In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin did something he readily acknowledged was unusual for him. He thanked the President of the United States on a rare issue on which they both agree in a tactic apparently designed to influence the president’s actions on a controversial issue.
“I’ve had many differences with President Trump, particularly on the issue of immigration, and some of the speeches and statements he’s made. I do appreciate—personally appreciate—that this President has kept the DACA program in place.”
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is the former President Obama initiative which allows illegal immigrants who are brought into the U.S. as children to obtain work permits and not be deported as long as they meet certain conditions.
President Trump said during the campaign that he supported some sort of solution for that specific class of immigrants which would allow them to stay in the U.S. and possibly have a path to citizenship. The President also extended the DACA program indefinitely in June.
However, the administration is now under pressure from Attorney Generals in several states who are challenging the Constitutionality of DACA because it was created by an executive order by former President Obama and not through legislation passed by Congress.
In a letter this week to President Trump, 155 Democratic Members of Congress expressed concern that the Justice Department was not prepared to defend DACA. “We are concerned that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has historically opposed DACA, is now trying to abrogate your authority and set the Administration’s immigration policies, when, ultimately, you hold that authority,” they wrote according to an article in ‘The Hill’ online publications.
Durbin’s ‘thank you’ could be an attempt to add pressure for the president to defend the executive order. “[DACA] has enabled approximately 790,000 talented young people to contribute more fully to this country,” he said on the Senate floor. “They’re nurses, engineers, small business owners, and more. These young people have come to be known as Dreamers. They came to the United States under the age of 16, some of them a year or two old. They grew up in the United States, going to our public schools, singing the Star Spangled Banner, pledging allegiance to the only flag they’ve ever known: the American flag. They’re American in every way—except for their immigration status.”