All sides agree: Congress must act on ‘Dreamers’
President Donald Trump’s decision to “wind down” a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children drew sharp criticism Tuesday from state and local activists and legislators.
“President Trump’s action today is an insult to America and our values,” said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., in a statement. “This action is profoundly unjust, immoral and without regard for basic fairness.”
President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from de-
portation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. since its enactment in August 2012.
But Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the program “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” in making the announcement that the government will stop processing new DACA applications Tuesday.
“The policy was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern after Congress rejected legislative proposals to extend similar benefits, on numerous occasions, to this same group of illegal aliens,” Sessions said. “The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”
“The revocation of DACA by our president is just one more indication that all of us who believe in America’s highest ideals must push back with all the power we have to pass the Dreamer Act,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia. “The Dreamers should not be abandoned and thrown back because of the petty and short-sighted whims of our president.”
Trump promised to end the program during his campaign, but has since expressed sympathy for those brought to the United States illegally as children. He indicated in a tweet that it would now be up to Congress to decide the fate of those protected by the program, saying, “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!”
Casey suggested lawmakers should meet that mandate by immediately moving to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM, Act, which could grant permanent legal status to more than 1 million young people who arrived in the United States before they turned 18 if they pass security checks and met other criteria, including enrolling in college, joining the military or finding jobs.
“The ‘Dreamers’ are young people who have lived in our country since they were children,” said Casey. “They have been law-abiding residents who have learned English, paid taxes and secured jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. Our government promised them that they would be protected if they came forward and now President Trump is breaking that promise.”