Local leaders, groups react to Trump administration’s DACA decision

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would phase out a program put in place to protect thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, and local leaders reacted immediately.

More than 200,000 California residents are part of the DACA program, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The program was put in place in 2012 by executive order under President Barack Obama and allows recipients —about half of which were brought to the United States under age of six — to legally work and study in the United States without fear of deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Obama’s executive order “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and recommended the program be phased out if Congress doesn’t come up with a legislative fix within six months.

Local officials and groups reacted to the news immediately:

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

"We are not going to fix our immigration problems on the backs of innocent children. The young men and women here under DACA – many who are living in the only country they have ever known – are students, innovators, business owners and veterans who enrich our country and contribute to our economy and our culture. Only Congress can provide the legal certainty on immigration that our country needs and these young people are relying on, and it’s time for the legislative branch to act."

Congressmember Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

"When President Obama unilaterally created DACA, he unlawfully overstepped his executive authority and only put a temporary band-aid on a problem which prolonged uncertainty for many children brought here through no fault of their own. The Administration’s decision today puts the onus on Congress to address this challenge in the right way: for the long-haul, with respect for our nation’s laws, a desire to enhance the integrity of our borders, and a sense of compassion for those who were brought here in their childhood years ago and wish to stay as productive members of our communities. I’m eager to get to work on a permanent fix and call on Democrats and Republicans alike to immediately put political posturing aside and let this be a catalyst to achieve long-overdue reforms in this important area of concern."

Congressmember Susan Davis (D-San Diego)

"By ending DACA, President Trump ignores the Dreamers’ economic impact to our country. He has not only put them at risk, but our economy at risk as well.  While it’s sad that Trump is siding with the worst elements of his administration, it’s not surprising given his past rhetoric on immigration.

"DACA has been a rousing success. Many Dreamer kids in the workforce are earning high wages – an average of $17 per hour.  Nearly half of Dreamers are attending school. Over the next decade, Dreamers are expected to contribute half a trillion in economic activity. The Dreamers are contributing to America in a positive way and they should be allowed to keep contributing."

Congressmember Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) 

“President Trump is advancing his extremist, anti-immigrant agenda by terminating the DACA program and breaking a promise our country made to nearly 800,000 DREAMers.

“Before DACA, young people brought to this country as children were forced to live in the shadows with the fear of being separated from their families and deported from the country they call home. DACA gave these DREAMers an opportunity to step forward with hope, go through a background check process, and have the ability to work legally, get an education, serve the country they love, and make many positive contributions to their communities.

“By terminating DACA, President Trump is undermining a successful program and ignoring bipartisan efforts to support DREAMers. The President and his Administration are betraying the values that make America great and turning the lives of families across the country into a nightmare. Congress must act and pass legislation that will protect these young people from a President who is attempting to put an end to their American dream.”

Congressman Scott Peters (D-San Diego) 

“President Trump, in a display of total and complete cowardice, has outsourced the announcement to end DACA to the Attorney General – a remarkable abdication of responsibility for the heartlessness of an action that leaves 800,000 lives in the balance.

“Ending DACA is unbelievably cruel and it is un-American. It will also immediately damage our economic interests.

“Expelling hundreds of thousands of people who have known no home but the United States makes us weaker and diminishes our standing in the eyes of the world.

“Failures in leadership have led us to this point. Republicans in Congress refused to even allow a vote on comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 that would have protected DREAMers, which is what led to the creation of DACA in the first place.

“Facing this urgent deadline, Congress must finally step up, work together, and do its job. We must move swiftly to protect DREAMers and provide them and their employers with the certainty they deserve. If Congress does not act by March 6th, 2018, it is complicit in this economic and moral catastrophe.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

“Congressional action is now the only way to guarantee that DACA recipients are shielded from deportation, and it must be our top priority. The DREAM Act—introduced by Senators Graham and Durbin to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients—deserves a vote as soon as possible.

“Failure to protect young people who have come out of the shadows would constitute an abject moral failure. DACA recipients registered with the government, had background checks and paid taxes. They provided extensive documentation about their lives and put their trust in the government. We can’t respond by penalizing them.

“DACA youth are the epitome of the American dream—95 percent are in school or working. Many came to our country as very young children, through no fault of their own. They’ve pursued their dreams, becoming doctors, engineers and teachers. They’re American in every way that matters, and we should welcome their contributions to our society.

“California is home to more DACA recipients than any other state, nearly 223,000. They’ve made incredible contributions, including to our vibrant tech industry, which spurred a letter of support from tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Netflix.

“To DACA youth across the country, I say this is not over. I stand with you and your families. You are valued. Our country needs you. And I won’t stop fighting to protect you.”

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) who co-sponsored the DREAM Act

"DACA recipients make our nation strong and represent the best of America. The President’s decision undermines our nation’s values and is a cruel betrayal to the more than 800,000 young people, including more than 200,000 Californians, who have only ever known the United States of America as their home.

"Dreamers are Americans in every way except a piece of paper. With this decision, President Trump is telling classmates of our children they don’t belong, employees of Fortune 100 companies they aren’t welcome, and saying to those who serve in our military and run small businesses that they should leave. These young people deserve better than that. They came out of the shadows and submitted every detail of their personal lives to prove that they were lawful, productive members of our society. By turning his back on our young Dreamers and their families, President Trump has once again sided with division and hate. 

"The consequences of this decision will be devastating. It will split up families, force young people back to countries they never knew, and cost our economy billions of dollars. It is heartless.

"Now more than ever, it is time we roll up our sleeves and stand with these young people who contribute to our community and our economy. Republicans in Congress must immediately allow a vote on the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill we introduced again this summer. We are better than this."

Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) 

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego)

"It’s hateful. It’s vicious. It’s cruel. It’s disgusting. My heart breaks for the hundreds of thousands of people who are now forced to cope with this living nightmare. I can only pray Congress musters some basic human decency and prevents this horrific policy from becoming reality."

ACLU of California by Director of Immigrant Rights Jennie Pasquarella

"Five years ago, the federal government made a deal with immigrant youth: as long as you meet certain criteria, you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people came out of the shadows and accepted the government’s offer in good faith. They prospered and thrived as a result. 

"Today, the Trump administration broke our government’s promise, upending the lives of 800,000 young immigrants and their families, and injecting uncertainty into thousands of homes, schools and workplaces across America. 

"In California alone, more than 222,000 young immigrants use their DACA status to give back to this country in innumerable ways: they are our doctors, soldiers, teachers and students; our neighbors, family and friends.

"Now, the fate of DACA recipients in this nation lie in the hands of Congress. Lawmakers, such as U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, must decide if they are on the side of young people who are integral to this country’s future, or on the side of the racist forces motivating this President to end DACA.   

While this is a hard day for our diverse immigrant communities and this nation as a whole, we will continue to work toward the full recognition of these young people as belonging to this nation. Years of courage, sacrifice, and organizing won the DACA program in 2012. Nothing will deter these individuals – who are Americans in most respects – and their key allies in California and across the country, such as United We Dream, San Diego Dream Team, Borderless Scholars and The Undocumented Student Services Center at UC San Diego, from continuing to work on behalf of their futures and holding those responsible accountable."

San Diego Unified School District

"Today, President Donald Trump acted to remove the protections afforded to thousands of immigrant students under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 
"Despite this decision, San Diego Unified School District wants to firmly assure students and parents that we remain committed to protecting the rights of every child to an education. All children are welcome in our school community.

"The mission of public schools is to create opportunity—not for some children, but for all.

"We are better off as a nation thanks to the contributions of immigrants regardless of their legal status. Rescinding the rights of these dreamers is an injustice to the American People."

Palomar College President Dr. Joi Lin Blake 

"The action to eliminate the DACA program would be contrary to our core values as an institution and principles of access, diversity, equity and inclusion which are central to our educational philosophy."  She further reiterated the Palomar Community College District Governing Board’s Resolution that "reaffirms its commitment to undocumented students, and all students who meet the minimum requirements for admission, regardless of immigration status…."

San Diego Community College District Chancellor Chancellor Constance M. Carroll 

"Today was a sad day in America when the Attorney General announced the Presidential decision to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a program that provides support, especially educational opportunities, for young people who were brought to this country as children.  In the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), these students are among the best and highest achieving students at City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges, and Continuing Education.  Nationally, many are earning graduate degrees and are already giving back to their communities through services, expertise, and taxes.  This country is the only country they know and deporting them would be a horrible injustice.  Our District, our Board of Trustees, our Colleges, our faculty and staff, and our student leaders will commit themselves today to provide whatever advocacy they can to Congress, urging our representatives to undue this reprehensible action and restore opportunity to these special young people, the Dreamers, who so richly deserve them."

Categories: Local San Diego News