Our Representatives: Senator Dick Durbin | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Our Representatives: Senator Dick Durbin

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said Friday that the FCC’s decision to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality regulations was “consistent with the Trump philosophy.”

“If somebody can make a buck off of it, for goodness sakes, they’re going to step aside and let them do it,” Durbin said on Morning Shift

The FCC defended its decision by saying the net-neutrality regulations were “heavy-handed” and “imposed substantial costs on the entire Internet ecosystem.”

But Durbin, who has served in the Senate since 1997, said Congress will have to step in if public outrage grows. 

“I’ve seen it. When this community — when the internet community — rises up and decides to speak up, Congress will listen,” he said. 

Durbin spoke with WBEZ’s Jenn White as part of Morning Shift’s “Our Representatives” series, where we check in with all of the lawmakers who represent the WBEZ listening area in Washington D.C. Durbin also discussed the immigration status of so-called dreamers. Below are highlights from their conversation.

On the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules 

Sen. Dick Durbin: There’s much more at stake here than profitability of any website. It’s a question of access to information, freedom of information.

But let me make a prediction to you: I’ll bet you the Trump administration has no idea what they just did when it comes to politics. I’ve seen it. When this community — when the internet community — rises up and decides to speak up, Congress will listen. It is a very powerful force when they get organized and when they push back. I think there’s a good chance we can turn this around.

On the immigration status of dreamers

Jenn White: There was some talk about whether DACA — that’s the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy — might be a red line issue for Democrats that could lead to a possible government shutdown. But Democrats have backed off that possibility. Where does that leave DACA?

Durbin: I can tell you where it leaves it: On March 5 of 2018, which is barely two months and a couple weeks away, it’s over. We will see 1,000 people a day losing their protection from DACA out of the 780,000 currently protected under that executive order.

We’ve already lost 12,000 since the president’s announcement. What does it mean to lose DACA protection? Well it means tomorrow you can be deported. It also means today and tomorrow you cannot legally work in America. 

It’s going to have a devastating impact on these young people and their families, on students who are trying to work their way through school. I have tried desperately — I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve had with Republican senators — saying for goodness sakes, give these young people a chance to earn their way to legal status and citizenship. 

There’s always something more the Republicans are asking for. “Oh we need a wall. Oh we need to make sure their parents are going to be punished.” It goes on and on and on. 

I will tell you it’s a desperate situation, and I feel very strongly about it because I introduced the DREAM Act 16 years ago.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. It was adapted for the web by producer Justin Bull. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.

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