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Only Trump Can Solve DACA Impasse, Top Democratic Senator Says03:44
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Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) (L) listens as then-Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks about the need for immigration reform during a press conference following a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Dirksen Federal Building on June 13, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) (L) listens as then-Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) speaks about the need for immigration reform during a press conference following a meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Dirksen Federal Building on June 13, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Monday was supposed to be the big deadline: President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, with an expiration date of March 5.

But then the Supreme Court declined to take up a court challenge, leaving in place an order barring Trump's move. That means DACA, which began under President Barack Obama, remains in place.

It also means that action on a legislative fix for the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, as some refer to people who've participated in the program, has ground to a halt.

On Monday, we took up the issue, discussing the prospects for reform in this Congress.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat of Illinois and the minority whip, joined On Point for part of our program to talk about the political realities in Congress.

It's all up to Trump, Durbin said.

Here's a transcript of the conversation between Durbin and guest host Meghna Chakrabarti:

Do you have any hope at all that any motion can be made on DACA or or immigration reform before the midterm elections?

Durbin: I can't say that anything will occur unless President Trump supports it. He was given six different bipartisan solutions to the problem that he created on September the fifth. He's rejected all of them, including a proposal in the Senate which gave him his God-awful wall. So I don't know what it will take to bring this president around. He created this crisis. He's the only one now politically who can solve it.

But members of Congress can continue to push for any one of these solutions, though. The point is is that he hasn't actually had a bill put in front of him to sign or veto.

Durbin: The reality is the Republicans control the House and the Senate. Without the president's support, many Republicans are afraid to vote for anything related to DACA or Dreamers even though they told me privately they'd like to see the solution come forward. But when we tried to bring the measures to the floor and pass them two weeks ago we were unable to muster 60 votes. I might say the president offered his immigration proposal and in the 100-member Senate it only had 39 who supported it. So it's a pretty dismal showing for his approach.

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Senator David Perdue of Georgia said that there's dual motivation. The only uncertainty is when, this year or next year. Is that as good as it's going to get now and perhaps it's not so bad?

Durbin: Senator Perdue, along with Senator Cotton, are both pushing a proposal which would dramatically cut legal immigration to America. It will be deepest cut in legal immigration since the 1920s when we passed that embarrassing, awful immigration policy of quotas. So his approach to this is not going to solve it. It was the approach that was included in the president's measure that won 39 votes in the Senate to two weeks ago.

So Senator Durbin, it just seems as if it's going to be more of the same now and that the window of hope that we had, in part because of the president's deadline, that's closed. And are we going to be in another 15-year cycle of lack of immigration reform?

Durbin: Well I hope not. And of course the decision or the answer to that question is in the hands of the voters. If they are fed up with what this president has done to these young innocent people who were brought here as children to the United States and are simply asking for a chance to earn their way to legalization and citizenship, if the American people are fed up with what the president did on September 5th and we've seen in the polls in November, then perhaps we can turn this around. But the president created this humanitarian crisis. He is the only one now who can solve it.

 

This segment aired on March 5, 2018.

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