After President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Tuesday, some Santa Clarita elected officials and community members are calling for immigration reform.
DACA protected some 800,000 “Dreamers” nationwide who are undocumented as a result of parents bringing them to the United States as children.
An executive order issued under former President Barack Obama’s administration, the act allowed children to legally go to work and school.
The Trump administration’s decision now reverses all that, per the announcement of U.A. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday morning.
No new DACA applications will be accepted and current recipients will start losing protections as early as March 6. As current permits can be renewed until then, the program will not be fully eliminated until 2020.
Two days prior to the DACA announcement, Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) said Congress should work to find solutions for immigrants.
“Their status deserves a thorough and thoughtful review,” Knight said of DACA recipients. “While the program may be ending, it should still receive attention by Congress. I encourage my colleagues to take the opportunity to now review this policy closely to see the impact this decision will have on the affected children.”
After the Trump administration’s announcement, however, reaction from others was swift.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called on national elected officials for immigration solutions.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is desperately needed on the federal level to fix our broken immigration system,” Barger said in a statement. “President Trump has given Congress an opportunity to do what they were elected to do and immediately pass permanent bipartisan legislation on DACA.”
Barger pointed to legislation by Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin as an example, which aimed to help immigrants earn residency and citizenship. The supervisor cited that Obama meant for DACA to be temporary and needed further congressional action.
In Los Angeles County alone, there are thought to be 900,000 people who are undocumented, according to the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights. Some 222,795 of those are DACA recipients, according the Los Angeles Times.
Congress ought to act immediately to fix the country’s immigration system, according to Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita).
“Along with border security and modernizing our processes, the first steps should include protecting Dreamers,” Acosta said in a statement. “America should not be in the business of deporting children brought here through no fault of their own. They deserve a chance within reasonable timeframes to become citizens of the only country they know as home.”
To Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), rescinding DACA is a chance for a long-term reform, which he said should not be done through an Executive Order but with multiple parties’ input.
“Our present federal immigration system is not working,” Wilk said in a statement. “Given this morning’s announcement, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been handed the opportunity to work together and enact meaningful bipartisan immigration policy.”
In a Tweet on Monday, Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) spoke in favor of protecting DACA recipients.
“So in that #LaborDay spirit let’s resolve to organize a new coalition: to defend our #DACA kids, the future of labor #Dreamers,” Stern wrote.
Though the city cares about protecting immigrants, Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth said further action needs to be taken up at the federal level.
“Immigration has always challenged local and state governments,” Smyth said. “When (the federal government does not) take action, it is up to local jurisdictions to try to find solutions.”
Knowing that DACA has an impact on Santa Clarita local residents, Smyth said he wants to encourage immigrant youth not to panic.
“This community is one that has always stepped up to help those who need it or ask for it,” the mayor said. “They should have faith in that.”
And community groups spoke up as well.
Community action groups
Apolonio Morales, political director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles, said the immigration issue can best be addressed through legislation.
“Today has been an emotional rollercoaster for folks,” Morales said. “There’s a sense of urgency… let’s push for something permanent.”
Santa Clarita Valley Young Democrats President Andrew Taban said he believes removing DACA is unethical and immoral to the students who were promised opportunities for working hard when they were taught about the American Dream.
“I think it is a cruel act,” Taban said of taking away DACA protections. “It is the only country they know and they are no longer wanted.”
Most of all, Taban said it is important to continue to humanize immigrant youth.
Additionally, he said deporting these people will be an added burden to taxpayers.
“This decision does not make humane or economic sense,” he said.
Rescinding DACA the day after Labor Day is especially “inhumane,” according to Philip Germain, chair of CA25 United for Progress.
“What does cutting DACA help with? What is the logic?” Germain said.
Fighting to elect representatives who will protect immigrants is important to CA25UP, Germain said. Congressman Knight’s voting record does not align with helping immigrants, according to Germain, because he voted against the California DREAM Act.
Students on college campuses are waiting to see if the dream will be taken away from them.
In an email to College of the Canyons students, Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said the decision to do away with DACA would not change any protections the college offers its students.
“I am deeply saddened by this news, and can only begin to imagine the fear and anxiety that our DACA students at College of the Canyons are experiencing as they wonder what comes next for themselves and their families,” Van Hook said in a statement. “Despite this uncertainty, today’s decision does not alter our commitment at College of the Canyons to create educational opportunities for the students we serve.”
The college will not release any personal information regarding students’ immigration status and would continue to advocate for educational opportunities regardless of legal status, Van Hook said.