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Trump scraps program protecting young undocumented immigrants

Free Press staff, wire reports | 9/7/2017, 9:26 p.m.
President Trump on Tuesday scrapped an Obama era program that protects from deportation immigrants brought illegally into the United States ...
Students at Virginia Commonwealth University and their allies hold a rally Wednesday seeking continued university support for DACA students. VCU President Michael Rao pledged his support for the program and to keep Dreamers at the university.

Virginia’s U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, criticized the president’s action, saying it would leave young people in limbo.

“President Trump has made a heartless decision to target hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own, breaking his promise that these ‘incredible kids’ could ‘rest easy,’ and putting them at risk for being torn away from their families,” said Sen. Kaine, who ran last November for vice president on the Democratic ticket with Mr. Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

“In Virginia, 12,000 of these Dreamers are neighbors, friends and students who just want the opportunity to contribute to their communities and our economy. Today’s action will force DACA recipients back into the shadows and put them in danger of being deported from the only home they’ve ever known. Congress should immediately pass the bipartisan DREAM Act to protect these kids and then find an agreement on long-overdue, comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, announced that the state is part of a coalition of 16 planning to file suit in the coming days to defend Dreamers from the DACA termination.

“There is no upside to ending DACA,” Mr. Herring stated. “Only downside. It will hurt Virginia’s economy and make our communities less safe. It will needlessly tear families apart, burden social services and turn our back on promising, talented young people who want our country to succeed. I’m hopeful that Congress will do the right thing and fix this problem right away. But if they do not, we’ll be ready to defend Virginia Dreamers in court.”

Nearly 800,000 people stepped forward, admitted their illegal immigrant status and provided personal information to the government to apply for the DACA program. They now face the prospect of being deported starting in March. Dreamers are a fraction of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

“The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

But White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, “It’s not cold hearted for the president to uphold the law.”

President Trump said DACA recipients would not be deportation priorities unless they are criminals or gang members.

Ending DACA was the latest action by President Trump sure to alienate Latino Americans, a growing segment of the U.S. population and an increasingly important voting bloc. Most of the immigrants protected by DACA came from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The Mexican government said it “profoundly laments” President Trump’s decision to end DACA and pledged to strengthen efforts to guarantee consular protections for affected Mexican citizens.

The Homeland Security Department will provide a limited window — until Oct. 5 — for some DACA recipients whose work permits expire before March 5 to apply to renew those permits. In addition, the department will adjudicate any new DACA requests, or renewal requests, accepted as of Tuesday. That would mean that some beneficiaries of DACA could work legally in the country through 2019.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, called on lawmakers to find a long-term solution for the young people affected by the reversal of the program. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Congress “will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”