EDINBURG, RGV – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former President Barack Obama, and state Sen. Juan Hinojosa have given their views on the decision to rescind DACA.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program introduced by President Obama has been scrapped by President Trump. Trump says Congress can come up with a legislative fix before the program goes away next March.
Sessions made the DACA announcement on behalf of the White House. Here are his prepared remarks:
“Good morning. I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama Administration is being rescinded.
“The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and essentially provided a legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, work authorization and other benefits, including participation in the social security program, to 800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens.
“This 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.
“In other words, 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 effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.
“We inherited from our Founders—and have advanced—an unsurpassed legal heritage, which is the foundation of our freedom, safety, and prosperity.
“As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld.
“No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.
“Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering.
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.
“Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all can not be accepted.
“This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.
“It is with these principles and duties in mind, and in light of imminent litigation, that we reviewed the Obama Administration’s DACA policy.
“Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges that the courts recognized with respect to the DAPA program, which was enjoined on a nationwide basis in a decision affirmed by the Fifth Circuit.
“The Fifth Circuit specifically concluded that DACA had not been implemented in a fashion that allowed sufficient discretion, and that DAPA was “foreclosed by Congress’s careful plan.”
“In other words, it was inconsistent with the Constitution’s separation of powers. That decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court by an equally divided vote.
“If we were to keep the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty policy, the likeliest outcome is that it would be enjoined just as was DAPA. The Department of Justice has advised the President and the Department of Homeland Security that DHS should begin an orderly, lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program.
“Acting Secretary Duke has chosen, appropriately, to initiate a wind down process. This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act—should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path.
“Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach.
“George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee was clear about the enormous constitutional infirmities raised by these policies.
“He said: “In ordering this blanket exception, President Obama was nullifying part of a law that he simply disagreed with.….If a president can claim sweeping discretion to suspend key federal laws, the entire legislative process becomes little more than a pretense…The circumvention of the legislative process not only undermines the authority of this branch but destabilizes the tripartite system as a whole.”
“Ending the previous Administration’s disrespect for the legislative process is an important first step. All immigration policies should serve the interests of the people of the United States—lawful immigrant and native born alike.
“Congress should carefully and thoughtfully pursue the types of reforms that are right for the American people. Our nation is comprised of good and decent people who want their government’s leaders to fulfill their promises and advance an immigration policy that serves the national interest.
“We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.
“Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.
“The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation.
“That is what the President has promised to do and has delivered to the American people.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, this administration has made great progress in the last few months toward establishing a lawful and constitutional immigration system. This makes us safer and more secure.
“It will further economically the lives of millions who are struggling. And it will enable our country to more effectively teach new immigrants about our system of government and assimilate them to the cultural understandings that support it.
“The substantial progress in reducing illegal immigration at our border seen in recent months is almost entirely the product of the leadership of President Trump and his inspired federal immigration officers. But the problem is not solved. And without more action, we could see illegality rise again rather than be eliminated.
“As a candidate, and now in office, President Trump has offered specific ideas and legislative solutions that will protect American workers, increase wages and salaries, defend our national security, ensure the public safety, and increase the general well-being of the American people.
“He has worked closely with many members of Congress, including in the introduction of the RAISE Act, which would produce enormous benefits for our country. This is how our democratic process works.
“There are many powerful interest groups in this country and every one of them has a constitutional right to advocate their views and represent whomever they choose.
“But the Department of Justice does not represent any narrow interest or any subset of the American people. We represent all of the American people and protect the integrity of our Constitution. That is our charge.
“We at Department of Justice are proud and honored to work to advance this vision for America and to do our best each day to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
Obama: Action taken today is not legally required
Here is former President Obama’s statement:
“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.”
Hinojosa: Ending DACA works against America’s future success
Here is Sen. Hinojosa’s statement:
“Ending DACA is cruel and morally unacceptable. This is not who we are as a country. We are not about hate or people ready to kick out young adults who were brought to this country as innocent children. Young adults who consider themselves Americans and who are proud of their country.
“To end DACA is also shortsighted and works against America’s future growth and success. DREAMers make us more competitive as a nation and as a state by fostering economic growth, developing new ideas, and bettering our society. They are not eligible for welfare or any government benefits, yet DREAMers pay over $2 billion in state and local taxes each year.
“Texas has always supported our DREAMers and was one of the first states to allow these high school graduates to pay in-state tuition. And the result has been tremendous — these DREAMers have excelled. They study hard, work hard, and contribute significantly to our society. Thousands have pursued their academic dreams and have entered our Texas workforce bolstering our economy. Without DREAMers our country would lose about $280 billion over a ten year period.
“DREAMers live in our communities, they work with us in the Texas Legislature, they teach our children in classrooms, they provide healthcare in our hospitals, and most importantly, they are our family and friends.
“We have made a significant educational investment in these students and they have not let us down. We cannot now let them down. Congress must act to provide a pathway for them to stay in our country. Legislators must put people over politics and craft a compassionate solution. I stand with these DREAMers and their families and offer support in this time of uncertainty.”