An array of Bay Area elected officials and leaders deplored President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to end a program allowing young undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
At the same time, the officials called on Congress to revive the program by enacting it into law. Some also promised to participate in lawsuits to challenge the Trump administration’s action.
The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was established in 2012 through an executive order by President Barack Obama. It covers approximately 800,000 young people, sometimes known as Dreamers, who arrived in the U.S. as children.
California is home to about 223,000 of the Dreamers.
In an action announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump rescinded Obama’s order today, but allowed for what Sessions called an “orderly, lawful wind-down” of the program. He and Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said Congress could enact a program through legislation if it wishes to do so.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, called the president’s action “a cruel betrayal” of the young immigrants and said it undermines our nation’s values:
“The consequences of this decision will be devastating. It will split up families, force young people back to countries they never knew, and cost our economy billions of dollars. It is heartless.”
Harris urged members of Congress to “roll up our sleeves and stand with these young people” by enacting a bipartisan law to resume the program.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said:
“Congressional action is now the only way to guarantee that DACA recipients are shielded from deportation, and it must be our top priority.”
Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, also called on Congress to step in to enact the program into law.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said the Dreamers are “hard-working individuals and diligent students” who have known only America as their home:
“San Francisco will always remain a sanctuary city — a beacon of hope and a place where we embrace all our residents, regardless of their immigration status.”
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he will seek to challenge the Trump administration’s actions in court, after consulting with the City Council and city attorney:
“To San Jose’s tens of thousands of Dreamers, we reiterate: ‘We’ve got your back.”
The San Jose mayor said the Trump administration’s “punting the issue to Congress, without any affirmative leadership to enact a legislative solution, amounts to a cowardly cop-out.” San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said, “We must act immediately to provide both legal and community assistance to those who are most at risk of losing their legal status to remain in our country.”
University of California President Janet Napolitano said:
“I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s decision to effectively end the DACA program. … I call upon the U.S. Congress to immediately pass bipartisan legislation that would provide a permanent solution for these young people.”
Thousands of “Dreamers” attend or have graduated from UC, she said:
“The university and the state of California stand together in our belief that students should be admitted to UC and other institutions of higher education based on their records of achievement and without regard to their immigration status.”
In the winding-down announced by the Homeland Security Department, DACA recipients will be allowed to retain their deferred action period and work authorization documents until they expire, within two years. Renewals applied for by Oct. 5 will be considered.
Actions planned later Tuesday by local immigrant rights groups include a 5 p.m. rally at the Federal Building on Seventh Street in San Francisco. Santa Clara County officials held a news conference earlier this morning and Lee, San Francisco’s mayor, is planning one for Tuesday afternoon.