National, state and local leaders react to Trump's decision over DACA

(Photo: AP)

President Donald Trump’s administration will “wind down” a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Tuesday, calling the Obama administration’s program “an unconstitutional exercise of authority.”

Here are some reactions of national, state and local leaders to Trump's decision of ending DACA:

Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), first vice chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus: “The end of DACA is a tragedy for our nation. Nearly 800,000 young people who love the United States are now thrust into limbo. Families will be torn apart, businesses will lose valued employees, and fear will grow in communities across the country. The Trump Administration’s decision betrays the trust Dreamers put in the government, and it contradicts our nation’s core principles.

“Now it’s up to Congress to do the right thing and pass legislation that will protect DACA recipients. Republicans must make a choice: will they stand with President Trump and help carry out his mass deportation plan, or will they act on behalf of the majority of Americans who support DACA? This decision is not just about policy; it defines our morality. There has never been a more urgent need for Congress to act and take a stand for Dreamers.”

State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez : “There’s nothing more American than what DACA recipients have done with the limited freedom the program has granted them. They have graduated from college, become teachers, started businesses, raised families, and contribute billions of dollars per year to our economy.

“The end of DACA could be devastating for our country unless there is a congressional fix. Students will withdraw from college for their inability to pay, families will lose income as primary breadwinners lose their work permits, and our economy will suffer for the loss of entrepreneurship and economic activity. Our GDP will bear a loss of $433 billion over 10 years if we do not remedy this short-sighted political maneuver.

“In light of today’s announcement, the Republican-controlled Congress must debate the bipartisan Bridge Act in a show of good faith. Folks on both sides of the aisle agree that we need to set aside partisan politics and work on comprehensive immigration reform or bad actors will use the issue to drive our country apart for personal gain. Comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for Dreamers are long overdue.

“I have been inspired by the passion of the young folks I’ve met fighting to defend DACA. Despite this setback, I know that they will continue organizing and making forward progress.”

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa: “Donald Trump and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have put lives at risk and created a problem where there was none. Americans overwhelmingly support the DACA program, yet Trump has chosen to break promises and use immigrant youth as political footballs.

“The very idea of the American Dream is at stake. Texas Democrats proudly stand with all immigrant youth, DREAMers and everyone who defends American values. We call for an immediate bipartisan congressional solution.”

U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX):“President Trump lacked the courage to face the cameras and personally answer questions about his latest flip flop on the fate of 800,000 young people. He dispatched his Administration’s leading anti-immigrant advocate, Jeff Sessions in an attempt to shift responsibility to a Congress that has long failed to address this matter. Many of these Dreamers are children brought here as infants and now Republicans want them to be deported to a country many have never known.

“Today’s tactic represents little more than yielding to those who did not think Trump was already sufficiently anti-immigrant. This is an attempt to make Dreamers bargaining chips to achieve other Trump anti-immigrant objectives. Protecting Dreamers must be nonnegotiable. We cannot break our commitment to these Dreamers, who have been vetted, paid fees, undergone criminal background checks, and are either in school or are already graduates, contributing to our economy. I stand with our Dreamers who are helping make America great.”

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX): “Today President Trump delivered on his promise to the American people. He said he would discontinue DACA, which allows hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrations to stay in the country and gives them work permits.

“By ending the unconstitutional DACA program he has overturned the last of the Obama Administration’s amnesty agenda and returned to the rule of law. President Obama, a former Constitutional law professor, said many times that DACA was unconstitutional. Congress and the administration should strengthen our laws against illegal immigration and ensure that our immigration policies put unemployed Americans first. The U.S. labor participation rate is at a 40 year low.

“President Trump is right not to continue the DACA program and to force Congress to address immigration policies, including securing the border.”

Attorney General Ken Paxton: “I applaud President Trump forphasing out DACA. As the Texas-led coalition explained in our June letter, theObama-era program went far beyond the executive branch’s legitimate authority,”Attorney General Paxton said. “Had former President Obama’s unilateral order onDACA been left intact, it would have set a dangerous precedent by giving theexecutive branch sweeping authority to bypass Congress and change immigrationlaws. If ever there were a violation of the President’s duty to ‘take Care thatthe Laws be faithfully executed,’ DACA was it: President Obama unilaterallyconferred lawful presence and work authorization, and then President Obama usedthat lawful-presence dispensation to unilaterally confer U.S. citizenship.”

U.T. Chancellor William H. McRaven: "For years, Texas has supported students who were born in foreign countries but were brought here as children and raised in the U.S. In fact, Texas was among the first states to grant these Texas high school graduates the opportunity to pay in-state tuition, a benefit The University of Texas System continues to support.

These students consider themselves to be Americans and Texans, proud of the state they see as their home. They, like others, have served our nation with distinction in their academic pursuits, in our nation’s military, and as productive members of society. This service should be applauded and honored. Our nation should recognize the potential in these students, granting them the opportunity to pursue their education and enter the workforce in this country.

The UT System will always follow the law. And while I understand the concern of the President and others about how DACA was implemented, the critical fact is that I and the UT System believe in our DACA students and that their opportunities to contribute to Texas and our nation should be upheld and continued by our leaders in Washington. Congress must now act quickly to provide a bridge for these students to remain in the U.S. and become citizens."

Rep. Carter (R-TX-31): “As both a Houston native and the Chairman responsible for FEMA funding, my current focus remains on providing aid and resources to our fellow Texans in immediate need. The communities impacted by this devastating storm urgently require Congress to take action, and I am committed to ensuring FEMA has the disaster relief funding necessary,” said Rep. Carter. “The Supreme Court upheld the unconstitutionality of President Obama’s expansion of DACA last year, and as a retired Judge, I agree the creation of legislation is the role of Congress, not the President. As Congress takes up immigration reform, I look forward to working with my colleagues on a legislative solution that benefits our nation and provides for the pursuit of the American dream.”

Senator Carlos Uresti (D-TX): "A civilized society does not punish nearly 800,000 young people for coming out of the shadows, a place they found themselves by no fault of their own. Over 124,000 young people in Texas will be negatively impacted. As a member of the Texas Legislature for 20 years, I have been a fighter for the children of Texas, and that commitment doesn't discriminate based on paperwork or country of birth. I implore my Congressional colleagues and President Trump to right this wrong immediately. Destroying the lives of these young adults through deportation is not Christian, moral or right."

Congressional candidate Derrick Crowe (TX-21): “Attorney General Sessions insulted the intelligence of every thinking, feeling American today when he tried to portray the forced roundup, detention, and deportation of 800,000 people as compassionate. Sessions, Smith, and Trump are playing to the most hateful elements of their base by attacking people brought to this country as children by their parents.

“DACA is a real example of a government policy that seeks liberty and justice for all. It is unjust to punish children for decisions they didn’t make. It is unjust to detain and deport people who have only known this country as their home. If carried out, history will mark this decision as one of the worst stains on our national honor.”

Rep. Ana Hernandez (D-Houston): "Hundreds of businesses like Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy, and Wells Fargo have pressed the White House to retain DACA, citing its economic importance. Today, the Trump Administration showed that these requests fell on deaf ears," said State Rep. Ana Hernandez, a former undocumented immigrant and Mexican American Legislative Caucus Legal Counsel. “DACA-eligible employees pay taxes, grow our economy and are entrepreneurs who create jobs. The President's actions will only lead to higher unemployment and a weaker American job market.”

One Texas Resistance: “Texans stand shoulder to shoulder with immigrant youth and their families. Together, we will rebuild our hurricane-ravaged communities. Together, we will face down a dangerous immigration agenda that threatens to rip our families apart.

“One Texas Resistance proudly stands with the 124,300 Texas DACA beneficiaries, their families, and all immigrants. We know that America's strength is our diversity. Immigrant youth have made sacrifices, contributed to our communities, studied in our schools, and graduated from our universities. They are American in every sense of the word.

“We demand an immediate bipartisan congressional solution to protect immigrant youth from deportation.

“Even though our dangerous Texas Legislative special session has ended, our coalition of progressive advocates protecting our fellow Texans has not. Today, and every day we will confront Trump’s agenda and stand together as One Texas.”

Former Vice-President Joe Biden used his Twitter account to share his thoughts:

President Donald Trump: "As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.

The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend.

In June of 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, social security numbers, and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36. The typical recipients of this executive amnesty, known as DACA, are in their twenties. Legislation offering these same benefits had been introduced in Congress on numerous occasions and rejected each time.

In referencing the idea of creating new immigration rules unilaterally, President Obama admitted that “I can’t just do these things by myself” – and yet that is exactly what he did, making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic.

Officials from 10 States are suing over the program, requiring my Administration to make a decision regarding its legality. The Attorney General of the United States, the Attorneys General of many states, and virtually all other top legal experts have advised that the program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court."

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