On Monday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), a long-time advocate of the DREAM Act, strongly rebuked a GOP witness for opposing a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents. The witness, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, rose to prominence for advising Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” immigration policy during the 2012 presidential campaign and is the architect of both Arizona’s infamous “show your papers” law (SB 1070) and the Republican Party’s harsh immigration platform.
Speaking at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing, Kobach insisted that DREAM eligible applicants, many of whom have lived in the United States for most of their lives, should not be rewarded for the “sins of their parents.” Instead, DREAMers should go back to their parents’ country of origin, Kobach said, and “get in line with the rest of their countrymen.”
“That just defies basic compassion,” Durbin shot back, pointing to to Gabby Pacheco, an undocumented immigrant brought to America at the age of eight from Ecuador, who was testifying alongside Kobach. “She’s never known any other country,” Durbin explained, “this is her home.” Watch it:
Kobach responded by reviving self-deportation, arguing that “if you ratchet up the penalties for violating the law, people choose to leave.”
But Durbin predicted that the momentum has shifted from deportation to reform after the 2012 election. “Ultimately the voters have the last word. The voters had the last word on self-deportation on Nov. 6, so we’re beyond that now,” he said.
Under the bill introduced by the Senate’s so-called Gang of 8, individuals in DREAM Act Status can receive their green cards in 5 years and will be eligible for citizenship immediately after. The status only applies to students who entered the U.S. at age 15 or younger and have lived in the the country for at least five years.
Later in the hearing, Kobach argued that “declining to remove an unlawfully present alien is actually amnesty-plus, because — if you liken it to theft — you’re given the person what he is taken, namely presence in the United States. He’s taken it unlawfully, so you’re not only declined to punish, but you also allow him to have what he has taken.”