Top elected officials in Rhode Island spoke out against President Trump’s plan to cancel DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that grants amnesty to 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants.
“As long as I am Governor of this state,” said Governor Gina Raimondo, “Rhode Island will stand up for the American Dream, and the Dreamers who keep it alive. Rhode Island was founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity. Throughout our history, our state has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrants. President Trump’s plan to end DACA is nothing short of cruel, and it would be a disaster for the nation’s economy.”
Raimondo was joined by urban mayors, top Democrats, other state general officers, and “Dreamers” Rodrigo Pimentel, an officer with the Rhode Island Progressive Democrats, and Javier Juarez, a Brown University graduate student.
Both Pimentel, who has written about DACA for RI Future, and Juarez grew up believing DACA meant they could live their lives as United States residents. Its repeal means they, and more than a thousand Rhode Islanders, have no idea what the future holds in store.
“Without DACA, everything that I have worked so hard for will vanish,” Juarez said. “Without DACA, I would have never been able to drive, get a decent paying job with benefits, graduate from Rhode Island College and get accepted into Brown University. I will continue to fight for DACA. I don’t need a set of papers to show the government that I am a stand-up citizen.”
The group of Democrats told Rhode Islanders seeking support with DACA or general immigration issues to reach out to Progreso Latino, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, or Roger Williams Law School Immigration Law Clinic. “It is so devastating to families and the impact it will have on them educationally and personally,” said Warwick Rep. Joe McNamara, chairman of the state Democratic Party. “These young citizens will lose the opportunity to fulfill themselves, and it will negatively impact our economic prospects for this generation.”
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Central Falls Mayor James Diossa are both children of immigrants to this country, and spoke forcefully about the equity and economic implications of ending DACA.
“The elimination of DACA is a direct attack on the American Dream for 800,000 young people,” Elorza said. “Dreamers are Americans in virtually every way and it is deeply disheartening that they now face additional anxiety and uncertainty. Congress has the ability to bring hope back to DREAMers and we urge them to come together in a bipartisan way. We have 6 months to get the job done, let’s get to work.”
Diossa said, “President Trump’s decision today is going to hurt the progress of our country. Many of our kids benefitting from DACA are potential doctors, lawyers, scientists, and small business owners. They are creators, builders and innovators,” he said. “The President has stopped the opportunity to make our country stronger – by having our kids paralyzed from seeking a better future.”
Lt. Governor Dan McKee said, “Here in Rhode Island, we have thousands of amazing young people who are protected by DACA, many who have only ever known Rhode Island as their home,” said . “These young people are studying, working, running small businesses, paying taxes, and building their own families. DACA protects the progress they have made and the many contributions they continue to make to the social and economic fabric of our state. Halting this program is inhumane and stands against everything Rhode Islanders stand for.”
General Treasurer Seth Magaziner said, “Dreamers represent the best of the American spirit – young people going to school, working, and volunteering to build a better life. President Trump’s plan to expel these promising young people is cruel and un-American. We must all have the courage to speak out.”
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said, “DACA children have known nothing else but this country as their home, they contribute greatly to the fabric of our community, and they deserve our protection from any attempt to undermine their rights as residents. This is one of the most heartless and immoral decisions the President has made yet. We are a nation built on the contributions of our many immigrant populations, and we are a stronger nation because of those contributions. Now the President is turning his back on children who have so much to give to this country. We cannot sit idly by as he strips DACA grantees rights they have been afforded and deserve.”
Rhode Island’s congressional delegation chided Trump for ending DACA earlier in the day.