September 1, 2017

House Speaker Ryan, Republicans, Businesses, Urge Trump to Leave DACA Alone


Undocumented youth and immigrant rights advocates rallied outside the White House Friday following reports that Trump may end a program that offers protection from deportation to immigrants who arrived in the country as children. (Photo: Ricardo A. Ramirez/@RicardoEnDC/Twitter)


By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason / 09.01.2017

House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan urged President Donald Trump on Friday not to rescind an Obama-era program that protects immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children, joining business leaders and others opposing the move.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump will announce on Tuesday whether he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which protects nearly 800,000 people from deportation. It also makes those covered, so-called Dreamers, eligible for work permits.

“We love the ‘Dreamers,’” the Republican president told reporters in the Oval Office.

Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch, both Republicans, on Friday joined a small but growing number of lawmakers from the majority party to speak out against killing DACA, created in 2012 by Democratic former President Barack Obama and long the target of conservative immigration hard-liners.

“I actually don’t think he should do that, and I believe that this is something Congress has to fix,” Ryan said in an interview with WCLO radio in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin.

“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution. That’s one that we’re working on. And I think we want to give people peace of mind,” Ryan added.

Hatch said in a statement that rescinding the program would further complicate a U.S. immigration system sorely in need of legislative reform.

“Like the president, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress,” the longest-serving Republican senator added.

Trump made a crackdown on illegal immigrants a centerpiece of his 2016 election campaign and has stepped up deportations since taking office in January. But business leaders say immigrants make important economic contributions and that ending the program would hit economic growth and tax revenue.

Congress under presidents of both parties has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama bypassed the Republican-led Congress and created DACA through an executive order. Obama in 2014 signed another order providing similar protections as DACA to millions of additional illegal immigrants who were parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, but a group of Republican states led by Texas blocked it with a lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sanders said Trump, who previously has called DACA illegal, is not taking the decision lightly.

“The president’s priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers,” Sanders told a news briefing.

Most of the Dreamer immigrants came from Mexico and other Latin American countries. More than 200,000 live in California, while 100,000 are in Texas. New York, Illinois and Florida also have large numbers.

What to do about Dreamers has been actively debated within the White House and Trump administration. One senior administration official described the debate as a “tug of war” between factions in favor and against the move.

‘FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY’

Leading business figures including Facebook Inc (FB.O) CEO Mark Zuckerberg have rallied in defense of the program and the Dreamers.

“These young people represent the future of our country and our economy. They are our friends and family, students and young leaders in our communities,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook posting late on Thursday.

DACA supporters argue that the people it protects grew up and were educated in the United States and were integrated into American society, with little connection to the countries in which they are citizens. Opponents of the program argue that illegal immigrants take jobs from U.S. citizens.

There are deep divisions in the United States over the fate of roughly 11 million illegal immigrants, most of them Hispanics. Trump as a candidate promised to deport all of them.

Undoing DACA could have political consequences for Trump and his fellow Republicans, further alienating Hispanics, a growing voting bloc in the United States. Trump’s pardon for an Arizona sheriff who critics accused of targeting Hispanics, his planned wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and his comments about Mexico sending “rapists” and drug dealers into the United States already had antagonized many Hispanic Americans.

Trump in February, four weeks after taking office, signaled he was conflicted over the DACA program, telling a news conference he would “deal with DACA with heart” and calling the matter “one of the most difficult subjects I have.” Trump said “some absolutely incredible kids” were among those covered by DACA, but also gang members and drug dealers.

Drawing Fire from Business

President Donald Trump is expected to rescind an Obama administration policy that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants who as children entered the country illegally, setting the stage for a fight with U.S. business leaders and lawmakers over tough immigration policy.

A senior administration official told Reuters on Thursday that the plan could be announced as early as Friday and that Trump would let the so-called Dreamers stay until their work permits expire.

Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigration to give more jobs to Americans. But business leaders say the Dreamers make important economic contributions and that ending the program will hit economic growth and tax revenue.

The technology industry quickly mobilized opposition, as it did to Trump’s travel ban in January for visitors from Muslim-majority countries. Microsoft Corp President Brad Smith said the country cannot afford to “lose the tremendous talent of these individuals.”

On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers and a handful of Republicans urged Trump not to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or “Dreamers” program.

“@POTUS must uphold pledge 2 treat #DREAMers with “great heart” + give these young folks certainty 2 stay in US, the only country they know,” U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is Cuban-American, said on Twitter.

Trump, a Republican, had pledged on the election campaign trail to scrap all of Democratic former President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

What to do about the so-called Dreamers has been actively debated within the White House and Trump administration. One senior administration official described the debate as a “tug of war” between factions in favor of the move and those opposed.

Officials, believing the DACA program to be ultimately unconstitutional, want Congress to impose a legislative fix for the Dreamers, two officials said.

President Donald Trump is expected to rescind an Obama administration policy that protects from deportation nearly 800,000 immigrants who as children entered the country illegally, setting the stage for a fight with U.S. business leaders and lawmakers over tough immigration policy.

A senior administration official told Reuters on Thursday that the plan could be announced as early as Friday and that Trump would let the so-called Dreamers stay until their work permits expire.

Trump has promised to crack down on illegal immigration to give more jobs to Americans. But business leaders say the Dreamers make important economic contributions and that ending the program will hit economic growth and tax revenue.

The technology industry quickly mobilized opposition, as it did to Trump’s travel ban in January for visitors from Muslim-majority countries. Microsoft Corp President Brad Smith said the country cannot afford to “lose the tremendous talent of these individuals.”

On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers and a handful of Republicans urged Trump not to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or “Dreamers” program.

“@POTUS must uphold pledge 2 treat #DREAMers with “great heart” + give these young folks certainty 2 stay in US, the only country they know,” U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is Cuban-American, said on Twitter.

Trump, a Republican, had pledged on the election campaign trail to scrap all of Democratic former President Barack Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

What to do about the so-called Dreamers has been actively debated within the White House and Trump administration. One senior administration official described the debate as a “tug of war” between factions in favor of the move and those opposed.

Officials, believing the DACA program to be ultimately unconstitutional, want Congress to impose a legislative fix for the Dreamers, two officials said.

Microsoft’s Smith said in a blog post on Thursday that the company knows of 27 employees who are DACA beneficiaries, including software engineers, finance professionals and sales associates.

“These employees, along with other DREAMers, should continue to have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to our country’s strength and prosperity,” Smith wrote.

In addition, a letter being circulated among tech companies obtained by Reuters expressed concern over the threatened demise of DACA, calling Dreamers vital to the economy. Executives from Microsoft, Lyft, Uber and other prominent firms have signed onto the letter, a source familiar with the situation said.

“With them, we grow and create jobs,” the letter said. “They are part of why we will continue to have a global competitive advantage.”

U.S. Representative Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican who is a centrist, announced on Twitter that he will attempt to force a vote on bipartisan legislation that would protect from deportation immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

“#DACA participants grew up here, went to school here, and should be allowed to stay here. The time has come to take action,” Coffman wrote on Twitter.

Coffman introduced his bill earlier this year, along with Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez. It is a companion bill to legislation introduced in the Senate by the chamber’s number two Democrat, Dick Durbin, and Republican Lindsey Graham.

Ten Republican state attorneys general in June urged the Trump administration to rescind the DACA program, while noting that the government did not have to revoke permits that had already been issued.

If the federal government did not withdraw DACA by Sept. 5, the attorneys general said they would file a legal challenge to the program in a Texas federal court.

The effort was led by Texas and joined by state attorneys general in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Kayleigh Lovvorn, a spokeswoman for Texas attorney general, on Thursday said her office has no plans to push back the Sept. 5 date.

A larger coalition of 26 Republican attorneys general had challenged the Obama-era policy covering illegal immigrant parents, known as DAPA, that had been blocked by the courts before it took effect. The Department of Homeland Security rescinded that policy earlier this year.

Immigrants who entered the country illegally as children have been able to qualify for DACA if they were under the age of 31 when the program began on June 15, 2012. They would have to have entered the United States before they turned 16, however, and to have lived continuously in the country since June 15, 2007.

“DACA allowed me to reach my goal of a bachelor’s degree in sociology but I still have dreams of getting my master’s degree and even a doctorate,” said 25-year-old Diana, who immigrated with her parents from Mexico when she was a one year old. She asked that her family name not be used.

“So I’m going to continue moving forward” she added, “and I’m going to keep fighting for my community because it doesn’t end here.”

Comments

comments