WASHINGTON — July 20, 2017
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is joining Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to try again to pass the Dream Act to provide a way for certain young immigrants who arrived or stayed in the country illegally to become legal permanent residents.
The 2017 bill introduced Thursday would make young immigrants eligible for lawful permanent residence, a step toward citizenship. The immigrants must be longtime U.S. residents who are graduating from school or have a GED, or are pursuing higher education or serve in the military. They must pass background checks, show they are proficient in English and know U.S. history, and demonstrate that they haven’t committed a felony or other serious crime.
Graham said he has come to believe that resolving immigration is absolutely necessary for the country’s economic stability and security.
“This problem will not fix itself,” Graham said. He said the 11 million or so people in the country were able to come here because the country “looked the other way.”
Versions of the Dream Act have been introduced over the years and failed to pass, although it has come close a couple of times.
Durbin, who first introduced it in 2001, has been working for its passage for so long that Graham referred to him as the “great-grandfather of the Dream Act.”
Graham used the press conference as a forum to nudge Trump along.
The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday, July 17, 2017, that it would allow fifteen thousand (15,000) more seasonal workers into the country. Generally, seasonal workers enter the country with H-2B visas which are capped at sixty-six thousand (66,000) each fiscal year. Incidentally, Texas had the highest number of H-2B jobs certified by the Department of Labor in 2015
The H-2B visa allows employers such as large farms, wineries, fisheries, and other seasonal hotels or hospitality business, to hire workers for a temporary period of time during either a peak in their business, a seasonal jump in their business, or if the business has an intermittent need for more workers.
Under the new directive issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the employers listed above can now apply for additional visas if they can show that their business will suffer “irreparable harm” if they do not have the foreign workers under the H-2B program. The increase in the H-2B visa allotment is effective through September 30, 2017.
Applications will be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. Premium processing or expedited processing by USCIS is still available for the H-2B program for an additional cost to the employer.
DHS has also created a new H-2B tip line for individuals to gain information on potential abuse by employers and the exploitation of workers.