Rhode Island’s all-Democratic congressional delegation reacted harshly today after the White House confirmed President Donald Trump plans to upend immigration status for 800,000 Americans by eliminating DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“President Trump’s priorities are backwards,” said Senator Jack Reed. “This decision is shameful and cruel,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “America has always stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “But not today.” And Congressman Jim Langevin said, “Today marks a sad chapter in our country’s history.”
The Obama-era program allowed children of undocumented immigrants, known as Dreamers, to stay in the country legally. Repeal means people who have lived in the United States their entire lives, and did nothing wrong, could be sent to countries they have never known. Trump, a nationalist who vociferously opposes immigration but gives sanction to white supremacy, said he canceled DACA because he thought Obama overstepped his authority in implementing it.
Rhode Island “Dreamer” Rodrigo Pimentel is speaking with local Democratic leaders later today, including: Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt Gov Dan McKee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, both children of immigrants, state representatives Grace Diaz, of Providence, and Shelby Maldonado, of Central Falls.
Here are the full statements from Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.
Senator Jack Reed:
“President Trump’s priorities are backwards. He stands behind divisive figures like Joe Arpaio, but shows no compassion for bright, hardworking kids. The President’s policy could split up families, hurt our economy, and send children who’ve been living and studying here away to countries they have never known.
In essence, the President is setting deportation dates for 800,000 young people who have pursued an education, contributed to their communities, and stayed out of trouble. Some of these young Americans are serving honorably in our Armed Forces and may now be thrust into legal limbo.
President Trump’s heartless decision to revoke DACA is a moral, humanitarian, and economic failure on his part. Rescinding DACA this way is not about the rule of law, it is about President Trump pandering to an extreme viewpoint. The fact that President Trump was unwilling to make this announcement himself is an acknowledgement that this is about appeasing his most virulent and vocal voters, not leading the greatest country in the world.
There are also real economic consequences to revoking DACA. The Center for American Progress estimates that terminating DACA and removing unauthorized workers could cost the United States about $460 billion in economic growth over the next decade. There is no good economic argument for this action.
As I’ve long said, we need comprehensive and realistic immigration reform legislation. We should show compassion for Dreamers and work toward immigration policies that strengthen our nation and help our economy grow. In the wake of the President’s failure, Congress should also act on a bipartisan basis to create a pathway to citizenship for young people who were brought here by their parents as children and continue making meaningful contributions to our country. I believe the Senate can do so, but I’m concerned that the House will fail to act.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse:
“This decision is shameful and cruel. These are children of our nation who had no say in coming here. They’ve studied diligently and worked hard to make a better future for themselves and their families. They’ve given back to their communities. This program takes those contributions into account and grants well-earned peace of mind.
“Throughout my time in the Senate, I’ve pushed for a comprehensive plan to fix our immigration system. That plan should secure our borders and establish a tough process for those here illegally to get right by the law. But it must treat people – especially children – humanely.
“Unraveling this program confronts none of the major problems with our immigration system. Instead, the President is breaking apart families and bruising our economy. And, on the heels of Charlottesville, he is signaling to champions of hate and bigotry that their voices matter most.”
“This is a shameful moment for our country. America has always stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. But not today. Dreamers were brought here as young children. They love this country. They share our values. They are contributing to their communities every day. What President Trump just did is despicable and cruel. Every Republican should not only be speaking out against this President today, but they should immediately bring legislation to the House floor to right this wrong. Make no mistake, until they back up their words with actions, Republicans are giving Donald Trump a blank check to put his hateful ideas into action.”
“Today marks a sad chapter in our country’s history. President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program is a victory for anti-immigrant ideologues and further evidence of his Administration’s general lack of empathy. DACA participants are not criminals. Their average age of immigration to the U.S. is six and half years old, and it would be a miscarriage of justice for us to punish them for their parents’ decisions.
Implementing today’s executive action will cause devastation to youth who are active members of Rhode Island’s communities and who strive for a better future. DACA recipients work, go to school, contribute to our economy, and serve in our military. They should not live in fear of deportation, rather they should be embraced as patriotic individuals who have always considered America their home.
During the next six months, I will do everything in my power to protect DACA recipients from the Administration’s cruel actions and to find a permanent legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system compassionately and effectively.”