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Lugar accued of supporting DREAM Act

His primary-election opponent contends Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., wanted the Obama administration to enact immigration legislation that failed to pass the Senate.

Lugar’s campaign says Richard Mourdock is reading too much into a letter co-written by Lugar.

The correspondence in question was dated April 21, 2010, and sent to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. It begins:

“We respectfully request that you grant deferred action to individuals who would be eligible for cancellation of removal or a stay of removal under S. 729, the DREAM Act, bipartisan immigration reform legislation that we have introduced.”

The letter was signed by Lugar and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. The DREAM Act would have provided citizenship to qualified children of illegal immigrants. Requirements for those children included their having lived in the U.S. at least 5 years, graduating from high school or obtaining a GED and attending college or serving 2 years in the military.

“To me, that is an amazing thing when the legislative process in which one serves rejects an idea, rejects a proposal of law, and then Sen. Lugar and Sen. Durbin both sign that letter saying, ‘Well, just disregard that, just go ahead and do it anyway,’ ” Mourdock said Tuesday during a visit to Fort Wayne.

“I don’t agree with that as a philosophy, when you are part of a body to make law and you say, ‘We’ll just do it by executive fiat,’ ” said Mourdock, who is in his second term as state treasurer.

The letter stated that the DREAM Act was pending at the time it was written. The Senate blocked the legislation the following December. A previous version of the bill stalled in the Senate in 2007.

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said Lugar did not ask Napolitano to implement the DREAM Act.

“The letter simply suggested that enforcement efforts should be geared toward deporting dangerous criminals over deporting children who want to serve in the military or pay their own way through college,” Fisher said in an email.

He said it is “common sense” for the U.S. to first deport illegal immigrants with criminal records and that is what the Obama administration has done.

“Enforcement efforts led to almost 400,000 illegal immigrants being deported in the last year and 1.8 million since 2007,” Fisher said.

Mourdock opposes the DREAM Act and said he favors a self-deporting immigration policy that would allow foreign citizens to apply for U.S. work visas.