Claiming the country "must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we accept each year," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Local elected officials and candidates for office are pledging to fight the repeal in court and in the streets.
Yesterday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee called ending DACA "cruel" and said the state "will consider every option possible to challenge the repeal of DACA, including legal action, coordination with other states, and any executive action that could help protect Dreamers." Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson cut to the chase. He says he'll sue the Trump Administration. Ferguson is set to appear at a press conference and rally in support of DACA this afternoon.
Members of Washington's Congressional delegation from both sides of the aisle called on Congress to act.
Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who rose to political prominence after she founded the immigration advocacy group OneAmerica and who last night hosted a "dinner with Dreamers," said Trump is "destroying the future of nearly 800,000 young men and women who were brought here by their parents and know no other country but this one." She called on Congress to "immediately pass stand-alone legislation to protect Dreamers." (Jayapal's district covers most of Seattle.)
"Let me be clear: Our immigrant brothers and sisters are here to stay. Not only are they welcome in our communities—they are essential to our communities," Jayapal said. "I will continue to fight alongside Dreamers and the immigrant rights movement. I ask my Republican colleagues to consider which side of justice they wish to be on, and join us in passing legislation to protect Dreamers once and for all.”
Democratic Rep. Suzan DelBene, whose district also covers part of Seattle, said Trump's actions "are cruel, heartless and do nothing to secure our borders or fix our immigration system."
Democratic Washington Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell also denounced the decision. Murray called it "a political move to pander to [Trump's] extreme, hardline base."
Even Dave Reichert, an Issaquah Republican with an 82.5 percent Trump Score who's too afraid to talk to his constituents, thinks this is a terrible idea. Reichert has cosponsored legislation with Jayapal to protect DACA recipients. Today, he said, "punishing these individuals who have contributed so much to our communities and for a crime they did not commit is not in the American DNA" and called on Congress to "work toward a long-term immigration solution." (Meanwhile, Spokane's Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a high-ranking House Republican, offered this statement, which says exactly nothing.)
King County Executive Dow Constantine said the administration "is intentionally tearing families and communities apart across the United States, threatening innocent people who were brought to America as children."
Seattle City Council member Lorena González called Trump "tone deaf" and said rolling back DACA could cost Washington $1 billion in lost gross domestic product
DACA has helped create pathways to homeownership, gainful employment, and pursuing a better education. Further, undocumented immigrants pay local and federal taxes, with their contributions to Social Security and Medicare totaling $385.5M, while over $205M going toward state and local taxes. DACA helps hundreds of thousands of people pursue their American dream and makes our communities stronger and robust. In our state more than 43,000 of our friends, family members, neighbors and loved ones are DACA-eligible; and, of these, approximately 19,000 DACA recipients already reside in Washington State.
“Trump’s announcement is a calculated attempt to garner political points, creating unnecessary devastation to people’s lives. It’s also a threat to all of us, immigrant or not, when we have policies that destabilize our community and erode public safety and trust in law enforcement. If an immigrant, with or without DACA, is a witness or victim to a crime, they may choose to not report that crime because of their status. Inclusive policies and communities are safer and more secure for everyone, despite the callous attempts of fear mongering rhetoric to tell you otherwise.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called the action "a reprehensible and heartless act by a president who has repeatedly attacked immigrants." Murray said the city "will continue to lead in protecting immigrants and refugees," reiterating the city's sanctuary city policies and newly established legal defense fund. His office added later that it will dedicate $150,000 in new money toward helping DACA recipients know their rights and file for renewal. DACA recipients can get help from the city's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.
Both candidates vying to replace Murray also pledged to protect DACA recipients.
Cary Moon said Friday that Seattle "will remain a sanctuary city that will enact bold policy to protect the most vulnerable communities against discriminatory federal policy," but did not offer specific policies. Her opponent, Jenny Durkan, today issued this list of proposals (most of them continuations of efforts already underway):
• Continue to support the Office of Immigrants and Refugees and continue funding the Legal Defense Fund to protect immigrants and refugees unjustly at risk in the Trump Administration.
• Maintain support for the Family Unity Project to provide community education programs in Seattle Public Schools that provides critical information, training and resources for immigrant students and their families at risk of detention and to teachers, counselors and administrators in our schools.
• Work with civil rights organizations, immigrant communities, health care facilities, places of worship, schools and other organizations to ensure all locations that qualify as "sensitive locations" are properly designated, and the community and SPD are educated about what protections that provides from immigration enforcement.
• Explore a new policy requiring command staff level review of joint projects with federal task forces and limit reliance on federal immigration warrants to ensure that SPD’s public commitment not to partner with other agencies on immigration enforcement isn't “back doored.”
• Work with the City Attorney’s Office, the Justice Advocacy Network, the Washington Defender Association and the Public Defender Association to change filing and disposition standards to minimize the number of people who acquire criminal dispositions that have disproportionate immigration consequences.
• Review of all data and information collected by all city agencies to ensure documented status is not unnecessarily collected or used as eligibility criteria for services.
• Enact the Seattle Promise proposal that applies to all Seattle public school graduates to support educational opportunities and free tuition including DREAMers and undocumented students, who are working hard and contributing to our economy.
In the race for an open city council seat, candidate Jon Grant pointed to his immigration platform, which promises to increase sanctuary city protections and legal aid for immigrants. He also said his campaign is ready for direct action:
To all our friends and neighbors: we want you to know that we have your back. We understand that politicians in the past have made promises to immigrant communities and failed to deliver. So beyond proposing policy solutions, our campaign is also committed to taking direct action in solidarity to block deportations if necessary. As people of conscience, with the protections and security afforded by our citizenship, we’re ready to put our bodies on the line, on behalf of our neighbors and in service to the values driving our campaign. Rather than succumb to the divisiveness from the White House and allow them to tear us apart, pitting neighbor against neighbor; we will unite and lock our arms together in solidarity. The White House may not be willing to defend DACA or protect the young immigrants who’ve benefited from the program, but together, we can always provide the protection of beloved community.
Grant's opponent Teresa Mosqueda has expressed solidarity with Dreamers on social media.
I'll update this post if we hear more. In a statement this afternoon, Mosqueda said, "I will be in the streets and in city hall fighting to protect these communities."
"DACA recipients are our neighbors, friends, co-workers, spouses, entrepreneurs and emerging leaders," Mosqueda said. "They've grown up with us, studied with us, paid taxes with us and marched with us. Make no mistake: they are Americans and today the administration turned its back to them."
This post has been updated with new information.