Ángeles Méndez, 18, a participant in the DACA program, protests in front of Trump Tower in New York. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

The Trump administration’s phaseout of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative — which has protected thousands of young people from deportation and allowed them to attend college, get better jobs and support their families and communities — has infuriated many at the national and local levels.

“President Trump’s decision is simply heartless,” said D.C. Council member David Grosso (At-Large), who chairs the council Committee on Education. “These young people have built a life here — living, learning, and working alongside neighbors, families and friends. The District of Columbia and the whole country are better for it.

“Casting their lives into further uncertainty, Trump has chosen to abdicate his moral leadership and recklessly pin their futures on the whims of Congress by delaying action for another six months,” he said. “Only hate could motivate a president to tear these individuals from their communities like this. I urge Congress to act before the March expiration of the program to secure the place of DACA recipients in our country.”

Fellow Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) also called Trump’s decision “heartless.”

“I think it’s really unconscionable that he’s eliminating the opportunity for people who’ve never known anywhere else,” he said. “How can you possibly send children who’ve never lived anywhere else back to a country they’ve never been to? What about those in the Armed Services? Are you going to send them back?

“I would hope that Congress steps up and rejects the very idea that DACA would be eliminated as an important experience for people who have never known anywhere else to live but America because this is not American, it’s not our principles,” Gray said.

Since Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, instituted the DACA program five years ago, it has offered protection for roughly 800,000 participants, or “Dreamers,” illegally brought to the country as children by their parents.

The program provides young undocumented immigrants protection from deportation and a work permit.

Requirements include being 31 or younger as of June 15, 2012; arriving in the U.S. before an individual’s 16th birthday; having lived continuously in America from June 15, 2007; having been physically present in the country on June 15, 2012, and at the time of application for the program; entering without documents before June 15, 2012, or an individual’s lawful status having expired as of June 15, 2012; currently studying or have graduated from high school or have earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorable discharged from the Coast Guard or military; and have not been convicted of a felony, certain misdemeanors, three or more misdemeanors of any kind.

“The decision to rip DACA away from nearly 800,000 young people to comply with the fictitious deadline set forth by the attorney general of Texas is among the most destructive and heartbreaking actions performed by President Trump since he took office, and that’s saying a lot for an administration that has done so much damage and torn apart so many communities in eight months,” said Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund in northwest D.C.

“President Trump has acted heartlessly and lied about the way he would deal with the status of these young people, going back on his promise to ‘show great heart’ toward them,” Tanden said. “Dreamers are our neighbors, our fellow students, our colleagues at work, and we will fight this action. While this may energize President Trump’s most anti-immigrant supporters, particularly coming on the heels of his shameful pardon of the infamous former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, it does not reflect the views of the majority of Americans who believe Dreamers should be given the chance to live permanently in the United States, the country they call home and for many, the only home they’ve ever known.”

The Dreamers count as young people who have lived in the country since they were children and they’ve been law-abiding residents who’ve learned English, paid taxes and secured jobs that allow them to support themselves and their families, said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania).

“Our government promised them that they would be protected if they came forward and now President Trump is breaking that promise,” Casey said. “Trump’s action is an insult to America and our values. … This action is profoundly unjust, immoral and without regard for basic fairness. Tearing apart the lives of these young people will make our nation less safe, and harm our economy.”

According to the CATO Institute, deporting DACA recipients would cost more than $60 billion and would result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that the 1.3 million young people enrolled in or eligible for DACA pay $2 billion each year in state and local taxes.

“The District of Columbia stands for the human rights of everyone, including our immigrant neighbors regardless of legal status,” Grosso said. “I pledge to do everything I can on the Council to protect their place in our city and in our nation. I implore the young people impacted by this terrible decision to keep studying, working, and striving toward their dreams.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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