HAS THE “GANG OF EIGHT” RETURNED?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 17, 2017) — The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported on Tuesday that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has proposed legislation to protect certain illegal aliens from deportation ahead of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the nation’s 45th president on Friday.
While a summary of the proposed bill, S. 128, is not yet available at Congress.gov, the legislation, dubbed the “Bridge Act,” is intended to allow a cohort of young illegal aliens to remain in the country similar to the group positively affected by an executive action signed by Barack Hussein Obama in June 2012.
Graham’s move was heralded early last month by The Daily Caller when Graham recontacted members of what came to be known as the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” which supported “immigration reform” in 2013, a bill Obama advocated.
Disappointed that Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act or the “immigration reform,” Obama’s June 2012 executive action encompassed certain applicants age 30 and under who were brought to the United States when they were children and remain “undocumented.” The first applicants were processed two months later for a two-year period which was renewable for another two-year period if the applicant continued to qualify.
The executive action, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
More than a dozen of those approved under the program were later found to have committed serious crimes.
Together with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Graham announced on December 9 that while he believed DACA was unconstitutional, “I do not believe we should pull the rug out and push these young men and women — who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government — back into the darkness.”
DACA was not challenged on constitutional grounds nor defunded by Congress with Republican majorities in both chambers.
However, executive actions Obama announced in a speech on November 20, 2014 which would have permitted approximately 5 million relatives of DACA recipients to remain in the country were challenged by 26 states up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to overturn a lower court’s ruling contending that the executive actions were unconstitutional.
Trump campaigned on a platform of building a wall along the United States’ border with Mexico and deporting all illegal aliens convicted of crimes within the country. The incoming administration has not articulated how it might handle the tens of millions of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. presently without a criminal history other than their illegal entry.
Early in the 2016 presidential campaign season, Graham made it clear that he was not a Trump supporter.
Since Trump’s election, congressional Democrats have sought ways to shield DACA recipients or those deemed eligible from deportation in the event that Trump rescinds the executive action, including asking Obama to issue “pardons” to them.
Thus far, Obama has not taken that step with slightly more than 2.5 days left in office as of press time.