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With Trump Ending DACA, Durbin Seeks Vote On Dream Act In Congress

CHICAGO (CBS) -- U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin again has called on top Republican lawmakers to bring the so-called Dream Act to the House and Senate floors as President Donald Trump ends the DACA program for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Two weeks ago, the Trump administration announced it was rescinding the Obama administration order that set up the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Durbin said that program needs to be replaced to end the uncertainty for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

To qualify for DACA, an immigrant must have been under the age of 31 when the program started; arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16; lived in the country since 2007; be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the military; and have no criminal record and have passed a national security check.

Durbin, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate, said Congress needs to pass legislation to protect those young immigrants.

"The right answer, I believe, is to pass the Dream Act, finally, and say that young people have a chance to prove themselves to earn their way into legal status, to earn their way into citizenship," he said.

The legislation Durbin has sponsored with Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graahm would protect undocumented immigrants from deportation if they have been in the country at least four years, were 17 years old or younger when they arrived, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, have been employed for three years, and have passed a criminal background check and English proficiency exam.

Durbin spoke about the Dream Act on Monday at Phoenix Military Academy, where many students aspire to join the U.S. Armed Forces.

"This was one of the paths that a young person could follow to move from undocumented status to become legal in America," he said.

Regardless of the fate of immigration reform in Congress, Chicago Public Schools officials have said schools will remain a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.

While the Trump administration effectively has ended DACA, officials have said the Department of Homeland Security will continue to adjudicate DACA renewals for six months, but won't accept any new applications. DACA recipients whose permits expire by March 5 may apply for two-year renewal by Oct. 5.

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