. so here's the deal.
the congress is going to have to up its game. as to the president, i think he was right to terminate daca. i believe from day one it was an unconstitutional overreach by president obama. he had a dilemma on his hand. i understand why dick wrote the letter. i've tried to do my part to find comprehensive immigration reform, not only for the dream act kids but also for their parents. the main thing i've tried to do is make sure 20 years from now we don't have 11 million more illegal immigrants. i think the president did the country a service by going back to constitutional order in a way that allows a six-month opportunity for the congress to take care of these kids. so the president was right on the law. but he was also right to give us six months to figure out a solution to this. and my challenge to the president is that you talked very glowingly about these kids. help us. help us in the house.
help us in the senate. i think you're a good man. get involved personally. work the phones. try to find a consensus here. here's what i think's going to happen. there are going to be elements to the republican party who believe that if you pass the dream act you're rewarding future illegal immigration. you're incentivizing illegal immigration in the future. my reply to them would be, you would be right if we just stopped with the dream act. but we're going to do more. 70% of americans want to secure our border, control who comes to the country, and create order out of chaos. 70% of americans at least want to give these kids a second chance and a good life in our country. when you tell them to go home, they'll go back to the house they were raised in. they have no other country other than america. they're no more connected to their home country than i am to scotland where my grandfather came from. so the reality of the situation is that these children basically have no place to go other than america and here's the good news for america. you should want them to stay. they're great kids. they're working, they're productive. this is a win-win. if there was ever a win-win in modern times, it would be the
dream act. because the congress gives legal status, not overreaching executive order. you may like the executive order for dream act kid, but where does it end? what is the limitation on the power for president to give 900,000, a million people status just by a stroke of a pen? so, if you're a constitutional conservative, passing the dream act should please you because the congress is doing its job with the president signing a bill passed by the congress. if you worry about these kids, you should vote for the dream act because it gives them what they i think deserve. a new life. in their home country. to those in the republican party who vote no, i respect it. i respect your decision. but let's have a healthy debate. make the case that these kids don't belong here. because i'm going make the case they do. and we're all going to vote. so, from a republican party point of view, this is a defining moment.
we need to create a step, a process forward to fix a broken immigration system. starting with the dream act kids i think is a good down payment on what will eventually be a comprehensive solution to a broken immigration system. to the president, you have a chance to show the nation, as of president of all of us, where your heart's at. and you have the chance of the leader of the republican party to do two things. say that we are the party of constitutional process. that we believe in doing it right. but right means taking care of these kids. reporter: there are a lot of republicans who feel that if you give these young people legal status, you're just going to incentivize more people to bring their kids here illegally. how do you change their mind? mr. graham: i think i just said. one, this is a real-time problem. the kids will be thrown back into the darkness. that doesn't help fix a broken
immigration system, to take these kids and ruin their lives. that's what you'd be doing. so i think most republicans believe that you have to have a secure border or you'll get 11 million more in the future. most democrats want border security too. we've practically militarized the border. most republicans want to control who gets a job in the future with the e-verify system. what about the parents of these kids? here's the dilemma. we're going to deal with the dream act kids first. but to get to the parents, you have to have a comprehensive solution in place. i don't think republicans are going to legalize the 11 million and hope one day to secure the border, increase legal immigration will come from the democrats. and i bet you democrats are not going to give us all the legal immigration increases we want. the border security we desire, without having some idea what happens to 11 million.
so john mccain said he was against this idea because he wants to go back to comprehensive immigration reform. i have walked the walk when it comes to voting for comprehensive immigration reform. but we don't have that luxury right now. as dick said, we've got six months. so i'm with dick durbin on by the end of september we need to take care of the dreamers and work on the other parts of the problem. i promised my republican colleagues that i will not stop with the dream act because that does incentivize future illegal immigration. i am committed to fixing this problem once and for all. mr. durbin: calculation is six months, so we have plenty of time. not by senate standards we don't. those of who you have lived around here know what i'm about to say. who knows what next month's our is going to be. is it going to be kim jong un, irma, harvey, what's it going to be? let's move and do it now. that's why we think it's important to make the dream act the law of the land now.
reporter: congress has tried and failed more than 10 times to pass protections for dreamers. why should dreamers today have any confidence that this time around they'll be able to get this done? mr. durbin: some people look at the doughnut and just see the hole. if you look at the history of this, this measure has passed the house and the senate. it never did it as required by the constitution at the same time. now we have a compelling reason, a timely reason. daca is about to expire. we need to act on this or we know the consequences or countdown to deportation for 780,000 of the best and brightest young people in our country. so we have a timetable and a timetable is what most americans need when it comes to filing their taxes and going to the dentist. a timetable is what the senate needs when we realize we have to act and get it done now or terrible consequences result. mr. graham: you got the speaker of the house is a republican. you have the majority leader of the senate who is a republican. both expressing a desire to take care of the dream act kids. what the final bill looks like i don't know.
but i like our bill a lot. it got 68 votes in the united states senate and bipartisan fashion. you also have the president of the united states who did two things today. he rejected the idea of president obama's executive order as being a presidential overreach. i think he was right to do that. but he expressly gave us six months. the reason i think it will get done now is because the leadership of the republican party, including the president, realizes it's good for the country economically and otherwise to give these kids the certainty they need in their lives. reporter: are you concerned that the administration seem to be suggesting today that the administration wouldn't sign just a clean daca fix and that they wanted what they called a responsible immigration reform? mr. graham: all i can say is that the process of taking care of the kids will be a negotiated process. the comprehensive gang of eight bill was negotiation.
there are a lot of people who believe a good marriage would be border security and dream act. i know this. there's not much of an appetite for a 2,200-mile wall. if that's what you mean by border security, you probably aren't going to get a lot of votes. but i can tell you that dick durbin has voted in the past for dramatic increases of border patrol agents where it make sense, walls where it makes sense, drones and technology where it makes sense. so i don't know how this movie ends but here's what i'll predict. we're not going to allow these kids to be a victim of a broken political process. as a matter of fact, this may be what we need in congress to get our act together. real people, something we can put our hands around and the public can understand. a real issue with real-life people who need us to act decisively. we're going to take care of the hurricane victims in texas, and we're going to take care of these kids.
reporter: would you even entertain the idea of tapping a dream act bill that was tied to funding a border wall? mr. durbin: i'm not going to get into specific negotiations on what i'll accept and what i won't accept. but i think the wall is a nonstarter in terms of the political controversy. but i don't disagree with what lindsey just said. in order to get 68 votes in the senate i swallowed hard. 11 million people ended up with an opportunity for citizenship. when it was all over. that was part of our agreement. so i've been open to border security issues, continue to be open to them. the wall, though is a wall too far. reporter: this congress so far has shown no ability to do things, pass a republican agenda, and there's no evidence that there is a potential for bipartisan consensus. you haven't done anything that's hard that's also bipartisan. what makes you think you can get this done now? mr. graham: number one, i think we're going to do something on
the hurricane pretty quickly because there's the need. what makes me believe we'll get this right is the president has expressed a great concern for these kids, the speaker of the house and the majority leader of the senate understand that there needs to be a solution to this problem and i'll tell you, from being a republican member of the united states senate, well over half our conference wants to fix this. and those who disagree have no animosity in their heart. the question is, can we come together? the answer is, we have no other choice. a lot of these issues are complex and there's no time limit. i think what the president did is put us on the clock. because who wants to be the member of congress? if you want to be, you're going to get a chance. to say good luck and good-bye to these kids. who wants to have that on your political resume? so i think president trump did a good thing by putting a time limit on this. it is going to require him to get involved. i make a prediction that if he
gets involved then people in the house are going to fall in line. the senate won't be a problem. the problem will be in the house. mr. durbin: two more questions. reporter: what does the process look like from here? will you two be the primary negotiators on this? will it go through judiciary committee? do you have buy-in from leadership in either house on this? mr. durbin: i haven't sat down and thought this through in terms of what the next step will be. i hope we are at the table. it is important to get this done in september. mr. graham: if i were a democrat, i'd want dick durbin at the table. he's the father, grandfather and soon to be great-grandfather of the dream act. i've never seen a man so committed to a cause as dick has been committed to fixing this problem for the dream act kids. there is no way he'll be dealt out. i want to be there too because i've got to know a lot of them. and i actually -- i want to celebrate with senator durbin an
accomplishment for the nation which is that they take care of these kids. reporter: does the dream act have 60 votes in the senate and are you open to a similar proposal such as the one [indiscernible] mr. durbin: i've not seen the senator's proposal. he did come to see me in fairness to him, months ago, and said he was genuinely interested in this, in doing something on a good faith basis on immigration. i applauded him for that. but i've not seen his proposal. couldn't comment on that. does it have 60 votes? there are currently three republican co-sponsors of the dream act. we think there are other votes and senator graham can address that. i think we are in a solid position on the democratic side. we are at a good, strong starting point. some of the statements made, senator hatch made a positive statement. that is encouraging to me. he's a member of the judiciary committee. it would be great to have senator hatch's support. mr. graham: thank you all. mr. durbin: thanks.
trump's decision to rescind the program that shields young immigrants from deportation sparked protest outside the white house at around the country. protests also took place at the department of justice and trump international hotel on pennsylvania avenue in washington. it is estimated the obama era program has protected from deportation about 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the u.s. either parents. here are some of the demonstrators in washington. chanting]
[booing] >> president trump met with lawmakers at the white house to talk about making changes to the tax code. the president also spoke briefly about ending the daca program. president trump: thank you very much geared i am -- very much. i pleased to be here with am majority leader senator mcconnell, house speaker paul ryan, and the two leaders of our tax-writing committees, chairman orrin hatch and chairman brady who have been working on tax reform for months with our secretary of the treasury, steven mnuchin and gary cohen, our economic council director.