LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ attorney general praised President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to remove protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, and the state’s governor urged Congress to act quickly on a legislative fix and broader immigration reform.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs is a recognition it went beyond the executive branch’s authority. Rutledge was among a group of Republican attorneys general who said they would move forward with a challenge in federal court unless the Trump administration rescinded the program. Trump’s announcement gives Congress six months to find a legislative fix before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program.
“Congress has always been the proper place for this debate, and I am pleased that the President is granting Congress an additional six months to legislatively address this issue,” Rutledge said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, called a reform of immigration laws “long overdue” and said he believed the six-month delay would give Congress time to come up with a solution that should include a more secure border and broader changes.
“Our hearts go out to the children affected; their unique stories show they have a lot to add to the future of America. Congress should act quickly on this matter and hold hearings on reform legislation,” Hutchinson said.
Republicans hold all of Arkansas’ seven constitutional offices, its two Senate seats and four House seats.
Sen. Tom Cotton said dealing with the problem is a legislative task but said codifying the program would have negative consequences. He said discussions should include his proposal to dramatically reduce legal immigration and shift the nation toward a system that prioritizes merit and skills over family ties, as well as proposals from others to strengthen enforcement.
“These should be the starting point of our discussions, and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to come up with a deal that protects American workers,” Cotton said.
The chairman of the state Democratic Party blasted Trump’s decision as “impractical as it is coldhearted” and urged Arkansas’ Republicans to work on reforms that would protect young immigrants covered by the program.
“We know the bipartisan support this issue enjoys; it should be simple. We’ll see if Republicans can put down their political games for a minute and come together on this important issue,” state Rep. Michael John Gray said.
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