President Donald Trump on Tuesday fulfilled a campaign pledge to end DACA’s amnesty for illegal immigrants, but politicians in Vermont rushed to defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
While Vermont leaders blasted the development, Trump says rescinding DACA is an opportunity to get immigration reform done legally.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws. The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws,” the president said in a statement.
“We are facing the symptom of a larger problem, illegal immigration, along with the many other chronic immigration problems Washington has left unsolved,” he added.
Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican and staunch critic of the president, sided with Vermont’s most ardent left-wing politicians on the issue.
“It’s unfortunate the President has chosen to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which now leaves it in the hands of Congress for legislative action. The young people who will be affected have known no other home than the U.S., and DACA has given many of them important academic opportunities that further their ability to contribute to our communities, and our nation,” Scott said in a statement.
Those currently benefiting from DACA can continue to do so for a limited time, in some cases until 2019. There will also be a six-month window for Congress to revisit the program, which started as an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012.
DACA’s aim, which is to give temporary amnesty to illegal immigrants who arrive to the country as minors, applies to about 800,000 illegals. To be included in DACA, an immigrant must be between the ages of 15 and 31 as of June 15, 2012. The current average age of DACA immigrants is 25 years old.
Kris Kobach, the secretary of state for Kansas and a top immigration adviser to the president, said the move has been a long time coming.
“DACA violates the U.S. Constitution in two different ways, and it also violates three different federal statutes,” he said in an interview with Fox News. “It’s not just my opinion — you have had lower federal courts already say that. It’s illegal and it should end now.”
He said the U.S. job market could immediately benefit by ending the amnesty program.
“It’s a really tough job market right now for U.S. citizens out there. [For] young people who are coming out of high school right now, unemployment is 17 percent. Underemployment, where they are working part time when they would like to be working full time, is 31 percent, and for college graduates underemployment is 12 percent. … Why would you want to bring in 1.7 million young illegal aliens to compete against them?” Kobach said.
Trump’s move may also make the nation safer. Data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says that more than 2,000 DACA immigrants had their status revoked due to criminal activity, including 622 just this year.
“The deferred action terminations were due to one or more of the following: a felony criminal conviction; a significant misdemeanor conviction; multiple misdemeanor convictions; gang affiliation; or arrest of any crime in which there is deemed to be a public safety concern,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Nevertheless, Vermont’s top Democrats rushed to defend amnesty and take political shots at Trump.
“Trump’s decision on DACA is the ugliest and most cruel decision ever made by a president of the U.S. in the modern history of this country,” tweeted U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch got in on the digs at Trump.
“This is the height of cruelty, to threaten good, law-abiding Americans where they’ve served in this country, in the military, on the Houston Fire Department and in Vermont,” he said. “We have 800,000 individuals who are DACA-identified, and they’re just like you and me.”
Attorney General TJ Donovan agreed.
“Under the DACA program, they were promised they could stay in this country to work, study, and be productive members of our communities,” he wrote in a statement. “Our country has an obligation to honor this promise. By giving DREAMers a chance to live legally in the country they call home, we fulfill the promise of America — the opportunity for a better life for all who come to this country.”
The issue now rests with Congress, which has six months to craft legislation to grant amnesty to DACA immigrants.
Kobach said it’s not likely Congress will make DACA the law of the land.
“Well, the Dream Act amnesty, which is why these people are called ‘dreamers,’ has been in front of Congress more than two dozen times since 2001 and it has failed each time. I think given that track record it is likely to fail again.”