See Who Likes Trump’s Immigration Action, Who Doesn’t
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will rescind a federal program that allows young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States without fearing deportation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Tuesday.
The decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals comes after months of debate within the Trump administration would mean that some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came here as children would no longer be protected from deportation. The program was launched by then-President Barack Obama through executive action in 2012.
Sessions called that action “unconstitutional,” and announced the program would be phased out over six months.
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,” Sessions said at the Department of Justice.
News of the decision was leaked over the weekend.
According to the left–leaning For Ohio’s Future Action Fund, some 4,400 young people in the state are here under the program. Interfaith Worker Justice, a group fighting for to keep the program, says the state would lose more than $251.6 million annually in state gross domestic product if the state’s 3,865 “Dreamers” who work leave the workforce.
“I strongly urge Congress to act quickly and decisively to enact an immigration law to protect the status of 800,000 Dreamers, all of whom arrived in this country as children; have known life only in the United States; and are now working, paying taxes and contributing to our society,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther in a statement.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R–Genoa Township, praised the decision, saying the original DACA program “was one of the most egregious examples of his executive overreach.”
He said the six-month window for Congress to act is “an opportunity for us to identify needed solutions that are fair and orderly for Dreamers who didn’t choose to break our laws and know no other home than America.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said Trump’s move “puts the power back with Congress, where it belongs. Congress has six months to take action to create a permanent, legal and orderly immigration system — which includes addressing DACA recipients.”
“While we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws,” Stivers added. “Moving forward, I support a legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system and facilitate economic growth.”
Trump, meanwhile, released a lengthy statement saying while he does “not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents, but we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
A White House statement said, “DACA made it impossible for President Trump to pursue the reforms needed to restore fairness to our immigration system and protect American workers.”
Many, however, assailed the decision. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Trump “promised to go after violent criminals, not innocent children.”
Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Democrat from the Gahanna area, said, “The Dreamers are committed to making America great and are law-abiding, patriotic, innocent young people contributing to their community. That is why it is important for Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to keep DACA in place. Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to do what is right, as opposed to green-lighting President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.”
Rep. Tim Ryan called the decision “heartless,” “unconscionable” and “un-American.”
“Terminating this program goes against the vast majority of Americans who, regardless of their political affiliation, overwhelmingly support allowing these young people to continue their pursuit of the American Dream,” the Niles Democrat said.
Former President Barack Obama said Trump’s call represents “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.”
Obama tried to personalize those possibly subject to deportation to a country they’ve never known: “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.”
Sen. Rob Portman tried to take a middle ground.
In a tweet Monday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich referred to Jesus Contreras, a DACA recipient and Houston-area paramedic who worked on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Kasich tweeted “people like Mr. Contreras deserve thanks,” adding that Trump “needs to give Dreamers certainty that USA is home.”
By contrast, Rep. Jim Jordan, R–Urbana, said “one of my favorite jobs as a representative of the Fourth District is participating in naturalization ceremonies for immigrants who have worked hard, followed the law and are becoming citizens of the U.S.”
“We need to make sure that anyone who wants to come to the U.S. follows the law, and we do that by enforcing our current immigration laws and reforming them where needed, and through securing the border, not through a blanket amnesty program that insults the hard-working immigrants who followed the rules,” Jordan said.
Most DACA recipients should be safe at least until March 5, 2018, the White House said: “absent a law enforcement interest—which is largely the standard that has been in place since the inception of the program—the Department (of Homeland Security) will generally not take actions to remove active DACA recipients.”
Several Ohio colleges and universities sent letters Tuesday to Ohio politicians urging them to find a solution.
Ohio State University said it sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, urging them to “take swift action to find a bipartisan solution that will, at a minimum, codify existing DACA policy into law.”
“By definition, these individuals arrived as children, have known only this country as home and have grown up working to make real the American Dream,” the university’s statement said. “We support them strongly and are committed to their success. We also support strongly those programs that have been established to help them achieve their goals. Ohio State is engaged in active dialogue with our peers and policymakers around the country, and we continue to closely monitor this important issue. Our priority remains the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”
Presidents at Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, the College of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan University, urged Senator Brown to uphold the provisions of DACA and “take legislative action to move beyond executive order to a law ensuring its continuation.”
“A permanent path forward for these students, American in all but legal status, secures their education and the valuable role they play on our campuses today and in Ohio and the world tomorrow,” their letter read.
Ohio University President Duane Nellis said in a letter to the university community Tuesday that OU has advocated for the DACA program to be upheld, continued and expanded.
Nellis is currently in Washington, D.C. for a pre-planned visit, and he will be meeting with Ohio’s congressional delegation Wednesday, urging them to take action to protect DREAMers, he said.
“Today’s news is something we have been preparing for since last fall but that doesn’t make it any less disheartening,” Nellis wrote. “Ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protections threatens to undermine Ohio University’s commitment to fair treatment and inclusivity for all of our students. The individuals directly affected by this decision have worked hard to be here and have so much to offer to the common good.”
And immigration attorneys are urging DACA clients to renew their work permits to, hopefully, guarantee them two more years in this country.
“If their current card expires between now and March 5, 2018, they must sign up by Oct. 5,” attorney Jessica Rodriguez Bell said from her office in Worthington. She helped two clients with renewals Tuesday morning and expected more in the afternoon.
Two employees in her office are so-called Dreamers. “One is a junior at Otterbein (College) and she’s worried if she’ll lose her scholarship,” she said. “Another luckily is married to an American.”
People are calling asking if they’re going to be deported. “We can’t answer them with any certainly,” Rodriguez Bell said.
One of her clients was already in the process for deportation. The case was “administratively closed,” but it’s unclear if authorities will reopen it and proceed, or wait to see what Congress does.
Columbus attorney David Cook represents companies and universities that employ white-collar immigrants such as engineers and those in the medical field. A degree or skill doesn’t preclude them from having to renew their work permits.
Rodriguez Bell said it will take more than families, friends and employers calling to preserve DACA.
“That won’t be easy, she said. “I’ve learned that unless someone has a personal connection, the average American doesn’t understand how people are being affected.”
What happens if DACA immigrants eventually lose all protections and are targeted for deportation to countries and cultures they’ve never experienced?
“I don’t think these kids are going to up and leave,” Rodriguez Bell said. “They’re going to fly under the radar.”