By Bill Parry
The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era policy which allows young people who came to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country without fear of deportation. The move had an immediate impact on Queens, where elected officials spoke out on behalf of the young people who are affected among the borough’s large immigrant population.
The program, which began under a 2012 executive order by President Obama, covers nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the country before their 16th birthday. It applies to so-called Dreamers who were younger than 31 before 2012, haven’t been convicted of a felony or major misdemeanors and are in school or in military service.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision calling DACA, as it is known, as an “open-ended circumvention of immigration law through unconstitutional authority by the executive branch,” but Congress was given six months to address the issue. Sessions said the program would be phased out and no new applications would be accepted after Sept. 5.
DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, passed background checks and paid a fee to get deferral from deportation and a work permit.
“President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be shocking if it weren’t so predictable from a president who has routinely demonized immigrants, elevated politics above principles, and catered to the most extreme voices in his party,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the House Democratic Caucus Chairman, said. “Given that today’s action comes after President Trump repeatedly claimed he wanted to help these young people, all Americans should realize how empty his promises are when compared to the reality of his political interests. It’s absurd to think that our nation’s interests are served by ending this program and forcing these individuals back into the shadows. Without a doubt, this action is both heartless and senseless.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman vowed they would sue, saying the president’s action would upend the lives of roughly 42,000 New Yorkers who are DACA recipients and who pay more than $140 million in state and local taxes..
“It will rip families apart, sow havoc in our communities and force innocent people — our neighbors, our friends, and our relatives — to live in fear,” Cuomo said.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called the president’s action an affront to who we are as Americans.
“He is needlessly targeting children who know no other country as home than America,” she said. “This does not make our communities safer or our economy stronger. In fact, it does just the opposite.”
Data from the Center for American Progress shows that ending DACA would result in the loss of more than $460 billion from the national GDP over the next decade, and more than $2.5 billion a year in New York State.
“Repealing DACA is not only immoral, but it’s economic suicide,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “DACA not only provides hope and opportunity, it boosts our economy and creates jobs. We cannot afford to lose our Dreamers to appease political rhetoric. This is a sad, tragic day for America.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr