Statements from corporations and local groups about the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that had shielded undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 are starting to roll in. Six months from today, DACA recipients will lose their protections against deportation. Responses we’ve seen so far pretty much range from “Look Upon Thy Shame, America” to “Saddle my warhorse.”
From ACLU Arkansas Executive director Rita Sklar:
“Five years ago, the federal government made a promise to young immigrants who were brought to the country as children: as long as you pass a criminal background check you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people, including more than 5,000 here in Arkansas, came out of the shadows, built their lives and trusted the government to hold up its end of the bargain.
“Today, in a cruel and shameful breach of trust, the government and President Trump, egged on by our own Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, went back on their word and put the futures of 800,000 Dreamers at risk.
“Now the fate of 800,000 young adults lies in the hands of Congress. Congress must pass the DREAM Act to provide these hardworking young people the protections they deserve.
“To every young Dreamer affected by this decision, we are not giving up. While this is a hard day for the immigrant community and America as a whole, we will keep fighting. Nothing will deter these Americans and our allies in Arkansas and across the country from continuing to fight for their right to live and work in the only country they’ve ever called home.”
We are deeply disappointed by the administration’s decision today to rescind protection under the program for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As we said last week, we believe this is a big step back for our entire country. The question for individuals, employers and the country is what we do now… As this debate moves forward, we need to remember that these 800,000 individuals came to our nation as children. They grew up in this country. They attended our local schools and count millions of American citizens as friends. They obey our laws, pay taxes here and have registered voluntarily with the federal government for DACA relief. They are loyal to this country and contribute their time and money to local churches, schools and community groups. The Dreamers are part of our nation’s fabric. They belong here.
From Arkansas League of United Latin American Citizens State Director Rey Hernandez:
State’s Attorney Generals from ten states, including Arkansas’ Leslie Rutledge, and the Governor of Idaho have sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in an effort to threaten President Trump with a lawsuit if he does not rescind the 2012 memorandum allowing DACA (Differed Action for Childhood Arrivals). The President of the United States has announced that he will be making an announcement regarding the future of DACA by no later than Tuesday, September 5th which happens to be the deadline imposed, before taking legal action, in the letter signed by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and the governor of Idaho.
If the President bends to this threat and rescinds DACA, it will immediately put in jeopardy approximately 800,000 young immigrants who have benefitted from the program. It impacts approximately 9,000 in Arkansas alone. Estimates are that these “Dreamers” if removed from the workforce would cause the loss of $460.3 billion in GDP over one decade, not to mention the tens of billions in contributions they would have made to Medicare and Social Security. Businesses stand to lose $3.4 billion just from turnover costs in the workforce.
It is my opinion that the actions by these few attorneys general and the one governor are a misguided attempt to use this immigration issue as a political tactic to force President Trump to go against the wishes of the country and the congress. They are making a moral and economic mistake in targeting innocent children who had no say in their destiny or future but want to be productive members of American society. Just as America does not punish the children of murderers or drug deals, so too must we not label these victims of undocumented migration as “criminals” and somehow less worthy of the full protection of the government.
This issue is a matter for congress and not one that should be suddenly resolved at the behest of ten state attorneys, most of which represent states that do not even border a foreign country. Let’s not forget that the President has said he wants the best and brightest from other countries to be migrating here. As it turns out, individually, the “Dreamers” have served in the military, pursued advance degrees, and have contributed to the growing economy of America. I would remind Attorney General Leslie Rutledge that she is an elected official and Arkansas corporations, university chancellors, and the majority of the voters support DACA and wish for it to continue.
This is a sad day for our country. The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.
The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbors. They contribute to our communities and to the economy. I’ve gotten to know some Dreamers over the past few years, and I’ve always been impressed by their strength and sense of purpose. They don’t deserve to live in fear.
DACA protects 800,000 Dreamers — young people brought to this country by their parents. Six months from today, new DACA recipients will start to lose their ability to work legally and will risk immediate deportation every day.
It’s time for Congress to act to pass the bipartisan Dream Act or another legislative solution that gives Dreamers a pathway to citizenship. For years, leaders from both parties have been talking about protecting Dreamers. Now it’s time to back those words up with action. Show us that you can lead. No bill is perfect, but inaction now is unacceptable.
Our team at FWD.us has been working alongside Dreamers in this fight, and we’ll be doing even more in the weeks ahead to make sure Dreamers have the protections they deserve.
If you live in the US, call your members of Congress and tell them to do the right thing. We have always been a nation of immigrants, and immigrants have always made our nation stronger. You can learn more and get connected at Dreamers.FWD.us
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.
Democratic Party of Arkansas Chairman John Michael Gray:
I am severely disappointed in this administration’s decision to end DACA. And what is even more disappointing is that our own Attorney General Leslie Rutledge helped him do it. 800,000 young people – 10,000 in Arkansas – who grew up here and have only known the United States as home are now at risk of deportation. It’s impractical as it is coldhearted.
Our Republican leaders need to stop rubber stamping a federal agenda that hurts the interests of our state. It’s time Governor Hutchinson stepped up to lead for Arkansas – not fall in line behind President Trump. We must call on Governor Hutchinson as well as our representatives in Congress – Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Rick Crawford, Rep. French Hill, Rep. Steve Womack, Rep. Bruce Westerman – to do their jobs and get to work on comprehensive immigration reform that protects these young people. We know the bipartisan support this issue enjoys; it should be simple. We’ll see if Republicans can put down their political games for a minute and come together on this important issue.
A statement from UCA president Houston Davis
The recent decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, unless Congress takes action within six months, has increased the uncertainty surrounding students that are enrolled at UCA and other universities in Arkansas and throughout the country. All of this sheds light on the fact that executive action for or against the interests of these students does nothing to bring clarity to their legal status. Congress ultimately has to take action in order to find a permanent and legislative solution.
We are committed at UCA to supporting our students impacted by DACA and will assist them as far as the law allows. These young women and men make a tremendous impact in our communities and on our economies. A recent Cato Institute report found that an immediate dissolution of DACA would have a $60 billion negative impact to the federal government, a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade, and would do little to address real concerns regarding unauthorized immigration. The women and men that fall under DACA are working in our communities, attending our universities, and serving in our armed forces. We are proud of the contribution that they make to our American tapestry. As we attempt to reach out to any of our UCA family that are impacted by these latest DACA developments, we want them to know that they are valuable members of our university community and represent the great spirit of our nation. As a nation of immigrants, we know that these students’ energy, creativity, innovation, and work ethic will fuel the American century to come.
“Today’s news about President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is not a surprise to the leadership of Arkansas State University. In the days leading up to the announcement, we have reached out to our A-State DACA students to reassure them that that we include them in the concept that Every Red Wolf Counts.
“As I meet with them, I am saddened to see how this policy shift dramatically affects the lives of these students. In the days and weeks to come, we will continue to work with our DACA students to ensure that they have all of the information that they need to plan accordingly.
“Like all of our students, my first priority for DACA students is that they feel safe, that they are heard, and that their studies are not disrupted by external concerns. I remain committed to supporting all of our students, including our DACA students, to the extent that federal and state laws permit. I have asked Dr. Thilla Sivakumaran, the Executive Director of Global Initiatives, to serve as our lead contact for any A-State students who have questions about how the policy change affects their status.”
We’ll add to this as more reactions come in…