After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday morning that the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be phased out, immigrants rights groups, state leaders and legislators got to work on possible ways to thwart the decision attributed to President Trump.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank quickly embraced a tool that's been used before: stripping funds from federal law enforcement. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Orange County did this successfully by blocking taxpayer cash for U.S. Department of Justice crackdowns on cannabis in states where medical pot is legal. Schiff said today that he planned to introduce legislation that would, according to a statement from his office, "prohibit any funds to be used for the deportation of individuals granted deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program."
The proposal would be attached to spending authorization for the federal government under the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. "For many Dreamers, America is the only home they’ve ever known, and deporting these young people would be cruel and wrong," Schiff said in a statement.
The DACA program covers folks known as "Dreamers" — named for multiple unsuccessful congressional attempts, known collectively as the Dream Act, to create protection for undocumented people brought to the United States as minors. There are nearly 800,000 people covered by DACA protection, with nearly one-fourth of them in California, according to Schiff's office. About 100,000 Dreamers are believed to reside in Greater Los Angeles.
U.S. Rep. Linda Sánchez of Whittier and U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas of the East Valley said through representatives that they would support the legislation. "The president has shown his outright hostility to the Latino community," Sánchez said in a statement. However, these two, along with Schiff, are Democrats, and they'd need Republican support to give this proposal life.
Martha Arevalo, executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), says that's highly unlikely. "I'm hesitant to say there will be bipartisan support," she says. "But I'm grateful Adam Schiff is thinking outside the box to do what's best for this nation."
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Jorge-Mario Cabrera, director of communications for one of the West Coast's largest immigrants rights groups, CHIRLA (Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights), agreed that Schiff's is an honorable stand regardless of outcome. "Trump's deportation machine is insatiable and we applaud elected officials who stand for fairness and justice and not approve not even $1 for more deportations, cruelty and family separations," he said via email.
Carlos Amador, organizing director of the California Immigrant Policy Center, wasn't impressed. Amid contemporary deportations across Southern California, he wants to see broader action to block what he sees as an ethnic witch hunt.
"Deportations are happening now for those not protected by DACA," he says. "Those people should be protected as well — not just choosing the most likable of immigrants.
"If Rep. Adam Schiff or other members of Congress feel there's a way to defund Trump's deportation machine," Amador says, "then we should do it for everyone regardless of when they came to this country."