By Bartholomew D. Sullivan
WASHINGTON — Several members of California’s congressional delegation slammed the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Tuesday as they returned to Washington after a monthlong recess.
With nearly 223,000 recipients of DACA protections, Californians constitute one in four of its beneficiaries. The decision split the Republican caucus with some supporting the decision based on their view of the constitutionality of the 2102 executive action, but some opposed.
Even before the official announcement, Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, said on Twitter: “Congress must act to repair immigration system & ensure children, who were brought through no fault of their own, are allowed to stay.”
Valadao has also co-sponsored the Recognizing America’s Children Act with the same goal, and has asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to send it to the floor for a vote.
Fellow Central Valley Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, told CNN Tuesday that he, too, wanted to see DACA extended. In a statement on his website, he wrote: “To target them now is wrong.”
Others sought to show sympathy for those helped by the Obama administration protections while acknowledging something unspecified should be done by Congress to address the plight of those losing them.
“Many of the children impacted by the DACA program were brought to the United States and have known no other country,” said Rep. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale. “Their status deserves a thorough and thoughtful review. 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.”
Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, had anticipated the announcement by filing two amendments to a spending bill in August before she left for vacation. The amendments would deny funding for actions to remove from the U.S. anyone granted DACA status since June 2012.
“The President’s decision to end the DACA program — effectively ripping the rug out from under nearly 800,000 young people who have been vetted and passed background checks — is heartless and irresponsible,” Brownley said after the decision was made official. “These Dreamers came to America as minors, through no fault of their own. President Trump told them they could ‘rest easy.’ But now he has thrown them into six more months of limbo and uncertainty, turning them into political pawns.”
Mexican-born Reps. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, and Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, were among several calling for Congress to immediately take up comprehensive immigration reform in response to the decision and the six-month deadline Trump has established. Carbajal specifically suggested an existing bill, the DREAM Act, that would codify the Obama administration’s protections for the children brought to the U.S. by their parents.
“DACA has given nearly 800,000 young people a shot at the American Dream, allowing them to come forward, live, work, and learn in the United States legally and without fear of deportation,” Carbajal said. “This includes the over 9,000 students, entrepreneurs, and military members eligible for the program on the Central Coast. I was once a young immigrant to this nation, which has since given me the opportunity to work hard, raise my family, and serve my country both in the military and in Congress. Terminating DACA and stripping Dreamers of that hope and opportunity is unconscionable and incompatible with our American values.
“We cannot afford to abandon DACA recipients, who have lived in America all their lives and contribute to this country in many ways,” he said.
Ruiz, a medical doctor, said ending DACA protections “goes against the very core of our values as Americans.”
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Monterey, said the decision “slams the door in the face of countless young people who contribute to the communities in which they have lived for most of their lives.”
Both of California’s Democratic Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, condemned the decision, with Feinstein describing the failure to protect children who have come out of the shadows to provide the information that could be used to deport them as “an abject moral failure.”
“They’re American in every way that matters, and we should welcome their contributions to our society,” Feinstein said.
Harris released her statement in both English and Spanish, saying that Trump’s decision “has once again sided with division and hate.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, also couched the decision in moralistic terms. On Twitter, he wrote: “Donald Trump again shows that no child is too young or vulnerable, no step is too low, and why he is the worst President in modern history.”
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, was en route to Washington and could not immediately respond to questions about the decision, his spokesman said.
While he did not endorse the decision announced Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, called it “a catalyst to achieve long-overdue reforms.” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, said he applauded Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “as they restore rigorous constitutional standards to the vexing issue of illegal immigration.” Rohrabacher said it is now up to Congress to find a solution.
California Lutheran University political science professor Herbert E. Gooch said he’s “dubious” Congress can craft a solution that the president will sign within the six months allotted. He said it’s more likely “kicking the can” down the road.
Gooch said the “optics” are awful for the new president and “kicking the can” for six months gives him the plausible argument that the issue is one for Congress to address. He said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California have no incentive to solve a problem that makes Trump look “heartless” and Republicans “inept, divided and nasty.”