MANCHESTER, N.H. — Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday called President Donald Trump’s reported decision to end a program that grants temporary legal status to people who were brought to the United States illegally as children “one of the most cruel and ugly” decisions by a modern president.
In a Labor Day speech to members of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO in Manchester, Sanders said it was the job of union members to bring people together and stand with those affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and the people of Houston who lost their homes in flooding from Hurricane Harvey.
“Imagine telling 800,000 young people, bright young people, exemplary young people … that they are going to lose their legal protections,” Sanders, an independent who ran for president as a Democrat, said to the estimated 350 union members and activists at the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. “So I say to the United States Congress: If Trump goes ahead with his very, very cruel decision, our job is to pass legislation to protect the young DACA people and to make that program permanent.”
There are an estimated 800,000 immigrants, nicknamed Dreamers, who are part of the DACA program. Trump, a Republican, is expected to announce on Tuesday that he’s going to end the program with a six-month delay.
Trump has been wrestling for months with what to do with the President Barack Obama-era DACA program, which has given young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the form of two-year, renewable work permits. During his presidential campaign, he slammed DACA as illegal “amnesty” and vowed to eliminate it the day he took office. But since his election, he has wavered on the issue, once telling The Associated Press that those covered could “rest easy.” His plan to end the program was first reported by Politico on Sunday.
Sanders, at the Manchester appearance, also called for those present to stand with women “who have lost the right to control their own bodies” and with members of the LGBTQ community, who he said are “shocked by Trump’s decision to deny transgender people the right to serve in our military.”
The former presidential hopeful also plugged his Medicare-for-all bill, a piece of legislation he says he plans to introduce that would extend government-run health care services to all Americans.
It’s not going to be an easy fight, Sanders said, predicting that his plan would face heavy opposition from industry interests.
“We’re taking on the insurance companies. We’re taking on Wall Street. But ultimately we will win this struggle,” he said, because most Americans understand that “health care is a right.”
Sanders was joined at the Manchester event by his Democratic colleagues from New Hampshire, U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen.
Later on Monday, he was scheduled to speak in Concord and in the Vermont communities of White River Junction and Middlebury.