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Home | Opinion | Local, State, National Leaders Speak Out on President Trump’s Decision to End DACA

Local, State, National Leaders Speak Out on President Trump’s Decision to End DACA

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday the ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) first implemented by President Obama in 2012.

Below is the President’s statement, as provided by the White House.

President Donald J. Trump Restores Responsibility and the Rule of Law to Immigration

“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws.” – President Donald J. Trump

RESPONSIBLY ENDING UNLAWFUL IMMIGRATION POLICY: Today, the Trump Administration is rescinding the previous Administration’s memorandum creating the unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and has begun to end the program responsibly.

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security explaining that DACA was not statutorily authorized and was therefore an unconstitutional exercise of discretion by the executive branch.
    • Attorney General Sessions found that DACA, given pending litigation, would likely face the same outcome as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which was enjoined by the courts.
  • The Trump Administration is taking responsible action to wind down DACA in an orderly and minimally disruptive manner.
    • If President Trump allowed DACA to go to court, it is likely that the court would abruptly enjoin the program.
      • If President Trump had refused to act, many States were prepared to pursue litigation to end DACA by court order.
    • Under the change announced today, current DACA recipients generally will not be impacted until after March 5, 2018, six months from now. That period of time gives Congress the opportunity to consider appropriate legislative solutions.
  • DHS’s enforcement priorities remain in place. However, absent a law enforcement interest—which is largely the standard that has been in place since the inception of the program—the Department will generally not take actions to remove active DACA recipients.
    • DACA recipients range from ages 15 to 36, with the overwhelming majority being of adult age.
  • Initial requests for Employment Authorization Documents under DACA properly filed and accepted through today will be processed.
    • Additional DACA initial applications filed after today will not be accepted.
  • Renewal applications for DACA Employment Authorization Documents properly filed and accepted by October 5, 2017, for people whose current Employment Authorization Documents expire between today and March 5, 2018, will be processed.
    • Any such requests filed after October 5, 2017 will not be accepted.
  • Currently approved applications for advance parole for DACA recipients will generally be honored, but new applications will not be approved.
    • All pending applications for advance parole by DACA recipients will be closed and associated fees will be refunded.

RESTORING LAW AND ORDER TO OUR IMMIGRATION SYSTEM: The DACA program was never intended to be permanent—even President Obama admitted it was a temporary, extraordinary measure. And President Obama repeatedly recognized that such unilateral actions were in excess of the Executive’s appropriate role.

  • President Obama admitted publicly on at least a 22 occasions that creating a DACA-like program was beyond his authority. President Obama said:
    • In 2011, that “there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through Executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.”
    • In 2010, that providing people in America illegally with legal status and ignoring the laws on the books “would be both unwise and unfair.”
  • President Obama admitted in 2012 that DACA, implemented in an election year, was “a temporary stopgap measure.”
  • Partly because of DACA, the United States saw a surge in illegal immigration by minors in 2013-2014, because they hoped to take advantage of the program.
    • President Obama knew this would be a problem, admitting in 2010 that a DACA-like policy “could lead to a surge in illegal immigration.”
  • President Trump refuses to allow criminal activity to dominate our immigration system, taking action to restore the law and protect all Americans.
    • One of President Trump’s first Executive orders informed sanctuary jurisdictions that failure to fully abide by Federal immigration laws would jeopardize access to certain Federal grant money.
      • As a result, Miami-Dade County reversed its years-long sanctuary policy.
    • The DOJ issued new charging guidelines in April to bring to an end the previous Administration’s catch-and-release policies by prioritizing criminal immigration enforcement.
    • Since President Trump’s inauguration, illegal immigration on the southwest border is down by 47 percent compared to the same period last year.
    • Illegal alien removals resulting from to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests have increased by over 32 percent.
    • So far in Fiscal Year 2017, ICE has arrested at least 3,641 criminal gang members compared to 2,057 criminal gang members in all of Fiscal Year 2016.

REFORMING IMMIGRATION TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN: DACA made it impossible for President Trump to pursue the reforms needed to restore fairness to our immigration system and protect American workers.

  • President Trump’s highest obligation is to uphold the laws of the United States. So long as the unlawful policies of the previous Administration remain—especially those that incentivize further illegal immigration—there is no realistic chance of achieving principled pro-worker immigration reform. His priorities include:
    • Controlling the Border: President Trump intends to secure the southwest border with a border wall and a robust law enforcement presence on the border.
    • Improving Vetting and Immigration Security: Our immigration system, including our asylum and refugee system, make the United States potentially exposed to terrorist and public safety threats. We need to improve vetting and set limits that allow for proper vetting.
    • Enforcing Our Laws: President Trump supports the swift removal of those who illegally enter the United States or violate the conditions of their visas.
    • Protecting Our Workers: President Trump is working to encourage companies to raise wages and recruit American workers. This means stopping the practice of hiring illegal workers who unlawfully deprive American workers of jobs and higher wages.
    • Establishing a Merit-Based System for Entry: President Trump supports efforts to prioritize immigrants based on skills and thereby prevent the displacement of American workers.

***

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) Tuesday released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced their intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program put in place by the Obama Administration:

“This policy, while well-intentioned, was implemented without the approval of Congress by a President who exceeded his authority under the Constitution. This President now has the chance to work with Congress towards finding a solution to this issue where his predecessor failed. These children who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own continue to make positive contributions to Texas and the nation, and it’s important for us to achieve a long-term resolution.”

***

A Betrayal of Leadership: HOPE & Border Bishops Respond to Trump’s Rollback of Protections for Dreamers

HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE, BISHOP OSCAR CANTU, DIOCESE OF LAS CRUCES, BISHOP MARK J. SEITZ, DIOCESE OF EL PASO

Jesus taught that law should be at the service of human beings and communities (Mk. 2:27). Jesus showed that leadership is about transcending petty divides, defending the vulnerable, and guaranteeing human dignity.

The devastating news that the Trump administration has rolled back basic protections from deportation for young immigrants is a betrayal of the law’s greater purpose, a betrayal of leadership’s duty to protect the innocent, and a betrayal of the compassion the President Trump promised Dreamers. 

Our border communities know the contributions, hopes and character of our Dreamers, forged in a climate of endless anxiety, uncertainty and political turmoil. Nearly one million strong across the country, Dreamers are leaders in our parishes, graduates from our schools, veterans of our armed services, and first responders who have provided brave service in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Even in the absence of political leadership, we know their dreams will not be extinguished. Dreams can soar higher than the pharisaical abuse of the law and political brinksmanship. In the dedication of our Dreamers to our highest American ideals and in the coming together of our country behind them, we see the seeds of renewal in our country and the renewed possibility of immigration reform. The fate of Dreamers once again falls to Congress, who rather than pitting us against each other, must work to promote the good of all.

In the meantime, with the strength of Jesus’ “no” to those who would use the law to lay unfair burdens on the innocent, we will continue to say “no” to deportation, family separation and the militarization of our communities. While we wait on reform, we call for an immediate moratorium on the deportation and detention of those who would pose no danger to our communities. 

And let us all continue to say “yes” to a country that nurtures the hopes and aspirations of its young people. “Yes” to laws that correspond to our human and family values. “Yes” to those who soar high on the strength of their dreams.

***

Sen. Rodríguez: Trump fails on promise to treat DREAMers “with a heart”

Senator José Rodríguez, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, released the following statement following the president’s decision, announced this morning, to discontinue President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months:

DREAMers are part of the American future. These young people are Americans in every meaningful way, and this un-American action by the president works to deprive them of their dreams.

This is no surprise, unfortunately. This president is a bully who kicked-off his campaign by calling immigrants rapists and pledged to build a border wall. He undermined the rule of law and the judiciary by criticizing the integrity of Judge Curiel, simply because of his Mexican heritage. He began his presidency by imposing an unconstitutional, discriminatory travel ban. Most recently, he pardoned the racist actions of Sheriff Arpaio. He has no respect for the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. He is failing as president, and as he did during the campaign, when he is in trouble, he looks for a scapegoat. While he has many, his main target, over and over, has been immigrants.

Typical of bullies, he is passing the buck. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that Congress do its job and pass comprehensive legislation that will protect these young Americans from deportation and provide them with a legal pathway to citizenship. DREAMers, more than 124,000 in Texas who by one estimate produce $6 billion in annual economic output, are students, teachers, doctors, workers, and small business professionals, who are integral to our communities and provide tremendous benefits to our economy. They are not bargaining chips for a border wall.

***

Senate Democratic Caucus statement on shameful DACA decision

Austin – Tuesday, President Trump went back on his word and discontinued President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Senate Democratic Caucus’ statement is as follows:

Since its inception five years ago, DACA has helped nearly 800,000 young people, many in Texas, come out of the shadows. These DREAMers are successful students and professionals who are contributing members of society. They have proven their allegiance to this country, which is the only home they know.

To take that away is not only cruel and morally repugnant, it is shortsighted and works against America’s future success.

We stand with these DREAMers and their families, and against the anti-immigrant hardliners, many of whom are driven by fear of change. 

Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for those already here, and we must stop scapegoating immigrants, whether because of national origin, religion, or any other reason.

Congress can start by finally passing the DREAM Act, which has bipartisan support. The vast majority of Americans support allowing DREAMERs to stay, but the president is playing to his political base rather than ensuring the best possible future for our country.

It is up to responsible leaders in both parties to reject this divisive, politically-driven action and seek common ground. Passing the DREAM Act would be a great first step. 

***

U.S. Representative Will Hurd Statement on DACA

U.S. Representative Will Hurd released the following statement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

“There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. Congress must provide a permanent, legislative solution for children brought here through no fault of their own.  We should create immigration policies that strengthen our economy and keep Americans safe, which is why I look forward to working with my colleagues to make a permanent, legislative solution that allows people who have only known America as their home, to stay and continue contributing to our Nation’s culture, economy and history.”

***

Former President Barack Obama via Facebook

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

***

EPISD Board of Trustees and Administration in February adopted a resolution declaring its schools as safe environments to help students learn and succeed.  Superintendent Juan Cabrera on Tuesday reaffirmed the District’s commitment to all of it students.

“It is not the responsibility or within the authority of school districts to enforce immigration law. It is our duty and obligation to educate all children who come through our doors. Today’s announcement will not detract us from our mission to protect the rights of our students to receive a quality education in a safe environment. We want to encourage students to continue coming to school. While we will always comply with the law, our priority will always be to help every child thrive and reach his or her greatest potential. Every child that is in our classrooms is part of the EPISD family and we will care for each and every child as our own.”

***

A message from UTEP President Diana Natalicio to our DACA students (from Facebook)

“I join your UTEP family in expressing support for you and the achievement of your educational aspirations. We understand and very much regret that, with every breaking news story or rumor, the visa uncertainties that surround you gain new intensity and cause enormous stress and apprehension for you and your loved ones.

“What we want to be sure you know is that UTEP stands fully behind you and your dreams of a successful future through the attainment of your UTEP degree. Please know, too, that we will do all within our power to ensure that you have the opportunity to achieve your educational goals on our campus.

“I trust that you know about the support services that are available to you at UTEP, and that you won’t hesitate to reach out to them. Dean of Students, Dr. Catie McCorry-Andalis (cmandalis@utep.edu or 747-5648), is prepared to provide you with additional information about these services and any other support that you may need.

“Your abundant talents, high aspirations and diligence have enabled you to become successful UTEP students and esteemed members of our UTEP family. We look very much forward to our opportunity to celebrate with each and every one of you when you cross the Don Haskins Center stage to receive the UTEP degree that you will earn through your hard work and determination to succeed.

“With our most heartfelt good wishes……Go Miners!”

***

Statement from President Bill Clinton (via Facebook)

DACA has brought hundreds of thousands of young people out of the shadows – allowing them to live without fear, go to school, work, and contribute to America in countless other ways. These young people’s dreams are part of the American Dream. And they make it more real for all of us. Today’s decision by the White House to terminate DACA – and that is effectively what it attempts to do – will crush their dreams and weaken the American Dream for the rest of us.

It’s wrong because it’s bad policy that solves no pressing problem and raises new ones. It’s wrong because it’s irresponsible, passing the buck instead of offering sensible solutions for immigration reform. Most of all, it’s wrong because it’s cruel to send these young people to places many of them have never lived and do not know. For them this is home. The United States is their home.

Instead of punishing them, we should find ways to openly embrace them and to empower them to make their own contributions, as previous generations of immigrants have done.

Congress should act immediately to protect their status and pave the way for their future and America’s future.

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