The White House announced on Tuesday morning that President Donald Trump plans end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 790,000 people who were brought the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country while they work or attend school.
Trump’s decision affects roughly 5,000 people in Philly who are eligible for the Obama-era program, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The Washington, D.C.-based think tank reports that 21,000 people are eligible for DACA statewide. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 5,900 people are currently utilizing the program in Pa.
During a press briefing today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Congress will stop renewing work permits for program recipients – often called “Dreamers” – in six months. Congress has until then to come up with a potential replacement for the program, Sessions said.
The decision has spurred backlash from immigrants rights groups, business leaders (like Apple CEO Tim Cook) and politicians around the country. In Philly, a sanctuary city known for its progressive immigration stance, officials and community leaders have spoken out against plans to end DACA.
Hundreds of protesters, including Democratic Philly District Attorney candidate Larry Krasner and City Councilwoman Helen Gym, gathered outside the Department of Justice building in Old City this morning in support of the program.
Mayor Jim Kenney issued the following statement on Trump’s decision:
“Ending the DACA program is not only cruel, it is detrimental to our health as a nation and inherently un-American. Those who have benefitted from the DACA program came here with their parents searching for a better life and more opportunities. They escaped violence, natural disasters and hunger. Today, many are thriving as students and young professionals, and contributing to the vibrant fabric of our nation. In Pennsylvania, DACA has allowed nearly 5,900 young people to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in the country. Ending DACA would cost Pennsylvania nearly $357.1 million in annual GDP losses. To our Philadelphian DACA recipients – we respect you, we love you, and don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re not an American.”
Sen. Bob Casey called Trump’s decision on Tuesday “an insult to America and our values” and “profoundly unjust, immoral and without regard for basic fairness.”
Last week, Philly Archbishop Charles J. Chaput expressed support for the program, claiming in a statement that it’s “one thing to tighten the security of our borders and to deport violent criminals” but “it’s a different and much uglier thing to punish young people who’ve grown up in the United States as their home.”
Some local business leaders, like University City Science Center president and CEO Stephen S. Tang, also spoke out against Trump’s decision on Tuesday.
“At the University City Science Center, we are committed to ensuring that the pipeline for the future innovation workforce is filled,” Tang said in a statement. “This will ensure a strong future for our city, our state, our region and our nation. I don’t believe that we can afford to turn away people who want to live and work here as responsible members of our society, just because they were born outside of our borders – nor should we make it difficult for dreamers to stay here and reach their full potential.”
Others have weighed in on social media.
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