On September 5, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era immigration policy that grants deportation relief for undocumented people who were brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers.
Established in 2012, DACA currently protects 800,000 immigrant youth nationwide, including almost 8,000 in Wisconsin, and grants them the right to remain in America and receive work permits. The decision has a direct impact on Milwaukee, and city leaders and elected officials have issued a series of statements in reaction to the political development which targets children.
Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“I am angry to learn of the President’s decision to end DACA, an unnecessary and harmful decision that will negatively impact the lives of so many innocent children, adults and their families. Throughout my time as Mayor, I’ve had the opportunity to meet numerous members of our immigrant community, and learn more about their contributions to Milwaukee’s workforce needs and cultural vibrancy. Nearly 8,000 Wisconsinites who contribute to the economic health of our state could potentially be affected by this decision. I stand with business leaders and lawmakers across the country in urging President Trump to reverse his decision and instead choose to uphold the DACA program to provide the necessary protections for our immigrant community until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.”
County Executive Chris Abele released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, it’s an American issue. Splitting up families and deporting young people who’ve known only the promise of the American Dream is antithetical to the fundamental principles this nation was built on. These young immigrants are our friends and neighbors; they are teachers, nurses, artists, scientists, skilled tradespeople, and entrepreneurs; they defend our nation’s freedoms at home and abroad; they contribute to our growing economy. Reversing course on DACA means the removal of nearly 800,000 young people who are woven into the fabric of our communities and are central to this country’s continued greatness. I support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and urge Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work together to ensure these crucial protections remain in place.”
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“Putting the DACA program in place was the right thing to do and it has worked for the past five years. President Trump’s decision ends this protection and breaks a promise we have made to nearly 800,000 young people who are either students, serving in our military, or are working in a job contributing to communities across America. This move by the President is wrong. It tears families apart and prevents Dreamers from reaching their full potential. It is now more important than ever for Congress to take action and do right by Dreamers, who have only known America as their home and built their lives here. I support bipartisan legislation, the Dream Act, introduced by Senators Graham and Durbin to protect these young people and allow them the opportunity to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. We must right this wrong and provide Dreamers a chance to continue helping us build a stronger country.”
Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera Christine Neumann-Ortiz released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“Since Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have openly embraced white supremacy throughout their careers, most recently by supporting Nazis and KKK members in Charlottesville and by pardoning Arpaio, this cruel, discriminatory attack on outstanding young people is sadly not surprising. DACA recipients have shown perseverance, hard work, and compassion for their families and communities. In no way could they be perceived as threatening, and ending DACA exposes how dishonest Trump’s attacks on immigrants are in the most blatant way.”
LULAC National President Roger C. Rocha, Jr. released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“Trump broke his promise to act ‘with heart’ towards the ‘incredible kids’ protected from deportation under DACA. Dreamers are law-abiding young people who bravely emerged out of the shadows, registered with the government, and pursued higher education. Many of them have served in our military, defending our country and our freedom. They fought for us and we must fight for them. These bright young minds make our communities better and our economy stronger, contributing to the growth of our country’s GDP and benefiting all Americans. Deporting DACA recipients could cost the federal government over $60 billion and reduce our economic growth by $280 billion over the next decade. Rescinding DACA is both cruel and bad economic policy.”
Former President Barack Obama released the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:
“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.”
In 2012, as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Obama granted reprieve from deportation and the ability to apply for a work authorization to young people who had been brought to the United States as children, that met certain educational criteria, and that had not been convicted of certain crimes. DACA provides temporary relief from deportation to immigrant students who arrived in the United States as children if they register with the government, pay a fee, and pass criminal and national-security background checks.
The Dream Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), would allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship. This bipartisan legislation would allow these young people, known as Dreamers, to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship if they: Are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children; Graduate from high school or obtain a GED; Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military; Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee; Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
As part of Trump’s plan to phase out DACA, the Administration will not consider new applications for legal status dated after September 5. DACA recipients, whose permit will expire before March 5, must apply for a two-year renewal by October 5. Some Dreamers will be eligible for legal status for another two-plus years, while others may lose their legal status as early as March 6.
An overwhelming 78% of American voters support allowing Dreamers the opportunity to stay in the U.S., including the majority of Trump voters. Yet, the President gave in to pressure from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states to phase out a policy that helps our nation thrive.