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DACA Repeal Termed 'Heartbreaking' and 'Cruel'

President Obama began the DACA program in 2012. It includes about 12,000 Oregonians. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
President Obama began the DACA program in 2012. It includes about 12,000 Oregonians. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
September 6, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. - As expected, the Trump administration announced Tuesday it would end a program protecting young immigrants brought to the United States as children.

Put in place by President Obama in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has protected about 12,000 people in Oregon and 800,000 people across the country, as they go to school and work.

Andrea Williams, executive director of the immigrants' rights group Causa, said the decision is causing anxiety among Oregon's DACA participants.

"It's unfathomable to think that people who grew up their entire lives here, who literally do not know the country they came from when they were little, would be forced to leave their home," she said, "and that is a truly heartbreaking situation."

The program allows deferrals that protect the young people known as "Dreamers" from deportation as they go to college and apply for work permits. Federal officials have said Dreamers whose DACA eligibility expires between now and March 5 can reapply for permits, adding that they won't target them for deportation after their deferrals expire.

Ten states threatened legal action if DACA were not phased out by Tuesday. President Trump issued a statement Tuesday saying he does not "favor punishing children ... for the actions of their parents," adding that he wrestled with the decision. However, Williams said that's little consolation for those who now face an uncertain future.

"The president and his administration have been nothing but cruel and heartless in this entire immigration situation," she said. "They did not need to do this. It was within the president's own power to continue the program, at least until Congress could show that they could pass a bill."

Williams said DACA recipients could be saved by the Dream Act, currently in Congress, which would provide a path to citizenship.

"Passing the Dream Act is solely in the hands right now of Republican leadership in Congress," she said, "and so, we will continue to advocate and ask our only Republican Congressman, Greg Walden, who is in Republican leadership, to work with us."

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR