The White House announced Tuesday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will come to an end.
The policy started under President Barack Obama in 2012 and protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. It's estimated the decision could affect hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" who are registered under the program.
Under the plan announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday morning, the Trump Administration will stop considering new applications for the DACA program dated after September 5, 2017.
"To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here," Sessions said. "It's just that simple. That would be an open borders policy and the American people have rightly rejected that. Therefore, the nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we admit each year and that means all cannot be accepted. This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them."
The White House says the program will be phased out, in part, to allow Congress six months to pass any legislation that could save the program.
On Tuesday afternoon, ''Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success" held a rally outside of Representative Salud Carbajal's San Luis Obispo office.
"We want Congress to pass legislation to end the immigration crisis in this country, not by acting as if we don't have millions of undocumented people, not by suggesting people self-deport, but rather by recognizing the incredible value that members of the undocumented community bring to us economically and socially," said Jane Lehr, Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success.
Demonstrators rally outside Rep. Salud Carbajal's San Luis Obispo office against changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (KSBY photo)
"Around the country and particularly in our community we are going to lose some teachers in the classroom who are 'DACA-mented' teachers. We are also going to have children going back to school worried about their family members and siblings, concerned they aren't going to be able to go to college and get jobs to continue to support our community, so we really need Congress to act now," said Briana Ronan, Cal Poly professor.
In a statement, Carbajal said, "We cannot afford to abandon DACA recipients, who have lived in America all their lives and contribute to this country in many ways. Ending this program undermines our economic growth and competitiveness, costing our economy $490 billion in lost GDP over the next decade in addition to losing potential innovation and entrepreneurship."
A young demonstrator holds a sign at a pro-DACA rally in San Luis Obispo. (KSBY photo)
If Congress doesn't come up with a solution, the decision could affect about 800,000 "Dreamers" who are allowed to work and attend school through a DACA permit.
Sessions says the DACA program was an executive overreach that would not have held up against legal challenges and that 10 states threatened to file a lawsuit if the program wasn't ended.
"We are people of compassion and we are people of law, but there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering," Sessions said.
Anyone who is a part of the DACA program now and has a permit set to expire before March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal.
"The compassionate thing to do is end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws to do by the process set forth by our founders," Sessions added.
Full statement from Rep. Salud Carbajal:
"DACA has given nearly 800,000 young people a shot at the American Dream, allowing them to come forward, live, work, and learn in the United States legally and without fear of deportation. This includes the over 9,000 students, entrepreneurs, and military members eligible for the program on the Central Coast. I was once a young immigrant to this nation, which has since given me the opportunity to work hard, raise my family, and serve my country both in the military and in Congress. Terminating DACA and stripping DREAMers of that hope and opportunity is unconscionable and incompatible with our American values.
We cannot afford to abandon DACA recipients, who have lived in America all their lives and contribute to this country in many ways. Ending this program undermines our economic growth and competitiveness, costing our economy $490 billion in lost GDP over the next decade in addition to losing potential innovation and entrepreneurship.
Congress must take immediate action to protect DREAMers before the program is set to expire. I am proud to co-sponsor the DREAM Act, to permanently codify DACA, and I urge my colleagues in the Majority to stand up for DREAMers by immediately bringing this legislation to the Floor for a vote."
Full statement from San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon:
"As a member of this community, and as the Mayor of San Luis Obispo I will do everything in my power to insure that those included under DACA will be protected, respected, and promises to them upheld. The people who were brought to this country by their parents in the hopes of having a better life have become a part of us, and a part of the fabric of our society. They are a vital part of our community, we are better because of them, and we will not stand by while promises are broken. Many of our local students are Dreamers and they perfectly represent what is great about this country and personify what the American Dream is meant to be. The actions being taken by the Federal Government are not only morally bankrupt but economically short sighted to take away opportunities and freedom for these young people who are building their own lives while greatly contributing to our community."
Full statement from Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong:
"Earlier today U. S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the rescission of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We are deeply disappointed by this action and pledge our commitment to urge Congress to work toward a solution that will serve our DACA students and employees.
We recognize that the move to rescind DACA has activated one of the greatest fears "Dreamers" have long-held. Many Dreamers were brought to the United States when they were children and, therefore, do not know any other country. When DACA was implemented, Dreamers openly divulged their status in exchange for an opportunity to work toward legal citizenship. They have contributed greatly to this country and represent a massive resource of talent. While we can't begin to understand the emotions and impact this action has on Dreamers, our hearts go out to them and we stand with them in our extreme disappointment.
We at Cal Poly, along with the California State University (CSU) system, remain committed to DACA students, faculty and staff (see letter from CSU Chancellor Timothy White.) Cal Poly has demonstrated its commitment to DACA and undocumented students by establishing a DREAM Center and hiring a full-time coordinator. In addition, an Undocumented Student Ally Working Group has been identifying student needs and providing appropriate support. Either of these groups can provide information and assistance as needed.
We at Cal Poly stand in support of our undocumented students, faculty and staff. Cal Poly leadership will continue to ensure that the university remains a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for every member of our campus community. In addition, our Student Affairs staff and our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are ready to be of assistance to those who may have questions or need counseling to address their feelings during this difficult time.
We will continue to report information and provide resources as they become available over the next few months. In addition, the CSU site will be updated regularly and includes information on Dreamers' rights, the implications of the DACA repeal and the steps that Dreamers can take to complete their education.
We at Cal Poly remain absolutely committed to our DACA students, faculty and staff who make our university a rich and vibrant community. We will do everything in our power to urge Congress to offer a workable solution."
Full statement from Santa Barbara City College President Anthony E. Beebe:
"I am saddened this morning that the President of the United States is not honoring the executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). As a DACA student, you should know that none of this is of your making. It is not your fault, and you are the innocent one in all of this. You were brought to this country as a child and you did not have a choice in the matter. You have since been through considerable and unnecessary emotional distress, and we know this has not been easy for you. You are here at Santa Barbara City College because you want to better yourselves and contribute to the only country and community that you know -- this country and this community.
As the Chancellor of the California Community College system said in a message, "Ending DACA is a heartless and senseless decision that goes against American ideals and basic human decency. Those who are affected by this decision were brought to this country as children and are pursuing an education and making contributions to their communities. Some have served in the armed forces defending this country. In California, we don't put dreams -- or Dreamers -- on hold. The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn. We will do all within our power to assist students affected by this decision, and we will advocate tirelessly in Congress for a permanent resolution to this issue."
Santa Barbara City College supports the Chancellor's statement! I know I speak for the college trustees, faculty, staff, and administrators in telling you that we are united in support of you and that together, we will get through this. You should know that Barbara City College:
As more information becomes available, we will ensure that our students and campus community are informed and supported."
Full statement from Allan Hancock College President Kevin G. Walthers Ph.D.:
"As many of you know, earlier today the Trump administration announced a decision to end the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, with an effective date in six months. In making this statement, the administration called on Congress to address an issue that has lingered for far too long. We are hopeful that men and women of good faith will rally to provide a safe space for our friends, neighbors and colleagues who came to the United States as children and have grasped onto the American spirit that values education and hard work. It seems, at least to me, antithetical to our nation's values to hold children responsible for decisions and actions made by their parents.
Allan Hancock College stands by its commitment to all students, and our values of inclusion, diversity, unity, open discussion and success. We remain dedicated to maintaining an environment of mutual respect where students feel empowered to achieve their goals, to go anywhere, without fear or anxiety. Hancock is comprised of diverse populations and we proudly recognize their contributions not only to our college and local community, but also to the entire Central Coast, our state and our nation.
Please know that the resolution signed by the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees on February 15, 2017 remains intact. Take a moment to read it and please share with your students. You can also share with your students or colleagues that AHC faculty have joined with faculty from Cal Poly and Cuesta to create the Central Coast Coalition for Undocumented Student Success. For more information on what we are already doing in relation to supporting our students, you can contact Juanita Tuan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Hancock's AB540/Dream Act Announcements and Events page.
It is extremely important that everyone - regardless of immigration status - feels safe, supported and valued at Hancock. Today, as we walk around our campus, engage with students and our colleagues and begin another week of studies, I encourage all of us to take just a moment to help extend that thought of reassurance and validity. Our counselors are available to assist with helping students understand how today's events will impact them individually.
In closing, let me share with you the statement that California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley issued this morning:
"Ending DACA is a heartless and senseless decision that goes against American ideals and basic human decency. Those who are affected by this decision were brought to this country as children and are pursuing an education and making contributions their communities. Some have served in the armed forces defending this country. In California, we don't put dreams - or Dreamers - on hold. The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn. We will do all within our power to assist students affected by this decision, and we will advocate tirelessly in Congress for a permanent resolution to this issue."
There are additional resources available for undocumented students on the chancellor's website. As always, our faculty, staff and administrative team are ready to provide support for individual students, clubs or classes that want to address this critical issue."
Full statement from Cuesta College Vice President of Student Services Dr. Mark Sanchez:
"The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protects 800,000 immigrant youth from deportation and gives them freedom to work and live life. They are in school, and working hard. They are our friends, our classmates, our co-workers and neighbors.
They are Cuesta College students.
DACA recipients were brought to the U.S. as children, attended U.S. high schools, and have no criminal record. Their DACA deferral from deportation has allowed them to attend college and legally hold a job in the U.S.
Cuesta College denounces President Trump's decision to end the DACA program.
In the words of the California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, 'ending DACA is a heartless and senseless decision that goes against American ideals and basic human decency. In California, we don't put dreams - or Dreamers - on hold. The California Community Colleges remain committed to serving all students, regardless of immigration status and to providing safe and welcoming environments in which to learn. We will do all within our power to assist students affected by this decision.'
Cuesta College remains an inclusive institution committed to creating a welcoming and supportive classroom and campus environment. We will continue to support all of our students to achieve their dreams and honor their diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Please visit the Cuesta College Multicultural and Diversity Resources web page for more information."