U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is coming to an end and it is up to Congress to come up with a replacement program.
The Trump administration’s action was forced by 10 attorneys general and one governor who threatened to sue over the program if it wasn’t ended by Sept. 5. Among the AGs involved? Idaho’s Lawrence Wasden. And the lone governor? Our Gov. Butch Otter.
Otter and Wasden argued the program was a presidential overreach and that the matter belongs with Congress. President Donald Trump on Tuesday made similar comments.
On Wednesday, Organize Idaho announced it is holding a “Defend Idaho Dreamers” rally at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Idaho Capitol.
“In June of 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, social security numbers, and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36,” Trump said in a statement following Sessions’ announcement of the program’s end.
“I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to finally address all of these issues in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first. ... It is now time for Congress to act.”
The Department of Homeland Security in a Tuesday memo outlined the path forward for DACA and also tasking Congress with determining what succeeds it.
Effective immediately, Homeland Security will no longer accept new DACA applications. It will until Oct. 5 accept renewal applications from current recipients whose benefits expire before March 5, 2018.
Idaho had at least 3,132 DACA recipients as of March 2017, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A survey by the Center for American Progress, National Immigration Law Center and others estimated 2,700 of them were employed. CAR, a progressive think tank, believes losing those DACA workers could cost Idaho’s economy about $159.5 million annually.
Idaho ranked first among states in the percentage of undocumented immigrants who could avoid deportation under President Obama’s executive action on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and related moves on pathways to citizenship — more than 60 percent, according to Pew. That’s because such a high percentage of Idaho’s undocumented population, nearly 9 out of 10, is Mexican. That population qualifies at a higher rate based on DACA’s criteria regarding longevity and family ties.
DACA recipients are not eligible for federal health care and other federal public assistance programs, including Affordable Care Act programs, Medicaid (except for emergency services), food stamps, welfare and public housing. Upon working and paying taxes for ten years, they are eligible for social security and Medicare upon reaching retirement age, according to the National Immigration Law Center.
Here are statements provided on Tuesday from some of Idaho’s political and community leaders on the latest DACA action:
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo: “The appropriate treatment of children brought to the United States illegally at a young age is one of the key issues we must deal with in immigration reform legislation. However, the DACA program was created unconstitutionally without the public accountability and deliberation provided by an act of Congress. There is urgent need for Congress to enact rational, comprehensive immigration policy. To ensure widespread confidence and long-term sustainability, reforms must be done through a public process that includes the American people, Congress, and the Administration. Today’s announcement by the Administration returns the decision-making for immigration policy, including the DACA program, to the people’s representatives in Congress for action.”
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch: “President Obama’s creation of the DACA program was a unilateral attempt by the president to create a law directly contrary to existing law. Of course, a president can’t unilaterally create laws and the federal government is about to be sued by the States to halt the program. There’s no question that our immigration laws need to be addressed, including the issue of children being brought to the U.S. illegally, but those reforms must go through the appropriate legislative process.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson: “While I did not agree with the previous Administration’s overreach when developing the DACA program, I also believe we need to be realistic about how we treat these individuals that were unknowingly brought into this country. This issue, along with many others in our immigration system, needs to be addressed with a permanent legislative solution. I look forward to working with the my colleagues and the Administration to find a comprehensive solution for this situation, which should also include strong measures to secure our borders, an overhaul of our guest worker programs and address the issue of legal status for those who are working and living in our local communities.”
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador: “I have consistently opposed DACA because it’s an unconstitutional program that undermines the rule of law,” said Rep. Labrador. “President Obama did not have the authority to create DACA; only Congress could establish such a program. I applaud President Trump for respecting the Constitution and keeping a campaign promise. Through his action today, President Trump is creating leverage for larger immigration reform, which should include border wall funding and stronger interior enforcement. As Chairman of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, I will continue working with my colleagues and the Administration on fixing all aspects of our broken immigration system.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter: “I appreciate the Attorney General’s recognition of the constitutional problems with the Obama administration’s executive action. I also support the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to phase out the DACA program in a way that will minimize the impact on current DACA beneficiaries. In the meantime, I call on Congress to redouble its efforts to restore the effectiveness of and public confidence in our nation’s immigration system.”
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden: “I’ve long held that DACA was created through an unconstitutional executive order because — under the Constitution — the responsibility of creating immigration policy falls squarely on Congress. However, the root of this entire issue is Congress’s failure to pass a law that takes into account the needs of everyday families, especially those families whose ties cross international borders. This announcement from the administration paves the way for our federal lawmakers to finally step up and deal with this very important issue once and for all.”
Boise State President Bob Kustra: “Boise State University attracts and embraces the best students, scholars, researchers and employees from all over the world — and that has included those who were brought to this country as children by their parents and have been protected from unreasonable deportation through the DACA program.
“Boise State will always stand as a beacon of greater cultural understanding through education and be a place of respect for others. As this change is debated in Washington, D.C., I want our students who may be affected by the potential elimination of this program to know that you will have the full support of our faculty, staff and administration, and that I personally am joining university leaders from around the country to appeal to Congress to create a pathway to citizenship for those protected by DACA today.”
Boise State said it knows of at least two dozen DACA students attending the university.
ACLU of Idaho Director Leo Morales: “The President failed in taking moral leadership to protect the lives of nearly 800,000 young aspiring Americans living in the United States under DACA status. DACA served as the lifeline for immigrants who came here as children seeking a better future, and now the threat of deportation hangs over their heads.
“Actual lives of Idahoans have been put in jeopardy. Immigrants are critical to the vibrancy of Idaho’s culture and economy, and our success as a nation is bound to our common American experience as a nation of immigrants. ... Our Idaho delegation needs to step up and join other members of Congress to resolve this issue once and for all and bring about permanent security and stability to the lives of DACA recipients and their loved ones.”
Idaho Immigration Reform Coalition member and El Centro Inc. President David Calhoon: “Idaho’s foreign-born population may not be the largest in the nation, but it does not make our immigrants or the children of immigrants any less important to our success. They should have the same worth and the same opportunity here in Idaho, and their future should be just as bright as any native-born individual. We must protect their status as they are forever welcome in our state.”
Idaho Charter School Network: “Latinos are the fastest-growing population in Idaho K-12 enrollment. Because of the strength and demands of Gem State agriculture we rank high among states in the percentage of undocumented children who could face deportation as a result of the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“All Idaho children deserve a future where studying hard, playing by the rules and following their dreams is supported and protected. We join the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and state charter school advocates across the country in supporting the DREAM Act of 2017. We encourage Congress to move on this legislation quickly so as to ensure all Idaho families and their children have equal access to the American Dream.”
Also on Tuesday, former President Barack Obama posted to his Facebook page: “Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.
“And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future.”
The Statesman has reached out to U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson for comment.
More about DACA
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it is no longer accepting new DACA applications. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, individuals who were seeking to obtain DACA status prior to Tuesday had to meet the following criteria:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.