Local Immigrant Advocate Says ‘No Safety Net’ After DACA Decision
President Donald Trump's administration made the controversial decision Tuesday to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the immigration program that allowed certain children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States for up to three renewable two-year periods. It began as an Executive Action by President Barack Obama in 2012.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that the program was being rescinded, with a six-month window in which expiring permits would be renewed while Congress attempts to pass legislation dealing with the so-called "Dreamers."
Helena DaSilva Hughes, Executive Director of the Immigrants Assistance Center in New Bedford, said she expected the Trump administration to rescind DACA sooner or later.
"Well, first of all, I have to say, I am not surprised," Hughes said. "But at the same time, I was trying to be optimistic in thinking that DACA would not be terminated."
Hughes also said she's not counting on Congress to come up with any solutions, either.
"Congress has been using this immigration reform, and anything that has to do with immigration, as a political football, both Republicans and Democrats. And at the end of the day, nothing has been done," she said. "So I'm not being too optimistic that in six months, there's going to be some legislative solution on DACA recipients."
Hughes said there are over 8,000 DACA receipients in Massachusetts alone, and that it has been "very beneficial" for students to operate as a safety net, allowing them to partake in what America can offer without fear of being deported as illegal immigrants.
"(Now), a lot of students are very uneasy, and very frightened about what is going to happen to them," she said. "So I've been telling them that they're going to be here undocumented, just like their parents, with no safety net."
Hughes said she is not happy with how the Trump adminstration made this decision based on pressure from Attorneys General from 10 different states, threatening to take the adminstration to court if a decision wasn't reached by Tuesday. She said the jockeying back and forth between the president and Congress as to who ultimately makes the decision has been disheartening.
"Six months goes by really fast, and I really do not feel that Congress will deliver an appropriate legislative solution to this matter," she said. "It's just one of those things, you just kind of pass the buck."