Graham: Trump ‘Did the Country a Service by Going Back to Constitutional Order'

By Melanie Arter | September 5, 2017 | 7:46 PM EDT

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (Screenshot of C-SPAN video)

( - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that President Donald Trump was right to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, because former President Barack Obama’s executive order was “an unconstitutional overreach.”

“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,” Graham said.


Trump “had a dilemma on his hands,” he said. “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.”

Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) held a press conference to react to the president’s decision on DACA. They also touted their bipartisan Dream Act.

It allows young people to obtain lawful permanent residency if they are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children; graduate from high school or obtain a GED; pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military; pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee; demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.

“What Senator Graham and I want to deliver today is the message today is that we need to do our job 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,” Durbin said.

“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, everybody’s for the Dream Act. Let’s move to the next topic when it comes to immigration,’” Durbin said.

“So we have included this as our main item for the agenda in the month of September. We want to make certain that Senate and the House vote on the permanent enactment of the Dream Act is the law of the land,” Durbin added.

In a message to the Dreamers, Durbin said, “We’ve stood together through thick and thin for almost 16 years now. We’ve had moments when we’ve 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.”

Furthermore, he said, “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 gov’t about you and your family, it wouldn’t be used against you. I don’t want that ever to happen.”

Graham called on the president to get personally involved in getting legislation passed through Congress.

“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’ve 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,” Graham said.

Graham said some elements of the Republican Party believe that passing the Dream Act will incentivize future illegal immigration, “and my reply to them would be: you’d be right if we just stopped with the Dream Act, but we’re gonna do more.”

He said most Americans want to secure the U.S./Mexico border, control who enters the country and “create order out of chaos” and most of them “at least want to give these kids a 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,” Graham said of the DACA recipients. “They have no other country other than America. They’re no more connected to their home country than they are 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.”

He said legalizing DACA recipients is “a win-win,” because “they’re great kids” who are productive.

“You may like the executive order for Dream Act kids, but where does it end? What is the limitation on power of a president to give 900,000, a million people status just by the stroke of a pen, so if you’re a constitutional conservative, passing the Dream Act should please you because the Congress is doing it’s job with the president signing a bill passed by the Congress,” Graham said.

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