More than 1,850 leaders from around the country pleaded with President Donald Trump on Wednesday to preserve an Obama administration program that protects DREAMers from deportation.
Trump is considering ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which President Barack Obama created. It has granted deportation protections to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
Eight governors, five state attorneys general, more than 130 mayors, 230 state legislators, and a slew of faith leaders, judges, police chiefs and sheriffs signed onto a statement asking Trump to reconsider.
The vast majority of the signers are Democrats, including all the governors and attorneys general. They represent states ranging from California and Oregon to Minnesota, New York and Virginia.
The list includes several Republicans, as well, such as Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and Aurora (Colo.) Mayor Steve Hogan.
In the letter, the group highlights the economic contributions DREAMers have made to their communities since the program was created in 2012. They said the U.S. economy would lose $460 billion over the next decade if DACA were terminated. In addition, businesses would incur $3.4 billion in turnover costs to replace their DACA employees, who are given work permits under the program, the letter said.
Most importantly, the signers stressed the moral obligation of the U.S. to protect those undocumented immigrants, calling an end of the program "senselessly cruel."
"Five years ago we made a promise to them that they could continue to stay here and work towards achieving their American dreams," said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat. "Now there are national leaders cruelly threatening to break that promise, a move that would fly in the face of everything we stand for as a nation that welcomes those seeking opportunity for a better life."
"As governor I will do everything I can to keep our Dreamers safe here, at home," Inslee added.
The DACA program grants two-year stays for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States before their 16th birthday who have attended school or joined the military and have not committed any serious crimes. It also grants them work permits.
The program was created through a memorandum by the Department of Homeland Security, which means it can be rescinded without any input from Congress. The president could decide to eliminate the program immediately, or simply stop approving new applications and allow the remaining DACA terms to expire.
During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed to end the program, calling it another example of Obama's abuse of executive power. After winning the presidential election, Trump changed his position, expressing sympathy for the young immigrants and saying he would treat them with "great heart."
Republican leaders in 10 states have threatened to sue the administration if it doesn't end the program by next Tuesday. John Kelly, the president's chief of staff and former secretary of Homeland Security, has said such a lawsuit is likely to prevail, meaning DACA's days are probably numbered.
Trump has been vague about what he will do. "It’s a decision that I make, and it’s a decision that’s very, very hard to make," Trump said in July.
The White House and Homeland Security did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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