Minnesota Officials, Organizations React to Decision to End DACA

September 05, 2017 10:16 PM

Minnesota officials and immigrants' rights organizations say they'll fight to defend thousands of young residents brought to the United States illegally as children.

President Donald Trump's administration announced Tuesday it would rescind the Obama-era program protecting those children called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The decision affects more than 800,000 young immigrants, including roughly 3,600 currently living in Minnesota who have received driver's licenses and work permits.

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RELATED: DACA Explained: Things to Know About the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program


What do you think of President Donald Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months?

Let your elected officials know your views on the issue.

Here are the websites and contact numbers of Minnesota's Congressional delegation:

Rep. Tim Walz (D) - (202) 225-2472; https://walzforms.house.gov/contact/

Rep. Jason Lewis (R) - (202) 225-2271; https://jasonlewis.house.gov/contact/

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R) - (202) 225-2871; https://paulsen.house.gov/contact-me/

Rep. Betty McCollum (D) - (202) 225-6631; https://mccollum.house.gov/contact/email

Rep. Tom Emmer (R) - (202) 225-2331; https://emmer.house.gov/contact/email

Rep. Collin Peterson (D) - (202) 225-2165; https://collinpeterson.house.gov/contact-me

Rep. Rick Nolan (D) - (202) 225-6211; https://nolan.house.gov/contact


Minnesota's Democratic Sen. Al Franken called the action "a disgrace to our moral values and principals."  And fellow Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said ending the program "would create tremendous uncertainty and risk deportation for DREAMers across the country." 

Several state lawmakers say they're exploring what the state can do to shield recipients from potential harm if Congress doesn't pass new safeguards.

"President Trump abandoned the Dreamers today, but Congress must not," read part of a statement from Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison. "I urge Congress to immediately support a long-term solution for participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. I also call on the Trump administration to forego all enforcement action against Dreamers.

"President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program is a devastating betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of youth who placed their trust in our government. For the past five years, DACA has provided a pathway to hope and prosperity for nearly 800,000 young people across our nation, including almost 6,300 youth in Minnesota. DACA recipients make up the very fabric of our communities – as parents, students, veterans, law clerks, teachers, and more – and have lived almost their entire lives as Americans. The President’s decision will damage their futures and tear families apart. It is cruel and un-American."

Ellison's statement went on to link the decision to the controversy over Trump's response to events in Charlottesville several weeks ago.

"President Trump cannot separate his decision to coddle the neo-Nazis and the KKK in Charlottesville from his cruel decision to slam the door in the face of Dreamers. It's what he means when he says "Make America Great Again," the statement went on to say. "Taken as a whole, his presidency represents a step backwards to the bad old days before "liberty and justice for all" was a commonly accepted idea.

RELATED: Trump Rescinding DACA Program Protecting Young Immigrants

"Today's announcement does not reflect the values of our nation. Let me be clear: these children are Americans. This is their home. Deporting DREAMers, who contribute much to our society, harms our economy and our moral fabric," added Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in a statement.

"Inaction on immigration policy has led to system that is unacceptable legally and morally. The decision by the President to end the DACA program only makes it worse," said Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson in a statement. "Changes to our immigration system need to be focused on solving problems, and should not target those who were brought to the U.S. as children, raised as Americans and who are studying and working legally in our country."

Republican Rep. Tom Emmer said he supported the decision to end the program, saying the proper solution to the issue should originate in Congress.

RELATED: Obama Calls Trump's DACA Phase-Out 'Cruel,' 'Self-Defeating'

"Under the Obama Administration, Americans witnessed numerous actions taken by the Executive to bypass Congress and unilaterally rewrite our nation's laws," read a statement from Emmer. "DACA is a prime example of this executive overreach. I have long been a vocal supporter of the legislative branch, not the executive, being the proper arena to write and reform laws. This is an immensely complex issue and I fully support the opportunity for our nation's lawmakers to gather public input, hold committee hearings, and ultimately determine how best to reform our country's immigration system moving forward." 

Those sentiments were echoed by his fellow Republican Rep. Jason Lewis.

"Federal law-making authority rests with Congress - not the executive branch," Lewis said in a statement. "I support returning this power designated by the constitution to Congress. President Obama's executive order skirted Congress' constitutional authority and made DACA untenable in its current form. It's important that we debate comprehensive solutions in the next six months and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to address the final status of DACA enrollees."

But Rep. Rick Nolan said Trump's decision was not in the best interest of the nation.

"The president's decision is mean spirited, tearing families apart, and not in the interests or the spirit of our Nation," Nolan said in a statement. "Congress must now act on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation giving these young people the opportunity to stay in America, earn their citizenship, and use their talents to move our Nation forward." 

And fellow Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum decried the move as well.

"President Trump's elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is a cruel betrayal of 800,000 young DREAMers who love this country and call America home. Deporting college students, first responders, and service members who came to America as children is bigoted, callous, and does nothing to make America stronger," McCollum said in a statement.  

"House Republican leadership must immediately bring legislation to the House Floor to preserve DACA and protect DREAMers from deportation. House Democrats are united and we will fight to protect DREAMers and the best of American values they represent."

Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen said the system needs to be fixed, but those covered by DACA should be allowed to stay.

"Our broken immigration system needs to be fixed, because it's harming our economy and locking out the next generation of innovators," Paulsen said in a statement. "This includes ensuring that young people who came to the United States through no fault of their own and have done nothing wrong are able to be valuable contributors to our country."

In an email to Minneapolis Public Schools families and staff, superintendent Ed Graff said the school district opposes the decision to end the program.

RELATED: Minnesotans Prepare For Possible Loss of DACA Program

"We are gravely concerned and stand with the leaders of many large urban school districts around the nation in speaking out against today's White House announcement that the DACA program will be ended — whether now or in six months," a portion of the email read. 

"We join with those leaders in asking Congress to act quickly to pass legislation to protect the DACA provisions and remove the uncertainty facing so many of our students and families.

The decision also spurred rallies across the Twin Cities. Several immigration rights organizations planned a rally late Tuesday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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