As Trump Administration Makes DACA Announcement, Local Lawmakers & Organizations React
SACRAMENTO –The Trump administration on Tuesday formally announced the end of DACA — a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.
In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business and education communities at large have joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US.
The Cost of Ending DACA
Roughly a quarter of all people receiving DACA protections live in California, according to Jose Rodriguez, the executive director of El Concilio in Stockton. Rodriguez's organization has helped nearly 3,000 local students enroll in the DACA program since 2012 -- that's thousands of people who work and pay taxes in the Central Valley.
According to the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington, the end of DACA could mean a loss of $60 billion in tax revenue. On top of that, employers face $6.3 billion in the additional costs due to turnover.
El Concilio plans to appeal to lawmakers to find a solution.
Religious Leaders Defend Program
Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto spoke in front of a number of religious and educational leaders Tuesday at Sac State.
Soto also had a number of DACA students with him.
"I'm only 12 units away from graduating. So close," student Maria Jose Fernandez Flores said. She said she was speechless following Tuesday morning's announcement in Washington.
DACA allowed Flores to become legally employed.
"I'm already struggling to pay tuition this semester, and I'm thinking I just started this new job, how am I supposed to be able to pay for my tuition if I'm going to lose this job?" she said.
Flores' mother moved her from Peru when she was just 4 years old. She says her connections to Peru are through Facebook only.
She stood beside other DACA students and Bishop Soto to call on Congress to save the program.
"Pass an immigration reform that will respond to the needs of DACA students and to the needs of many of their families," Soto said.
California AG 'Ready to Sue' for DACA
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Tuesday that he is "ready to sue" the Trump Administration in defense of DACA.
"We're here to say as leaders of our great state where one of every four of those DACA recipients lives that we are prepared to defend them," Becerra said. "We want to send a very clear message to the Trump administration. That we are ready to sue to defend the DACA program."
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla joined Becerra in not holding back criticism of the president in sending Sessions out to make the announcement.
"He didn't even have the courage to face the cameras himself. He didn't even have the courage to speak directly to the 800,000 'Dreamers' across the country whose lives are now facing a critical urgency," Padilla said. "The decision is simply and morally wrong."
Becerra did not give many details on the lawsuit, but said it could be filed as early as Wednesday.
"We are prepared to go in tomorrow or when it seems appropriate to court to make sure we stand up for those who have stood up for and helped build this country and certainly California," Becerra said.
Demonstrators take to the streets
With loud voices and heavy hearts, advocates for people brought to this country illegally as children converged on the federal ICE detention center on Sacramento's Capitol Mall to protest -- public defiance on behalf of DACA, at the very place where some beneficiaries may soon be detained.
"Before I got it, my life was completely different. After I got it I was able to get a good paying job. I went back to school," said Mauro Arias.
California's attorney general announced his protest would come in the form of a lawsuit against President Trump's administration.
"An argument could be made that we have an equal protection clause violation again, like with the travel ban, that what's going on here represents animus toward Mexican Americans," said Leslie Jacobs, constitutional law professor at McGeorge School of Law.
Butting heads with the 14th amendment.
But some question how you can claim protections from the constitution for people whose very presence in the country is an illegality.
“It's a difficult argument to be made, but it could be, and some of that would have to do with their stake in the United States. How long they've been here," Jacobs said.
These folks say that stake is huge and it's what matters most.
"What is the harm that we are causing to other people?" Arias said.