PHARR, RGV – President Trump is urging Congress to replace DACA after announcing he will phase it out next March.
The White House was widely expected to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and confirmation came Tuesday morning.
DACA was an executive action taken by President Obama to protect around 800,000 undocumented students who came to the U.S. when they were children.
Under the order, students were able to apply to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit, if they had no criminal record. In Texas, DACA provided a way for the students to get a driver’s license. The students are known as DREAMERS.
In a statement, the White House said the government will no longer accept new applications for DACA relief. But officials said about 800,000 current beneficiaries of the program will not be immediately affected by what they called an “orderly wind down” of former President Barack Obama’s policy.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said of the DACA decision:
“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.”
Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security’s decision will not affect current beneficiaries prior to March 5, 2018. Additionally, he said, the Department will not act upon any new initial requests or associated applications filed after today’s date, Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
“DREAMers have my full support,” Gonzalez said. “Ending DACA undercuts the stability, hope, and opportunities for nearly 800,000 DREAMers who arrived in America at a young age, and have contributed positively to our economy. I urge the president to rethink this misguided decision and call on my colleagues in Congress to defend the DACA program. These young people deserve the opportunity to live, study, serve, and work in the only country they call home – the United States of America.”
State Rep. Rafael Anchia, chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, said Trump had broken his promise to over 800,000 undocumented immigrants who are working and attending school under DACA. Anchia, D-Dallas, said Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA puts the lives of every DACA recipient at risk of deportation from the country they call home.
“Despite broad, bipartisan public support for DREAMers, the Trump Administration broke its promise to the 800,000 young people who live, work, and call America home. In the wake of a national tragedy that demands leadership, President Trump instead chooses to attack and divide us.
“Latinos and immigrants are not political pawns. It’s time this administration works to unite our communities and pass commonsense immigration reform,” Anchia said.
Anchia pointed out that Texas has the second-largest DACA-recipient population. The program has allowed more than 124,000 young Texans to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in the country, the MALC chairman said.
“Hundreds of businesses like Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, and Wells Fargo have pressed the White House to retain DACA, citing its economic importance. Today, the Trump Administration showed that these requests fell on deaf ears,” said state Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, a former undocumented immigrant and Mexican American Legislative Caucus Legal Counsel.
“DACA-eligible employees pay taxes, grow our economy and are entrepreneurs who create jobs. The President’s actions will only lead to higher unemployment and a weaker American job market.”
Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and a Rio Grande Valley native, said he was going to “work right up until the bloody end to try to convince this President to do the right thing by these 800,000 DREAMers who reside in this country.”
Click here to read the Palomarez story.
La Unión del Pueblo Entero, a community group that helps undocumented immigrants and colonia residents in Hidalgo County, announced it will hold a community meeting Tuesday at 6:00 PM at the group’s San Juan office, located at the corner of Cesar Chavez Road and Business Highway 83, to share further details and lay out a plan of action.
“We are heartbroken by the mean-spirited and disastrous actions of the President. After pardoning racist Arpaio, Trump has gotten even crueler by removing protections for 800,000 young immigrant Dreamers, including as many as 28,000 in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Juanita Valdez-Cox, LUPE’s executive director.
“It is time for Republicans to decide which side of history they want to be on. We need to hear from Senator John Cornyn: is he going to protect these young adults who want a life of dignity and respect, or side with Trump and the white nationalists? We need the passage of a clean Dream Act, free from border wall or interior enforcement spending, and Senator Cornyn must lead in the Senate.”
Abraham Diaz, education specialist with LUPE, said:
“The DACA program was an unqualified success. I am one of the over 800,000 DREAMers across the US who have been able to work, go to school, contribute to America and live fuller lives because of the program. Because of DACA, we have been able to obtain driver’s licenses, access educational opportunities, and remain with our families without the fear of deportation.
“Doing away with this program that has done so much to lift up our community and nation will not drag us back down. We want our immigrant community to know that we will stand together and support each other. President Trump can take away DACA, but he cannot take away our dignity. The immigrant community is not going back into the shadows, because we know that the heart of this nation is big enough for all of us, and we are here to stay.”
Editor’s Note: Check back later today for a story from reporter Patricia Martinez. She is with La Unión del Pueblo Entero members protesting outside the offices of the Attorney General in Pharr, Texas.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows members of La Unión del Pueblo Entero protesting President Trump’s DACA decision outside the offices of the Texas Attorney General in Pharr on Tuesday. (Photo: RGG/Patricia Martinez)