WASHINGTON — Asian Pacific American members of Congress and civil rights organizations are speaking out against the Trump Administration’s decision — announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday — that it is rescinding the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program instituted by President Obama.
Current beneficiaries of the DACA program will not be affected until March 5, 2018. Within these six months, it will be up to Congress to pass new legislation regarding the future of these DREAMers and other immigrants. However, no new applications to DACA will be accepted. The legislation is called the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “After months of empty rhetoric to the contrary, the President took the cruel and unnecessary step to eliminate DACA – exposing more than 800,000 young people to deportation. They are not criminals. They are inspiring young people aptly called DREAMers because of their dream of making a better life for themselves in the only country they know.
“Ending DACA is the latest step this president has taken to attack minority communities and stoke the fear and divisiveness that served as pillars of his campaign and inform his presidency.
“DACA is clearly constitutional. But by rescinding the program, the president puts the onus on Congress to act. Congress must take appropriate action to provide permanent legal status to DREAMers.
“I want to be clear: I reject any effort to hold these young people hostage for an unnecessary waste of money like Donald Trump’s wall. I will continue to stand with these inspiring young people and groups all across the country to fight this latest cruel and totally unjustifiable action by the president.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: “The Trump Administration’s decision to rescind DACA is a cruel and devastating blow to the nearly 800,000 young Americans currently enrolled in the program. This indefensible action is an open attack on America’s immigrant communities and undermines our core values as a nation.
“By definition, DREAMers contribute to the economy and obey our laws. By ending the DACA program, President Trump betrays his true motives. This is not about the economy or crime; rather he only seeks to further his xenophobic, anti-immigrant agenda, which continues to tear families apart.
“DREAMers are deeply woven into the fabric of our nation, including the many undocumented Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who arrived in the United States as children through no fault of their own. Thanks to DACA, many of these DREAMers have been able to come out of the shadows, give back to their communities, contribute to our society, and strengthen our nation.
“Targeting these individuals for deportation is both morally reprehensible and disruptive to our economy. Further, we will not be extorted by this danger and allow these Americans to be used as bargaining chips to further the president’s anti-immigrant goals, including the construction of an immoral and divisive border wall.
“I call upon Republican leadership in Congress to join with Democrats to take immediate action to protect our nation’s DREAMers. There are already bipartisan, bicameral proposals like the DREAM Act of 2017 which are ready to be voted on. We must pass a permanent legislative solution to ensure that our nation’s DREAMers can continue to pursue their dreams without fear of deportation.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), CAPAC Immigration Task Force chair: “President Trump is destroying the future of nearly 800,000 young men and women who were brought here by their parents and know no other country but this one. After toying with their futures and raising their hopes with talk of his ‘big heart,’ Donald Trump has shown exactly what his priorities are. He has once again sided with hate and xenophobia, putting in place a repeal that is cruel, inhumane and unjust.
“Over the last five years, DACA has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who came to this country as children. This doesn’t even account for the ripple effect it has had on the family and friends of DACA recipients or the positive impact of DACA on our society more broadly. Across the nation, companies, schools and communities have greatly benefited from the talent, skill and unique perspective of the young people granted DACA status in America. The moral cost of repealing DACA is immeasurable. Economically, our country will lose $460.3 billion in GDP over the next decade from this repeal.
“I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to immediately pass stand-alone legislation to protect DREAMers.
“Let me be clear: Our immigrant brothers and sisters are here to stay. Not only are they welcome in our communities – they are essential to our communities. I will continue to fight alongside DREAMers and the immigrant rights movement. I ask my Republican colleagues to consider which side of justice they wish to be on, and join us in passing legislation to protect DREAMers once and for all.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is a case study in cruelty and cowardice. If the president believes – like a vast majority of Americans – that law-abiding and productive young immigrants should not be thrown out of the country, then he should have stood by the DACA program. Instead, nearly one million young people will be forced to live in fear of the future because President Trump lives in fear of upsetting the extreme ideologues in his base.
“DREAMers are our co-workers, classmates, and neighbors. Their families are here. They have built their lives here. For many of these young people, America is the only country they have ever called home. Turning our backs on DREAMers is a stain on America’s conscience and an affront to common decency. It is un-American.
“Ending DACA will also severely damage our economy. More than 90 percent of the young immigrants protected through the DACA program are in the workforce. They strengthen our communities, contribute to our economy, and embody the power of immigration to support American prosperity. This decision could cost California $11 billion every year, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.
“Republicans in Congress have expressed support for DACA kids with their words, but not through their actions. Now is their chance to do what is right. Congress must stand with these young people and demonstrate that – at its heart – America is a fair, strong, and compassionate nation.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles): “As an immigrant to the United States brought here when I was three years old, I know that our nation’s embrace of immigrants is what makes it great. Trump’s cowardly decision to end DACA goes against the very forces that have made America an exceptional country. Deporting hundreds of thousands of Asians and Latinos — nearly half of whom were brought to the U.S. before the age of 7 — is not only cruel, it will hurt our economy. One report estimates an economic loss of $460 billion over the next decade.
“I stand firmly with my Democratic colleagues to fight this action and do whatever we can to protect DREAMers. I call on Speaker [Paul] Ryan to work with Democrats to extend the DACA program through legislation.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “The story of our country’s progress is inseparably linked to the contributions of millions of immigrants from all over the world. The hard work, ambition, and hope that people have brought to America have propelled us forward since our founding.
“Today, by heartlessly denying young DREAMers, the president has turned his back on who we are as a nation. Democrats continue to stand ready in Congress to protect DREAMers and stop President Trump from ripping families apart and denying people opportunities to contribute to our country.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento): “This decision by the Trump Administration goes against our American values, plain and simple. Children brought to the United States – through no fault of their own – deserve our compassion. These children have passed background checks and are already contributing to our economy as productive residents. Detaining and deporting children is not only morally wrong, it doesn’t make economic sense. I urge the administration to reverse this decision immediately.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “Since 2012, nearly 800,000 young people who immigrated to this country have had the opportunity to go to school, gain employment, and continue on with their lives minus the fear of deportation. Today, the Trump Administration once again shows it has no dignity for our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We must safeguard the livelihood of DREAMers and provide these inspiring young people and their courageous parents a pathway to citizenship.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): “DACA recipients make our nation strong and represent the best of America. The president’s decision undermines our nation’s values and is a cruel betrayal to the more than 800,000 young people, including more than 200,000 Californians, who have only ever known the United States of America as their home.
“DREAMers are Americans in every way except a piece of paper. With this decision, President Trump is telling classmates of our children they don’t belong, employees of Fortune 100 companies they aren’t welcome, and saying to those who serve in our military and run small businesses that they should leave. These young people deserve better than that. They came out of the shadows and submitted every detail of their personal lives to prove that they were lawful, productive members of our society. By turning his back on our young Dreamers and their families, President Trump has once again sided with division and hate.
“The consequences of this decision will be devastating. It will split up families, force young people back to countries they never knew, and cost our economy billions of dollars. It is heartless.
“Now more than ever, it is time we roll up our sleeves and stand with these young people who contribute to our community and our economy. Republicans in Congress must immediately allow a vote on the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill we introduced again this summer. We are better than this.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “President Trump’s heartless and unnecessary decision to end the DACA program, while giving Congress an opportunity to act, belies the history behind DACA. Speaker Ryan can express sympathy for ‘those who have done nothing wrong,’ but the reality is Speaker Ryan and 197 other House Republicans voted against the 2010 DREAM Act.
“If House Republicans want to solve this injustice, they should bring the DREAM Act to the House floor immediately and end the uncertainty caused by President Trump’s ill-advised DACA decision.
“DREAMers are young men and women with real lives, jobs, businesses, families and hopes for their future. Many DREAMers have spent more time in the United States than in their home countries. For President Trump to threaten to turn these DREAMers out is unconscionable, but par for the course for a president who has done more to divide this country than unite it.
“I stand with DREAMers and encourage my Republican colleagues to bring the DREAM Act to the floor now.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is wrong. It will break up families and punish young people who were brought to this country as minors through no choice or fault of their own. These are people who have grown up in the United States, and who know no other country to be their home. DACA transformed the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of young people, in Hawaii and across the country. Because of DACA they’ve been able to go to college, find a job, support their family, serve their country, and live free from the constant fear of deportation.
“In my home state of Hawaii, DACA has allowed more than 600 young people to remain legally in our country and contribute to our economy and society, including a member of my staff who came to the United States as a minor from Zimbabwe. Last week on Maui, I had the opportunity to hear from some of Hawaii’s DREAMers and hear their heart-wrenching stories about living in fear and in the shadows until DACA was put into effect. They cried as they shared their stories of the opportunity and freedom they have experienced because of DACA, and the fear of uncertainty in what lies ahead with the prospects of being forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known.
“Congress must act now to enact a permanent solution for these DREAMers and pass the bipartisan DREAM Act now.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Make no mistake—this decision is not about ‘rule of law,’ as Attorney General Sessions claims. This is a gut-wrenching betrayal of American values that leaves nearly 800,000 of our neighbors vulnerable to deportation and will tear families and communities apart. DREAMers are doctors, teachers, students and servicemembers. They have mortgages and jobs. They know only one nation: the United States of America, which is where they were raised.
“To end a program that allowed these patriots to come out of the shadows and more fully contribute to this country is irresponsible and heartless. Congress must act NOW and pass legislation to make DACA the law of the land.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “Through this morning’s announcement on DACA, the president has made clear that he refuses to protect DREAMers and so now Congress must. The administration’s cruel policy includes a six-month phase-out of the DACA program, and Congress must pass legislation to extend this program and protect DREAMers.
“This issue is personal for me because I too was brought to the United States by my parents as a child. The hope for a better a life which carried my parents here was no different from that of the parents of DREAMers, and generations of immigrants before.
In Illinois, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed thousands of young people to live, work, and serve our country without fear of deportation. They have built businesses, raised families, served in our armed forces, and contributed billions to our economy. For many, the United States is the only home they have ever known.
“Through this action, the administration is turning its back on some of our country’s best and brightest. Stripping 780,000 DREAMers of their DACA status will cost our economy nearly half a trillion dollars over 10 years while robbing our country of thousands of entrepreneurs and contributors at leading companies.
“I urge the president and Speaker Ryan to stand with DREAMers and work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass common-sense, compassionate, and comprehensive immigration reform. The DREAMers deserve to stay.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Today, my thoughts are with the thousands of young people across this country who have had their dreams for a better future dashed. President Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA places hundreds of thousands of young people at risk of being deported through no fault of their own. Let’s be clear, DACA protected individuals who were brought to this country as children and who subsequently obeyed the law. Many earned degrees from American high schools and universities, and some even served in our military. These are exactly the type of individuals America should embrace, not turn away.
“Robert F. Kennedy once remarked: ‘Our attitude towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.’ As an elected representative of Queens, N.Y., and as the daughter of immigrants myself, I know this to be true. America is not so small, or insecure, or diminished that it has no place for the next generation of dreamers and seekers within its borders. It is still, even despite today’s decision, a great nation. And our political leaders should begin conducting themselves as such.
“As a member of Congress, I will do everything in my power over the next six months to fight on behalf Dreamers everywhere, and to ensure that today’s profoundly irresponsible decision is reversed.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.): “As a mother, my heart aches over President Trump’s decision to shun those who were brought to this country as children. As an immigrant, I fiercely believe that DREAMers have become an integral part of the fabric of American society. As a former national security specialist, I know that this decision does absolutely nothing to make Americans safer.
“President Trump’s decision will push hundreds of thousands of hard-working and productive individuals back into the shadows. It is now up to Congress to step up and act swiftly to pass bipartisan legislation that ensures DREAMers can continue to live, study, and work in the only country many of them have ever known.
“Failure to act will tear apart families, uproot small businesses, and send a clear message that America no longer welcomes those who are willing to work hard and contribute to the great American experiment. I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will recognize the urgency of this situation and come together to find a permanent legislative solution for the 800,000 aspiring Americans who are affected by the president’s decision.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “I am deeply disappointed President Trump is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In 2012, we asked undocumented immigrants who were brought here at a young age, through no fault of their own, to step out of the shadows and undergo robust background checks in exchange for work authorization and temporary relief from deportation. We promised them an opportunity to legally contribute to their communities.
“Since then, nearly 800,000 undocumented young people have been granted temporary permission to live, learn and work in this country. They have been able to fulfill their dreams of completing college, getting a job, buying a car and owning a home, thereby contributing to economic growth that benefits all Americans. In fact, even without access to federal financial aid, nearly one in three DACA recipients have pursued college and another 40,000 have earned at least a bachelor’s degree since the program’s inception.
“In Virginia alone, there are more than 1,300 undocumented college students who will be impacted by this decision. These students are future social workers, teachers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, small-business owners and more. They are integral to our communities and economies.
“According to the Center for American Progress, DACA recipients stand poised to contribute more than $460 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product – approximately $711 million per year to Virginia alone – over the next decade. Despite powerful evidence of the program’s success, in six months, President Trump will withdraw our country’s promise to these young people who know no other country than the United States as ‘home’. This is in keeping with the administration’s inhumane anti-immigration agenda. In the wake of today’s announcement, Congress must act now to protect DREAMers and immigrant families.”
Japanese American Citizens League: “The Japanese American Citizens League is deeply disappointed by the Trump Administration’s decision to end the Delayed Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA has supported nearly 800,000 young immigrants, or DREAMers, who have worked hard to fit the program’s strict requirements. As a nation we have always prided ourselves on protecting the innocent. In this case, we have failed the children who were brought to this country by their parents, have created full lives as Americans, and have done nothing wrong as they fulfilled their parents’ dreams. To take away these children’s dreams is especially cruel and vicious.
“Repeal of DACA protections will create unnecessary chaos in the communities as families will be torn apart. Additionally, America will experience significant losses to the economy. The cost of workforce replacement alone is estimated will cost American businesses $3.4 billion in turnover costs. The overall impact to the economy is estimated to be $460.3 billion in lost GDP over the next ten years. This disruption and chaos the repeal of DACA will create is reminiscent of when 120,000 Japanese Americans were uprooted from their communities, homes, and businesses during World War II and placed in concentration camps.
“For many in the Japanese American community, our immigration occurred many years ago with our Issei generation. Our community is built upon their dreams. It is with this knowledge of what the American dream has meant for our community, and the dreams of the Issei who have immigrated more recently, that we stand with the immigrant community today in opposition to DACA repeal.
“We are a nation of immigrants, all with the dream of building a better life, both individually and for our country. We urge the Congress to find common ground in preserving the American dream, and pass the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice: “After our government had asked these young people to come forward and put their trust in the government, it is inhumane for our government to strip these young people of the protections DACA has provided. By phasing out DACA, this administration has failed to show moral leadership.
“DACA is a humane and common-sense policy solution that has a firm legal basis. For the past five years, Advancing Justice has fought for and served thousands of Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, African and other DACA applicants and recipients, and we are appalled by the president’s lack of humanity and compassion.
“Today’s action by the administration to terminate DACA underscores its pursuit of an agenda rooted in hate and inhumanity. This decision will affect close to 800,000 young people causing many to lose jobs, drop out of school, face the prospects of deportation and have other destabilizing effects on themselves, their families, and the communities of which they are a part.
“President Trump has assured DACA recipients in the past that they did not need to worry. By changing his mind now, he has shown that he is clearly influenced by a white supremacist agenda, which is also evident in his multiple actions that target reducing immigration options for predominantly Asian, Latino, and African immigrants.
“The administration’s action flies in the face of real facts and data, which shows that the DACA program has been a lifeline for young DACAmented immigrants as well as a benefit to both local and national economies. Pushing these young people back underground will create economic turmoil for our nation. It also directly contradicts the desire of the majority of Americans, as 8 out 10 voters want a more permanent solution for these young immigrants.
“Among the DACA recipients affected by today’s action are many Asian immigrants. Between 2012 and 2017, over 16,000 young Asian immigrants received protection under DACA and, of the Asian immigrants who are undocumented, over 120,000 were eligible for DACA.
“Advancing Justice is calling upon Congress to do what the administration has failed to do. It is incumbent upon our senators and representatives to enact a permanent legislative solution that would once and for all protect our DACA recipients and place them on a pathway to citizenship. Congress needs to pass the DREAM Act immediately.”
Vicki Shu, vice president of public affairs, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates: “We are outraged that President Trump eliminated the DACA program. Despite bipartisan and overwhelming American support, President Trump still condemned over 100,000 DREAMers to deportation. In light of the president’s failure, Congress must swiftly pass the DREAM Act or similar legislation. There needs to be policies that lay out a clear path to citizenship, and separate local law enforcement from federal immigration enforcement. OCA will work with our community partners to fight to protect undocumented communities.”