By Harry Colbert, Jr.
While much of the U.S. population was focused on the devastation during and following Hurricane Harvey and keeping an eye on the approaching Hurricane Irma, the nation’s president was looking for ways to further peel away the legacy of President Barack Obama.
That is how it seemed to many when on Sept. 5 President Donald Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, announced the administration would rescind Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under DACA individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children – some 800,000; most who only know the United States to be their home – are afforded protections from deportation and allowed to legally attend public schools and maintain employment. With Sessions’ announcement, those protections will go away unless Congress acts within the next six months.
Condemnation of the act by the Trump Administration was swift and crossed party lines.
“We’re putting kids, young people in jeopardy, this is not the America that we all love, this is a melting pot,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R). “If the dreamers want to go somewhere and live, come to Ohio, we want all the immigrants to come to Ohio, we know how much immigrants contribute. We don’t want to take young people and ship them out of our country. They are great contributors.”
Kasich, who sought the Republican nomination for president, called Trump’s actions immoral.
Here in Minnesota the reaction was much the same. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-5th Dist.), who is the DNC co-chair, was pointed in his rebuke of Trump’s decision on DACA, calling it racist.
“Despite overwhelming bipartisan support for DACA youth, the president is catering to people who are extremist and prejudiced. President Trump cannot separate his decision to coddle the neo-Nazis and the KKK in Charlottesville from his cruel decision to slam the door in the face of Dreamers,” said Ellison in a statement. “It’s what he means when he says ‘Make America Great Again.’ Taken as a whole, his presidency represents a step backwards to the bad old days before ‘liberty and justice for all’ was a commonly accepted idea.”
Ellison said Trump has turned his back on nearly 800,000 people who call themselves Americans.
“President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program is a devastating betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of youth who placed their trust in our government,” said Ellison. “For the past five years, DACA has provided a pathway to hope and prosperity for nearly 800,000 young people across our nation, including almost 6,300 youth in Minnesota. DACA recipients make up the very fabric of our communities – as parents, students, veterans, law clerks, teachers, and more – and have lived almost their entire lives as Americans. The President’s decision will damage their futures and tear families apart. It is cruel and un-American.”
Minnesota’s DFL chair agrees.
“The Trump Administration’s heartless, cruel, and divisive action to end DACA goes against our morals and the very premise of the United States of America,” said DFL Chairman Ken Martin in a statement.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D) called the president’s actions an attack on true American values.
“President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is not only an attack on our immigrant youth, it is an attack on our values,” said Coleman in a statement. “DACA has provided hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth the opportunity to live, work and get an education without fear of deportation. Today DACA recipients are our friends, our neighbors, our students; tomorrow they’re our nurses, our engineers and our small-business owners. Ending DACA goes against the principles this country was built upon and the values for which it stands.”
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Ed Graff sent an email to staff, students and parents in support of DACA.
“We are gravely concerned and stand with the leaders of many large urban school districts around the nation in speaking out against (the) White House announcement that the DACA program will be ended — whether now or in six months,” said Graff. “I know that many MPS employees, students and families are experiencing fear, uncertainty, anger and disappointment. Please know you continue to have the support of MPS as the implications of (this) announcement unfold. Please know you can come to work or school tomorrow and receive the same support and educational services that you did before this decision was announced. We continue to believe the words of our Board of Education, which stated in January that the role of a school district is not to ask about the citizenship or immigration status of any of its students or families. Our role is to educate students and we can only do that if our students and employees feel safe.”
Not all were against Trump’s actions. Minnesota’s GOP chair, Jennifer Carnahan applauded the president for ending DACA and called his decision, “humane.”
“The President’s actions on DACA are reasonable, humane and ensure we are a nation of laws, not merely executive actions,” said Carnahan in a press release. “The U.S. Constitution is clear on the subject. In Article 1, Section 8, Congress – not the president or judicial branch – is given the power to ‘establish a uniform rule of naturalization.’ President Obama’s implementation of DACA was unconstitutional, and instead of putting an immediate end to the program, President Trump rightly provided Congress the time to fashion a legislative solution to the issue. Unlike President Obama, President Trump is following the rule of law.”