Today, the Trump administration announced its decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) while calling on Congress to overhaul immigration legislation. The program, started during the Obama administration in 2012, has allowed about 800,000 of those who immigrated to the U.S. as children without documentation to work and study in this country. Although the administration claims it is merely correcting an unconstitutional presidential overreach, some commentators see it as a ploy to provoke Congress into action. Whatever the underlying reason for it, the move is deeply unpopular with the American people—a new poll finds that more than 75% of U.S. citizens support the idea of allowing Dreamers to become citizens or to remain as permanent residents.Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made the announcement, called DACA a “unilateral executive amnesty.” Sessions also called DACA an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and an “unconstitutional exercise of authority” by the Obama administration.Despite some bipartisan support for the bill, the issue still divides many lawmakers. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., responded to the announcement in a statement saying, “It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” while Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, tweeted: “Today’s decision to end #DACA is a moral catastrophe that shakes the American Dream to its core.”The new poll from Morning Consult and Politico was conducted from August 31st through September 3rd and the sample was comprised of 1,993 registered voters. When asked, “As you may know, Dreamers are young people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children, often with their parents. Which of the following do you think is the best way to handle Dreamers?”• 76% of Americans support citizenship (58%) or permanent status (18%) for Dreamers, while only 15% back deportation.
• 84% of Democrats back either citizenship (71%) or permanent status (13%), vs. 8% who favor deportation.
• 74% of Independents back either citizenship (56%) or permanent status (18%), vs. 12% who favor deportation.
• 69% of Republicans back either citizenship (46%) or permanent status (23%), vs. 24% who favor deportation.
• The poll crosstabs reveal that a combined 67% of Trump voters back either citizenship (44%) or permanent status (23%), vs. 26% in favor of deportation.
Response to DACA’s demise was swift:California state superintendent of public instruction Tom Torlakson denounced the decision and told California public school students and their families that California will keep protecting and supporting them, saying: “Our country made an honest deal with these students—study hard, earn your degree, and you will get a fair chance to compete for college. We should keep deals, not break them. We should support dreams, not defer and destroy them.” He added: “I urge Congress to step up, find a permanent path to citizenship, and protect these immigrants.”Mario Carrillo, state director of America’s Voice Texas, said, “In his most cowardly decision as president yet, Trump has reneged on his assurances to Dreamers that they had nothing fear, but has instead cowered to Texas attorney general Ken Paxton. The Texas attorney general was the force behind ending the successful program, which has benefited more than 120,000 young Texans. As our state continues to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Paxton made the continued attack on immigrants his top priority. That will never be forgotten. He is going to see that our community will not back down. We recommit our fight to protect immigrant youth and their families, who make Texas and our country great.”Esther Brimmer, executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, commented: “Today, we stand with immigration advocates across the country in demanding Congress pass a clean version of the bipartisan Dream Act and give these young men and women a path to citizenship, immediately. We must not shut the doors to the American dream or put people at risk of deportation who have already demonstrated that they contribute to and enrich America. Like the generations of immigrants who came before them, DACA recipients love America and deserve the chance to prosper and thrive.”
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten commented: “President Trump made a promise that he would treat Dreamers with ‘great heart.’ Now, for seemingly political reasons, he is breaking his promise to students, teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers who took him at his word. This is not the America I know—an America that says one thing to its citizens and then does another. Betraying DACA Dreamers is betraying the values of our diverse and welcoming nation. America will not be stronger or more secure when these young people are torn away from the country they love and call their own. America will be diminished—and the toll will be measured by families ripped apart, people cast into the shadows and into poverty, businesses upended, economies weakened and dreams shattered…As children return to school, many carry with them constant, crippling terror and uncertainty because of their immigration status. Children should be free to learn and live without fear. Inhumane immigration policies deprive them of that freedom.”Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform FAIR, which campaigns to limit immigration, sees the issue differently: “FAIR applauds the decision by President Trump to wind down the DACA program…In our view, DACA was an unconstitutional abuse of executive authority by President Obama…Congress should seize this opportunity to come together and forge these much-needed reforms in our nation’s immigration policy. If the Democrats fail to show up at the negotiating table, it raises the legitimate question of whether DACA is something that the Democrats really want, or if it has merely been used as a convenient political football for fundraising and energizing their base.”
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