By Len Patel
Asian American civil rights organizations and political leaders were swift in condemning President Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced this morning that no new DACA applicants will be processed beginning tomorrow and the program will be eliminated by March of 2018. He put Congress on notice that it needed to come up with a long term solution in six months.
“Since 2012, nearly 800,000 young people who immigrated to this country have had the opportunity to go to school, gain employment, and continue on with their lives minus the fear of deportation,” said Rep Ro Khanna (D-CA). “Today the Trump Administration once again shows it has no dignity for our friends, neighbors and colleagues. We must safeguard the livelihood of DREAMers and provide these inspiring young people and their courageous parents a pathway to citizenship.”
One proposal being floated would be for Republicans to support DACA in exchange for Democrats to support funding for the wall across Mexico. That was immediately denounced as a non-starter by Democrats.
“After our government had asked these young people to come forward and put their trust in the government, it is inhumane for our government to strip these young people of the protections DACA has provided,” said Asian Americans Advancing Justice in a joint statement of its five affiliates. “By phasing out DACA, this administration has failed to show moral leadership.”
Candidate Trump said during the campaign he would do away with the program, but after being elected backed away from his earlier statements. In more recent weeks, he said any decision he would make would “have heart.”
Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA, according to South Asian Americans Leading Together.
“Ending DACA is the latest evidence of this administration’s utter lack of commitment to our nation’s founding values of equality and fairness,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “Our current patchwork of immigration policies and programs is broken, and we demand Congress does its job to craft a commonsense immigration process that creates a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans.”
Many analysts predict the final outcome will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court either in this term or next. In the meantime, DACA recipients and those eligible will likely live with uncertainty and even fear.
“DACA recipients have lived in fear since last November when a man with an anti-immigrant, racist agenda was elected as president,” said the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). “Despite false promises earlier this summer that Dreamers would continue to be protected, Trump has ended one of the most important immigration policies for our communities. We have heard first-hand accounts of how DACA has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, we have the data to show how beneficial this policy has been for our economy, and he still chose to end it.”
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