Gov. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Wyman, state’s higher education leaders blast Trump’s decision on DACA

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HARTFORD —  The Trump administration on Tuesday formally announced the end of DACA — a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.

It wasn’t long until Gov. Malloy Lt. Gov. Wyman and states education leaders responded. They are calling on Congress to take action as soon as possible to reverse what they call a “ill-conceived action.”

Gov. Dan Malloy:

President Trump’s wrong-minded decision to turn back the clock on DACA is completely nonsensical,” Governor Malloy said.  “From elementary and secondary education, to post-secondary education, to supports for vibrant, safe communities – we have invested so much into undocumented children who have grown up in America.  Denying these youths with access to work opportunities and affordable higher education goes against the very core of who we are.  The fact is, pushing these young, gifted individuals into the shadows not only diminishes their chance for a bright future, but it darkens ours, too.

We know that our state stands to benefit from welcoming Dreamers, and their talents, to our communities and our workplaces.  The rollback of DACA would be a disastrous mistake for not only Dreamers, but our entire nation.  I urge Congress to act swiftly to reverse this misguided action and enact protections for the over 10,000 youth in Connecticut, and hundreds of thousands more across the country, who are now at risk through no fault of their own.

Rep. John B. Larson 

“DREAMers were brought here as minors through no fault of their own, and have attended our schools, worked in our communities and have abided by the strict rules of the DACA program. Instead of supporting them, and allowing them to continue on a path towards citizenship, President Trump is stripping 800,000 young people of their legal status. In addition, this will have an enormous effect on our economy. There are 10,000 DACA recipients in CT. If these young people are no longer able to work, and contribute to the CT economy, we can expect an annual GDP loss of $315 million. This decision by the Trump Administration is unnecessary, cruel and harmful. Congress must act now to provide relief for DREAMers.  I stand ready to work with my colleagues on a fix and call on Speaker Ryan to act quickly on a solution. I support the efforts of Senators Durbin and Graham in the Senate and its counterpart in the House introduced by Rep. Roybal-Allard. I plan on cosponsoring the Dream Act of 2017. We need to pass legislation to make DACA permanent for DREAMers,” said Larson.

Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman:

I strongly condemn President Trump’s action to rescind DACA,” Lt. Governor Wyman said.  “Dreamers throughout the nation, including those in Connecticut, are engaged in our communities, our economy, and our tax rolls.  Purposefully tipping hundreds of thousands of residents into crisis is terrible policymaking, and tearing them from the only home they have ever known is just heartless.  We are a nation proudly built by immigrants just like the Dreamers.  Men and women who work hard and contribute, who are informed, and who love this nation.  Given the opportunity, they will build a strong future and leave a bright legacy for us all.

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff 

“The President’s decision to end the DACA program is cruel and runs counter to our American values,” said Senator Looney. “The Dreamers and beneficiaries of the DACA program have been here since they were very young; they put their faith in the United States and they are American in every way except for the circumstances of their births.

“Time and again America is at its strongest when we openly accept people from foreign lands; when we view immigrants not as competition, but as new recruits in carrying forward the torch of liberty and opportunity. That’s why I was proud to have stood with the Dreamers to pass Connecticut’s in-state tuition legislation and why I am proud to continue to stand with them on this dark day,” Senator Looney said.

“I am disappointed and angry with President Trump’s action to end the DACA program. Like many Americans, I am tired of the constant barrage of hateful policies and statements coming from the White House,” said Senator Duff. “Forcing these kids into the shadows of our society instead of embracing them as productive members of our communities, our colleges and our workforce is a calculated political maneuver designed to further divide the nation. I’ve met many Dreamers and feel the administration’s decision is simply un-American.

UConn President Susan Herbst:

The young people who are the beneficiaries of the DACA program were brought to the United States when they were children or teenagers,” UConn President Herbst said.  “Today, students in the DACA program who are enrolled at UConn have proven themselves to be talented, hard-working and ambitious, which is how they gained admission and why they are succeeding academically.  Like all of our graduates, after earning their degrees they can continue to lead positive, productive lives, contributing to our economy and our communities.  Above all, these bright young people are striving to succeed.  That sense of hope and opportunity represents the great promise of the United States and our higher education system.  Today’s action would have us turn our backs on them.  That is cruel, unjustified and ultimately self-defeating.

The university has grave concerns regarding the impact this action will have on affected students. In addition to raising the specter of deportation, impacted students may not be able to complete employment components of their degree programs, continue graduate assistantships, or earn an income to cover tuition and living expenses.

UConn staff are reviewing the order to determine the exact scope and timing of its impact. We are hopeful that Congress will use the six months noted in the executive order to pass legislation granting a permanent pathway for those affected to continue to live, work, and be educated in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

Please know that UConn will do all we are able to do in an effort to accommodate affected students in order to help them complete their studies or explore alternate requirements or courses of study as appropriate. Impacted undergraduate UConn students should reach out to the Dean of Students office or the office of the Chief Diversity Officer. Impacted graduate students should reach out to the Dean’s office in the Graduate School.”

CSCU President Ojakian:

The news today of the Trump Administration’s cancellation of the DACA program is heartbreaking and will have a devastating impact on some of the state’s best students,” CSCU President Ojakian said.  “There are some 800,000 young men and women protected by DACA nationwide, many of them here in Connecticut.  These DACA students were brought as children to the United States and for many of them, Connecticut is the only place they’ve called home.  We are extremely proud of our students – they are doing everything we expect them to do as engaged young people pursuing their dreams of higher education.  Many have double majors and all are working hard despite the day-to-day fear of knowing their families may be deported at any moment.

The fundamental responsibility of a public education institution is to foster learning, innovation, and strong communities to any student willing to put in the work to learn and achieve.  We have and will continue to fight for DACA students in our CSCU community.  That is why we advocated fervently to our legislators in favor of allowing our Dreamers access to their own institutional aid, and one of our universities was selected to host DACA students from states where they could not attend higher education institutions.  We stand with Connecticut’s DACA students and those across this country and urge Congress to finally take action to protect these young Americans.

Planned Parenthood

“Rescinding DACA is a cruel and immoral decision that shows a complete lack of humanity from this administration. We condemn any attempts that cause fear and division in the immigrant community,” said Amanda Skinner, President and CEO of PPSNE. “Planned Parenthood of Southern New England stands in solidarity with the DREAMers and all immigrant communities in Rhode Island, Connecticut and around the United States. The fight to protect DACA is far from over.”

President Barack Obama 
Immigration can be a controversial topic.  We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about.  This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag.  These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.  They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants.  They may not know a country besides ours.  They may not even know a language besides English.  They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship.  And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came.  And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country.  We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm.  Deportations of criminals went up.  Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks.  And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again.  To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong.  It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love.  And it is cruel.  What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer?  Where are we supposed to send her?  To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally.  It’s a political decision, and a moral question.  Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.  They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance.  Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today.  And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future.  I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should.  And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency.  This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.  It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray.  What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation.  That’s how America has traveled this far.  That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.