Several members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation and state-based organizations spoke out Tuesday against the Trump Administration’s announced decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
Lawmakers, who had urged President Donald Trump against ending the program which has given an estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants — who were brought to the U.S. as children — deferral from deportation and a work permit, slammed news that the administration will halt the program after giving Congress six months to come up with a replacement policy.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, blasted the administration’s move and its possible impacts on so-called “Dreamers,” or DACA recipients, in a series of tweets.
“Subjecting Dreamers to mass deportation is part of the bigoted policies that are a cornerstone of (Trump’s administration.) Turning our backs on Dreamers makes us weaker, makes us less safe, and betrays our values,” she posted.
Warren added that if Trump doesn’t know that “America should keep its promises,” then Congress must act to make the DACA program permanent.
“We cannot sit back while our family, friends & neighbors are driven out of their homes. We must fight to protect Dreamers and defend DACA,” she wrote.
Congressman Richard Neal, D-Springfield, cast the administration’s move to phase out DACA as “disgraceful,” adding that individuals benefitting from the program “are our neighbors, friends and family members.”
“They have contributed to our communities in the hopes of attaining the American Dream,” he added on Twitter.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, argued that “ripping young people from their families, their schools and the only home they’ve ever known is a sad betrayal of American values.”
“Dreamers have stepped up to serve their country through academic success, military service and a commitment to improving their communities,” she said in a statement. “Their shot at the American Dream is integral to our country’s economic success. Congress should act immediately to protect Dreamers from this immoral and backward plan.”
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, who joined Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for a news conference in support of DACA recipients, added that he will defend the program “so that all Dreamers in Massachusetts have the same chance to succeed.”
State Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, D-Amherst, wrote in one tweet that the decision “dreams of young people who have done nothing but contribute to our communities & grow our economy.” A subsequent tweet included a longer statement:
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Salem, also raised concerns about the impacts the phase out of DACA could have on individuals currently receiving benefits through the program, adding that he believes the administration’s move “is cruel and unusual, and clearly motivated purely by anti-immigrant political pandering.”
Congressman Bill Keating, D-Bourne, agreed, contending that the decision failed “to take into account that Dreamers are by definition taxpaying, law-abiding, contributing Americans, the majority of which know no other home.”
Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, meanwhile, said the Trump administration’s announcement “has only ratcheted up to a new level of stress the lives of the 800,000 people who have been living legally in the United States and contributing to their communities.”
“The Trump Administration has again chosen cruelty over compassion by inserting yet more doubt into the program and continues to upend the lives of countless young people and their families, while also disrupting thousands of workplaces and communities across the country,” she said in a statement.
With nearly 8,000 “Dreamers” living in Massachusetts, Rose further argued that the state’s economy could be hurt by the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the DACA program.
“Massachusetts has a lot to lose from ending DACA, including more than $606 million in benefits to our local economy,” she said. “Moreover, Massachusetts will also see nearly 8,000 hardworking young people put at risk – our loved ones and neighbors who live, study and work here.”
Contending that the administration’s move creates a new urgency for Congress to pass legislation addressing the vulnerability of these individuals, Rose stressed that the ACLU remains committed to protecting the “freedoms of all Massachusetts residents by challenging any actions we believe to be illegal, unconstitutional and dangerous.”
Citing various legal concerns, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday that the Department of Homeland Security has began an “orderly lawful wind down” of the Obama-era program.
Noting that the administration faced a Tuesday deadline to rescind the program or face a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said the decision to end the program was not taken lightly.
Administration officials said no current DACA beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018 “so Congress can have time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions.” They added that no new initial DACA-related requests or applications filed after Tuesday will be acted on.
The Trump administration, however, will adjudicate DACA renewal requests for current beneficiaries whose benefits are set to expire between Tuesday and March 5, 2018 as long as they submit their applications by Oct. 5.