MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Trump administration on Tuesday officially announced plans to “wind down” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the U.S. as children without documentation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement in a Tuesday news conference, calling the Obama administration's program "an unconstitutional exercise of authority."
HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES THIS AFFECT?
Nearly 800,000 young immigrants have been able to avoid deportation and offered the opportunity to work legally in the U.S. through DACA, including about 6,300 people in Minnesota. Their stories: Minnesota immigrants respond to DACA decision
DREAMERS FACE NIGHTMARE
DACA was implemented by the Obama administration to offer two-year, renewable amnesty to young immigrants (“Dreamers”) if they were brought to the U.S. as children and met strict security guidelines. Those young immigrants had to be under the age of 31 in June 2012, have come to the United States before turning 16, lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years and have no criminal convictions.
During the presidential campaign, Trump railed against DACA, calling it unconstitutional, but delayed taking action against it for months. But Republican officials filed a lawsuit urging Trump to take action, and the president has apparently made up his mind.
"Those of us who applied for the program came forward in good faith to the federal government, and we gave information like school records and how long we've been here," said Juventino Meza, an outspoken DACA recipient and law school student who has lived in St. Paul for more than 15 years.
TWIN CITIES RALLY
Meza is now helping to organize a solidarity rally in Minneapolis on Tuesday in opposition to the DACA draw-down. Meza says they will march to the Republican Party of Minnesota offices, swing by the Hennepin County sheriff's office and end at the office of Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has been supportive of DACA.
“Immigration is a complex issue. I trust Minnesotans would want to get in the weeds and try to understand how complex the issue is, but there are solutions,” he said.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Former President Barack Obama: "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." Read Obama's full statement
Congresswoman Betty McCollum: “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. 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.”
Sen. Al Franken: “The men and women protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—commonly known as DACA—are American in every single way except immigration status. Often called Dreamers, these are students, innovators, and entrepreneurs who were brought here as children and grew up in the United States. They’re our friends, coworkers, and neighbors, and they make enormous contributions to the economies of Minnesota and the entire country. The decision by President Trump to end DACA is a disgrace to our moral values and principles. It’s not who we are or should be as a nation.
“Let me be clear: I promise that I will fight to protect the Dreamers who live in Minnesota and across the country.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges: Donald Trump's decision to rescind DACA is particularly callous and cold-hearted, even for him. Unless congress acts, nearly a million people raised in this country will be forced to leave. A million more who would be eligible for the program would never get the chance to live securely in what is, in many cases, the only country they've ever known. Millions of families will be torn apart, simply because of misguided policy at best, and rank xenophobia at worst. It's almost unthinkably cruel. I've seen defenses of DACA over the past week that focus on its positive economic impact, or its broad support from immigration policy leaders, faith leaders and elected officials - and the majority of Americans. Those things are true, but I defend DACA because in so many cases, Dreamers represent the best of America - these are human beings who have played by the sometimes unfair rules our government has laid out for them. 90% are employed. They serve our country in the armed forces. They go to college. Every day, they are making positive contributions to their families, their communities and to American life. And still, Donald Trump and his administration can only see them as "other." There are over 6,000 Dreamers in Minnesota alone, and it sickens me to see them targeted in this way. The only saving grace here is that congress will have a chance to right this wrong. I know where Rep. Ellison and Senators Klobuchar and Franken stand, and I urge you to call them with your support. I hope the rest of our legislators can do what Donald Trump couldn't bring himself to do - recognize the humanity of these Dreamers, and come together to protect them.
University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler: "I am deeply disappointed by the decision today to begin to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Along with my senior leadership team, we are especially concerned for young people registered in the program, many of whom are our students. They were given a promise that they would not be targeted for deportation. Today's decision, while delaying the process, still raises that unconscionable possibility. Our students who enrolled in DACA are valued members of our university community. Many DACA students have called Minnesota home for most of their lives. As a system, we will do everything possible under law to support them in the face of today's decision. DACA has changed lives and allowed young people to attend college, pursue graduate degrees and launch careers. In their quest to advance their lives and pursue their learning and life goals, these fellow Minnesotans represent what is best about our state and our nation. I stand with them and urge Minnesota's Congressional delegation to work to extend DACA to protect our students and their families, and to keep the promise of opportunity. Despite today's federal government actions, the Minnesota Dream Act remains a state law that was adopted by the Board of Regents as the official policy for the University of Minnesota system. Students who meet the law's criteria will continue to receive in-state tuition and can apply for financial aid. This nation and our state need a diversity of talent. In fact, recently the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has been leading a statewide discussion on our future workforce and the needs of our employers. It seems shortsighted to penalize not only students, but our employers, at a time when they and our state are in need of talented and educated workers. We strongly encourage all students and staff affected by today's DACA decision to contact the Immigration Response Team or take advantage of the resources available on your campus. The team is ready to meet and consult with students who have questions about their immigration status or their situation at the university. Department heads and advisors can also consult with the Immigration Response Team. Faculty and advisors are also encouraged to refer students with concerns to the team for support and consultations. I will personally monitor this situation carefully and ensure that the resources needed to care for DACA students are available.
Republican Party of Minnesota Chair Jennifer Carnahan: "The President's actions on DACA are reasonable, humane and ensure we are a nation of laws, not merely executive actions. The U.S. Constitution is clear on the subject. In Article 1, Section 8, Congress -- not the President or Judicial Branch -- is given the power to 'establish a uniform rule of naturalization.' President Obama's implementation of DACA was unconstitutional, and instead of putting an immediate end to the program, President Trump rightly provided Congress the time to fashion a legislative solution to the issue. Unlike President Obama, President Trump is following the rule of law."
ACLU Minnesota ACLU interim executive director Teresa Nelson: "Today is a deeply disappointing and heartbreaking day, not only for the thousands of DACA recipients living in Minnesota and across the country, but for their families, friends, neighbors, classmates, and coworkers. All immigrants, including Dreamers, are vital to our communities. It is shameful that the President is using their lives as bargaining chips and pushing Congress to draft and pass hasty legislation. This tactic undermines our government and creates chaos in our communities. Five years ago, President Obama issued an executive order deprioritizing the deportation of undocumented immigrants who arrived to the U.S. as children. Meanwhile, Congress has repeatedly considered but failed to pass legislation that would protect Dreamers and ensure that they could truly live, work, and study in the United States without fear. Minnesota lawmakers must now stand behind the promise made to Dreamers back in 2012. Not only do we need to push for the passage of the DREAM Act of 2017, but we also need to be proactive and move forward state legislation to protect Dreamers and all our immigrant communities. Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, while disappointing, is not surprising. It fits into a broader anti-immigration agenda that he has enacted since day one of his presidency. The executive order is cruel and divisive—but it will not prevail. Where Trump attempts to create chaos, we intend to foster solidarity and resistance. We will continue to fight against this administration’s attempts to criminalize, detain, and deport immigrants and their families."
Minnesota State Interim Chancellor Devinder Malhotra: "At Minnesota State, our core commitments include opening the doors of educational opportunity and ensuring access to an extraordinary education for all Minnesotans. The diversity of our campus communities is a key strength – one that makes us who we are and allows our state colleges and universities to play the critical role they do. As our nationwide dialog concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) continues to unfold, we will continue to express our steadfast support for this policy and strongly urge our federal delegation to preserve its protections. Terminating or phasing out DACA would leave thousands of young people across the country, including perhaps some of our students, with uncertain futures. We are committed to working with our students, our faculty, our staff, and our representatives in Washington toward a long-term solution that supports DACA students and allows them to continue to contribute to our vibrant communities throughout Minnesota and to our economy. Our campuses will remain safe and welcoming places of inclusion, hope, and opportunity for all of our students, faculty, and staff."
Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff: “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. 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.
Today I know that many MPS employees, students and families are experiencing fear, uncertainty, anger and disappointment. Please know you continue to have the support of MPS as the implications of today’s announcement unfold. Please know you can come to work or school tomorrow and receive the same support and educational services that you did before this decision was announced. We continue to believe the words of our Board of Education, which stated in January that the role of a school district is not to ask about the citizenship or immigration status of any of its students or families. Our role is to educate students and we can only do that if our students and employees feel safe.