PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s Democratic leaders are condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out a program that shields from deportation immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were children.
Members of the Democratic congressional delegation said Tuesday that the Republican president’s decision will hurt those people who have studied diligently and contributed to their communities.
New applications will be halted for former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants, often called Dreamers, with a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits.
“President Trump’s heartless decision to revoke DACA is a moral, humanitarian, and economic failure on his part,” U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said in a statement. “Rescinding DACA this way is not about the rule of law, it is about President Trump pandering to an extreme viewpoint.”
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Trump is breaking apart families, bruising the economy and “signaling to champions of hate and bigotry that their voices matter most.”
U.S. Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin called the Trump administration’s actions “cruel.”
“America has always stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity. But not today,” Cicilline said.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is also protesting the decision. She said the state will stand up for the “American dream and the Dreamers who keep it alive.”
There are about 1,200 DACA recipients in Rhode Island, and the estimated annual gross domestic product loss of removing local DACA workers is about $61 million, according to Raimondo’s office.
Trump says he’s providing a window of opportunity for Congress to come up with a legislative fix.