A call by hundreds of corporate leaders, including a number of retailers, to keep an immigration policy allowing a level of citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children has gone ignored by the Trump administration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a piece of President Obama-era legislation enacted in 2012 to give undocumented immigrants brought to America as children a chance to work, attend school and pay taxes without threat of deportation, will be rescinded.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a memo within an hour of Sessions’ statement that the wind-down process for DACA would begin “immediately.”
Hundreds of protesters had gathered outside the White House during Sessions’ comments and protestors gathered in New York at Trump Tower as well.
The rollback comes after Diane von Furstenberg, eBay chief executive officer Devin Wenig, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple ceo Tim Cook, Gap cofounder Doris Fisher and its ceo Art Peck, Levi Strauss & Co. ceo Chip Bergh and a number of other fashion and retail leaders signed a letter to Trump and House leaders urging the continuation of DACA.
“All DACA recipients grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes,” the letter says.
Steven Kolb, president and ceo of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, took that sentiment one step further, saying after Sessions’ announcement that “our American fashion industry was built by and thrives because of immigrants.”
“The President’s decision to end DACA not only hurts the lives of 800,000 impressive young people, but impedes our industry from creating even more U.S. jobs,” Kolb added. “Congress must act with urgency to pass the bipartisan Dream Act. Hundreds of thousands of lives and our economy depend on it.”
The Dream Act, officially the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, is legislation that would create a path for immigrants brought to America in their youth to obtain citizenship. A version of the act was first introduced to Congress in 2001 and it was amended and reintroduced annually from 2009 to 2012.
Kenya Wiley, a signatory of the letter and the founder and ceo of the Fashion Innovation Alliance, said Tuesday that her organization is “very disappointed” in Trump’s decision and noted that fashion and tech companies, largely based in New York and California, will be affected by the reversal.
She pointed out that New York has 42,000 DACA recipients and California has an estimated 200,000 and also called for legislators to pass the Dream Act.
The initial letter specified that DACA participants, or “Dreamers” as they’ve come to be known, total more than 780,000 young people who collectively contribute $460.3 billion to the national gross domestic product and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare through income taxes.
Immigrants participating in DACA, which protects them from deportation on a rolling two-year basis, are between the ages of 15 and 36.
In an April interview with the Associated Press, Trump said the policy of his administration was to allow Dreamers to stay in America and that “the Dreamers should rest easy.”
Neither Trump nor Sessions mentioned the purpose of DACA or what the program offers to participants or the country in their separate explanations for why it’s being rescinded. Instead, they both referred to the program as “executive amnesty” deployed by Obama without Congressional approval, that has created an “humanitarian crisis” at southern borders and “denied jobs” to Americans.
“Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach,” Sessions said.
In response to the decision, former President Barack Obama wrote on Facebook that the move targets young people who “have done nothing wrong.”
“It is self-defeating — because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military and otherwise contribute to the country we love,” he continued. “And it is cruel.”
As for who will be subject to deportation, Trump allowed that his administration is “focused on criminals, security threats, recent border-crossers, visa overstays and repeat violators.”
“I have advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang,” he said.
He added that no new DACA applications will be accepted, but existing permits will be honored until their original expiration.
“Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act,” Trump said.
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