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'These Kids Are Our Kids Too'

Utah leaders react to proposed DACA repeal.


Pro DACA protesters gather outside Trump Tower on Tuesday, Sept. 5. - RHODODENDRITES VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Rhododendrites via Wikimedia Commons
  • Pro DACA protesters gather outside Trump Tower on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

In his uttered remarks and online postings, President Donald Trump has pointed to a domestic policy that is reinforced with a hardline anti-immigration backbone.

Whether that’s a pledge to commission a defensive wall along the entire southern border, his allegation that Mexico was exporting rapists and murderers to the U.S., or an executive order banning entry from citizens of select countries—the president has employed a markedly divisive tone.

The administration’s latest move to end Deferred Action for Child Arrivals—an Obama-implemented policy that protects about 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation, who came to the U.S. as children and often have minimal connection to their country of origin—conforms to the president’s prior words and actions.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced the discontinuation of DACA and urged Congress to pass immigration legislation that would address the concerns of so-called Dreamers.

After receiving some criticism, Trump tweeted on Thursday that DACA recipients need not panic while they wait for legislation to be drafted and passed.

“For all of those (DACA) that are concerned about your status during the 6 month period, you have nothing to worry about—No action!” he wrote.

But long-standing Latin American activist Richard “Archie” Archuleta says fear in the local community is running rampant. “People are crying,” he says. “People are really afraid and upset and worried.”

It’s no wonder then that the assurance of a president who is prone to capricious Twitter surprises hasn’t allayed fears that Dreamers might be sent back to a birthright land that is in all other ways foreign.

“It would be like taking a shipwrecked sailor, and putting them on a deserted island that has no water in a completely strange environment,” Archuleta says.

Utah leaders and activists chimed in as DACA news broke. The following compilation provides a mixture of those responses:

Gov. Gary Herbert:

“With the repeal of DACA, Congress must act quickly, humanely, and with certainty to fix our broken immigration system.”

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah:

“While well intentioned, the way the Obama administration went about enacting DACA was unconstitutional. Authority to alter immigration law clearly only lies within the purview of Congress. Nonetheless, I believe that we must protect those individuals who came to this country as children. I’m a cosponsor of two pieces of legislation that will continue to protect children of undocumented immigrants. These include the BRIDGE Act and the ENLIST Act. These bills bar the removal of individuals who were brought here under the age of 15 that are currently pursuing education, have recently graduated, or are serving in the armed forces. I look forward to Congress authorizing a long-term, legislative solution to this important and pressing problem.”

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah:

"As a child of immigrant parents, I am sensitive to the position in which young, undocumented immigrants find themselves. From the beginning, Congress should have taken the lead in crafting a solution to this issue. No one person should unilaterally determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of others. The President’s decision today will allow Congress to craft policy that works for all. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming months on a solution consistent with the principles that Utahns hold dear."

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah:

“DACA was an illegal abuse of executive power, and it’s important to reaffirm that the president cannot unilaterally rewrite the law. Today’s decision puts the ball in Congress’ court to address the problem of the approximately three quarter million DACA participants, who originally came to the country as children. A balance between compassion and deterring future illegal immigration can be found.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, (leading up to the announcement):

“I’ve urged the President not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution. Like the President, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress.

“Over the coming months, I’ll be working closely with my colleagues in Congress and with the administration to pass meaningful immigration reform that will secure our borders, provide a workable path forward for the Dreamer population, and ensure that employers have access to the high-skilled workers they need to succeed in our technology-driven economy.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (condensed):

“It is unconscionable to deport a young person who came to this country as a child or even infant without any choice of their own. These kids are our kids too. They grew up next door to you and me, played on the little league teams we coached, went to school with our children, worked in local businesses, and by and large, they are leading productive lives contributing to our economy and the strength of America.

“These children grew up believing they are American and so many of them have lived lives of which America can be proud. Rather than deporting those in whom America has already invested a great deal of resources, I urge Congress to pass legislation that provides a workable path forward so these young people can prove their ongoing commitment to this country and benefit all of us with their talents and skills. This can be done as we strengthen borders, security, and the economic viability of America.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski:

“As its name suggests, DACA has protected the dreams of thousands of young people in Salt Lake City. These DREAMers improve our community, strengthen our economy, and most importantly enrich our local and national experience. Preserving DACA means defending the best of what we are as Americans, and I urge the Administration to keep this dream alive.”

Mexico Consulate of Utah:

“Mexico deeply regrets the decision taken by the U.S. administration to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in (DACA). The beneficiaries of the DACA program (known as ‘Dreamers’) are men and women who came to the United States in their childhood, who have lived a good part of their lives in that country, and who contribute in a very significant way to the economy and society of this country. The completion of the program puts its beneficiaries in greater uncertainty about their migratory status and future.

“The Mexican government will maintain a continuous dialogue, both with Congress and with the U.S. government, to promote legislation that grants a permanent immigration status to DACA beneficiaries.

“The Mexican government will maintain a continuous dialogue, both with Congress and with the

US government, to promote legislation that grants a permanent immigration status to DACA

beneficiaries. This with full respect for the American legal framework and in accordance with

relevant diplomatic forms.”

John Mejia, ACLU of Utah legal director:

“Five years ago, the federal government made a deal with immigrant youth: As long as you come forward, register, and pass a criminal background check you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people came out of the shadows and accepted the government’s offer in good faith and worked hard to succeed. Today, the government and President Trump went back on their word, through the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families into disarray, and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of families, workplaces and communities across America. Thousands of these youth have used their DACA status to give back to our country in innumerable ways: they are our doctors, soldiers and students. These are our neighbors, family and friends.

Utah legislators Sen. Luz Escamilla, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Rep. Angela Romero and Rep. Mark Wheatley in an open letter to Utah’s Congressional Delegation:

“We call upon you, as elected federal representatives of this state, to take immediate action and protect the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). These young men and women—known as ‘Dreamer’s—were brought to this country as children. Many of them know no other home but this country. They grew up here, they’ve gone to school here, many have served our nation in the military, and they deserve a chance to build lives in this great nation; to do what so many immigrants have done throughout our history: to make America even greater.

“Before taking office, President Trump said that Dreamers should not worry and that he would deal with DACA with a ‘big heart.’ As recently as this past Friday, when asked if Dreamers should be worried, he said, ‘We love the Dreamers. We love everybody … we think the DREAMERs are terrific.’ Yet, we now know that he has decided to terminate DACA. If this is how he treats Americans he thinks are ‘terrific,’ we’d hate to see how he treats Americans he dislikes.

“Ending DACA will send back to the shadows close to one million exemplary individuals who trusted the government, played by the rules, pay their taxes and contribute to our society. The President’s cruel and irresponsible actions will sow chaos in our communities, on college campuses, in workplaces, and, most of all, in the homes of Dreamers who are Americans in every way but a piece of paper.

“We remind you that these Americans will lose their legal right to work and go to school the moment DACA ends, and they will be at immediate risk for deportation. The impact on the nation’s economy would be staggering, with a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.

“We add our voices to those of business leaders and elected officials from across the nation and across party lines to call upon you to show leadership where the President has failed to do so. Congress must pass either the bipartisan DREAM Act, the BRIDGE Act (H. R. 496), or similar legislation that provides these young people raised in this country the permanent protection and stability that they deserve. We strongly implore you to sign on as co-sponsors and assure that this legislation passes with all due haste.”

Former 3rd Congressional District Rep. Jason Chaffetz via Twitter in response to Microsoft’s stance on Dreamer employees:

“Who do you think you are? That's not the way a nation of laws works.”