As the DREAMers, the undocumented minors that President Obama shielded from deportation in 2012, face the uncertain future of a Donald Trump presidency, help could come from an unexpected source.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a dark horse 2016 Republican presidential candidate who became one of Trump’s most vocal antagonists after dropping out of the race, told Politico on Wednesday that he’s readying legislation which would extend the legal rights granted to more than 740,000 young undocumented people–know as the “DREAMers”–under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals directive.
“The worst outcome is to repeal the legal status that these kids have,” Graham said Wednesday. “Whether you agree with them having it or not, they’ve come out of the shadows.”
The legislation, which Graham told Politico wouldn’t be rolled out in Congress until next year, could kick off a major battle with Trump, who invigorated Republican voters on the campaign trail with hard-line immigration rhetoric. That rhetoric included promises to repeal Obama’s executive actions that sheltered nearly 1 million undocumented young people from deportation.
Graham hasn’t always had kind words for the DREAMers. After the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors acted failed in the Senate in late 2010, Graham declared in an infamous floor speech that undocumented young people advocating for the bill were “wasting their time” because the measure would not pass until the border was secure.
The South Carolina Republican, who was one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight that pushed immigration reform, was also saying as recently as July that he wants to get the band back together and just “dust off” the 2013 legislation that died in the House before two of the eight, Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. John McCain, disavowed the package entirely.