Graham, Durbin call for action on DREAM Act by end of September

Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions MORE (D-Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Graham: Trump will 'end North Korea’s threat to the American homeland' in his first term Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (R-S.C.) are urging Congress to act before the end of September on legislation that would create protections for young undocumented immigrants.

The call to action came after the Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shields immigrants brought to the country illegally as children from deportation. 

Graham and Durbin, who both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it is imperative that lawmakers act swiftly to pass the DREAM Act, a measure they have introduced that would offer legal status to individuals who received protections under DACA. The DREAM Act was first introduced in 2001 by Durbin and Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchRepublicans think Trump is losing trade war McConnell tells senators he might scrap August recess Longtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee MORE (R-Utah).

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Both lawmakers are part of the Gang of Eight — the group of senators who authored a 2013 bipartisan immigration reform bill. That measure passed in the Senate but ultimately died in the House.

Graham said Tuesday that Trump's decision to end DACA with a six-month delay gives lawmakers a deadline to take action, which could help propel legislation through Congress. 

"The reason I think it will get done now is that 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," he said at a news conference alongside Durbin.

Durbin cast the Trump administration's announcement on DACA as the beginning of "a countdown toward deportation for 780,000" people protected under the program. 

"Well today that was handed down, first by Attorney General Sessions and then by the president, tells us that the clock is ticking," he said. "We are now in a countdown toward deportation for 780,000 protected by DACA today.

"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 push for action, however, comes at a busy time for lawmakers, who in the coming weeks must pass a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running, decide whether to raise the country's debt ceiling and vote on disaster relief funding for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

"We're going to do two things: We're going to take care of the hurricane victims in Texas, and we're going to take care of those kids," Graham said Tuesday.