(The Center Square) – Illinois’ senior U.S. senator may be working with his colleagues across the aisle to craft another bipartisan attempt at immigration reform.
Years have gone by since a bipartisan effort was made to bring about reforms to U.S. immigration policy. Signs of a rekindling were shown this week in a U.S. Senate committee.
While Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was meant to focus on the issue of what kinds of books are available in public libraries and schools, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, wanted to discuss migrants crossing the southern border.
“We’ve had 146 people on the terrorist watchlist, and FY22, which is about 2.4 million came across, since President [Joe] Biden’s been president, five-and-a-half million people have come across illegally,” Graham said. “That’s bigger than the state of South Carolina.”
More than 13,500 migrants have relocated to just Chicago in the past year. Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, acknowledged previous work on drafting reforms.
“Gang of Eight, four Democrats, four Republicans, wrote a comprehensive immigration reform bill which I still think in whole can be still used as a template for where we need to go,” Durbin said.
The measure Durbin referenced from a decade ago was criticized as bringing about amnesty. Republicans are looking for the border to be closed.
Durbin said the measure they drafted years ago had some favorable parts for people illegally brought to the United States as children, among other things.
“The decision in the bill was that those who were undocumented currently living in the United States would report themselves to the government and pay their taxes and their Social Security,” Durbin said. “They would not qualify for citizenship, at least in the outset, and the idea was to get everybody on the books once and for all.”
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said while Durbin’s bill may have passed one chamber years ago, it didn’t cross the finish line.
“That was also a different time than we are in now when the Biden border crisis became so dire,” Cornyn said.
Durbin suggested working on an updated proposal with Senate Minority Republicans. Republicans say closing the border must be paramount.