Pa., NJ lawmakers comment on DACA announcement

The Trump administration on Tuesday formally announced the end of DACA -- a program that had protected from deportation nearly 800,000 young people who were illegally brought to the United States as children.

The administration said the move is the "least disruptive" option available after facing a threat from 10 state attorneys general to challenge the program in court.

"It is now time for Congress to act!" the president said as he urged lawmakers to come up with a solution.

Members of New Jersey and Pennsylvania's congressional delegations weighed in on the announcement.


U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Democrat, New Jersey:

"Today's decision is a moral catastrophe that should shake us all to the core. The President of the United States has decided to tear apart hundreds of thousands of families and target hardworking young people who were brought to this country by their parents. In addition, President Trump is violating the trust that DREAMers placed in the US government when they came forward to comply with the law and apply for DACA.

"DREAMers are productive members of society who contribute positively to our communities and boost our economy. Shutting the door of American opportunity and sending them back to countries they barely know is cruel, unjust, and flies in the face of what our country stands for.

"Congress can and should circumvent this misguided decision by passing legislation that will protect the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who are now facing deportation. Congress must also act to finally fix our broken immigration system and pass comprehensive immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for millions of Americans living in the shadows, keeps families together, and lives up to our highest ideals and values."


U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Democrat, Pennsylvania:

"The 'Dreamers' are young people who have lived in our country since they were children. They have been law-abiding residents who have learned English, paid taxes and secured jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families. Our government promised them that they would be protected if they came forward and now President Trump is breaking that promise.

"President Trump's action today is an insult to America and our values. This action is profoundly unjust, immoral and without regard for basic fairness. Tearing apart the lives of these young people will make our nation less safe, and harm our economy. According to the CATO Institute, deporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients would cost more than $60 billion and would result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.  The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that the 1.3 million young people enrolled in or eligible for DACA pay $2 billion each year in state and local taxes.

"It's clear that Republicans in Washington and the Trump Administration are not serious about fixing the problem of illegal immigration, securing our border and reforming our immigration system. Instead, their only plan is to deport 11 million individuals, including 790,000 Dreamers. Congress should move immediately to pass the bipartisan Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would allow the Dreamers to become permanent residents if they meet the very stringent qualifications outlined in the bill."


U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Democrat, New Jersey:

"President Trump promised to do right by our nation's DREAMers, but with this decision he has chosen once again to cloak his presidency with a white nationalist flag instead of the diverse fabric of our multicultural American society. By ending DACA, the Trump Administration is making a mistake of historic proportions for which our nation will pay dearly both in economic and moral capital. DREAMers are the motherhood and apple pie of the immigrant community and they’re a critical part of the solution to our many challenges as a country. Declaring open season on these model citizens – as General Kelly likes to call them – is cruel, inhumane and simply un-American.  

"The fact is today's announcement makes the passage of a clean DREAM Act a national emergency. Congressional Republicans find themselves at another critical junction where they can put country over party by refusing to stand on the sidelines of this president’s self-destructive behavior. Make no mistake, history is on our side and it is my sincere hope Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan allow us to swiftly vote on a bill that enshrines legal protections for our DREAMers without any unrelated provisions or poison pills. I personally worked for years to convince the Obama administration to create the DACA program and I refuse to let its beneficiaries be further victimized in the name of nativist fear mongering. Now is not the time to sit idly by hoping extremists catch up with reality; it is time for elected leaders to do our job, stand up and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

"The story of DACA is a story I've come to tell with a great sense of pride and patriotism. After years of fearless advocacy, the government asked young DREAMers for their trust and faith. Since then, hundreds of thousands of DREAMers have been coming out of the shadows, passing criminal background checks, paying fees, and despite their natural human instinct for protection, voluntarily handing over personal information about themselves and their families to authorities they had been forced to hide from for most of their lives. These promising individuals trusted their government to acquire two-year renewable work permits and receive what they thought was protection from deportation. Now, half a decade since its implementation, DACA is universally accepted as an overwhelming success, a beacon of hope and an example to follow in solving our immigration challenge. And yet, here we are."


U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican, Pennsylvania:

"Children who were brought to the United States illegally, at a young age, are not at fault and deserve our support. However, President Obama did not have the legal authority to create the DACA program and to ignore enforcement of existing immigration law. President Trump's decision to end this program, while giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution, is the right step.

"Congress needs to pass legislation to accommodate these young people while simultaneously addressing the other challenges within our deeply broken immigration system, including stopping dangerous sanctuary cities, strengthening border security, and cracking down on companies that hire people who are here illegally."


U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, Republican, Pennsylvania's 11th District:

"I commend President Trump for placing a deadline on ending DACA and recognizing that decisions regarding immigration in this country rest with Congress, not the executive branch.  When President Obama illegally granted amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, he improperly created more competition for American workers and legal immigrants who are already finding it difficult to get work.  American citizens, or people who have come to the United States legally, should not have to suffer from others butting in line after they have broken the law to enter this country.  Today, by putting such decisions back in the hands of Congress, President Trump is putting America first and making it clear that no president has the authority to create immigration law.

"America is a proud nation of hard-working citizens and legal immigrants.  Today’s announcement is a victory for the forgotten American worker and legal immigrants who followed the rule of law to become part of our nation.  Too often in the debate about illegal immigration, the media and politicians focus on the person who came to this country illegally. No one talks about the American worker and legal immigrant whose wages are depressed and jobs are threatened by illegal immigration.  I am proud to stand with those hard-working individuals and their families.

"On this issue, I have been clear:  We cannot have a conversation about those who are in our country illegally before we stop the flow of illegal immigration.  We are dealing with this problem today because Congress has failed to enforce our laws and secure our borders.  By putting the debate our fixing our broken immigration system into the hands of Congress, where it belongs, President Trump is giving the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate the chance to put the forgotten American first.  The American people deserve to know that their government is serious about defending their security and protecting their jobs. Our country cannot afford for Congress to fail on this issue again."


U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, Democrat, New Jersey's 5th District:

"I strongly support DACA because I believe DREAMers make our nation stronger and should have the opportunity to earn citizenship. Standing with DREAMers is standing up for American values. I'm cosponsoring an amendment to block the administration from rescinding the program and sent a letter to the president urging him to defend DACA in the face of legal challenges. I will continue to do everything I can to advocate for these young people."


U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, Republican, New Jersey's 7th District:

"Like many of my colleagues I agree that President Obama exceeded his Constitutional authority and disregarded existing law to implement his plan for undocumented immigrants.

"Today President Trump has called on Congress to act and rightfully so.   To this end, I am cosponsoring legislation that would provide a workable, permanent legislative solution for those individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children with their undocumented parents.

"Over the coming weeks I intend to work closely with my colleagues and the Administration to pass meaningful immigration reforms that will secure our borders, strengthen employment verification and provide a workable path for 'Dreamers' with DACA status."


U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, Republican, Pennsylvania's 16th District:

"I have had countless discussions with DREAMers in Pennsylvania who are active and positive residents of our commonwealth. I agree with President Trump's administration that there should be a legislative solution instead of a DHS directive that was never intended to be a permanent fix."


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