By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
The White House announced Tuesday it will terminate President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, affecting nearly 800,000 young immigrants working and attending school currently in the United States – with more than 124,000 in Texas alone.
“President Trump took the responsible and constitutional step of announcing that the administration will be phasing out the program over the next two years,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters during Tuesday’s press briefing. “The President was elected partly on his promise for meaningful immigration reform that puts the jobs, wages, and security of the American people first.”
Trump’s decision to end DACA – designed to provide temporary legal status to those brought to the U.S. unlawfully as children – hands a Congress returning from the summer recess the opportunity to institute a replacement program.
Liz Castaneda, a community activist in Carrollton, was disappointed, but not discouraged by the announcement from the Trump administration.
“When it comes to children, there shouldn’t be an argument about our obligation to them. As part of the human race we should see these children as our future. As Christians, this shouldn’t be a discussion at all. I am Mexican American and my culture and race will not be discouraged by today’s words by Jeff Sessions,” Castaneda shared when NDG reached out to her Tuesday afternoon. “Si se puede means ‘yes we can’ in Spanish. Yes, we can overcome today’s announcement, yes we can be united and be the difference. This isn’t the end, this is only the beginning of our fight for our future,” Castaneda stated.
Optimism is not unfounded following the recent court victory related to the Texas lawmakers attempts to enact the so-called “sanctuary cities” bill (Senate Bill 4 commonly referred to as SB4) which has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge. As NDG reported earlier this spring, SB4 calls for an end to any “policies, patterns, or practices that prohibit the enforcement of state or federal immigration law” among local government entities such as municipalities. Any police chiefs not agreeing to comply with the law would possibly face criminal charges and removal from office. However, the judge’s ruling last week prevented implementation of SB4 as planned on Sept. 1.
Across Texas, immigrant advocacy organizations and elected officials have responded to the White House’s decision in widespread disapproval.
“Repealing DACA is yet another attack on our community by Republican leadership,” Dallas State Rep. Victoria Neave posted to Facebook minutes after the announcement was made. “DREAMers are good, hardworking people. DREAMers are our neighbors, our students, my family. This news will disrupt them and their employers, families, patients, and clients.”
“Latinos and immigrants are not political pawns. It’s time this administration works to unite our communities and pass commonsense immigration reform,” said fellow Dallas State Rep. Rafael Anchia.
Under the current program, young undocumented immigrants may acquire the right to live, study, and work legally in America only after passing a background check and having completed school or military service. If a replacement is passed by Congress, it is unclear exactly what such a program would entail.
“It has been comforting to hear senators like Lindsey Graham and representatives like Speaker Paul Ryan speak passionately about defending dreamers,” the Texas Organizing Project said in an official statement Tuesday. “But words are not enough. We expect them to promptly pass a law that gives dreamers a path to citizenship and doesn’t use their lives to try to gain policies that will leave even more families exposed to detention and deportation.”