President Barack Obama has responded to the Trump administration’s Tuesday announcement to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a policy that Obama signed in 2012, calling the decision to end the program “cruel” and an attack on “basic decency.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, Obama detailed why his administration created DACA, and argued that the U.S. is stronger for its implementation.
“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,” Obama wrote. “And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.”
Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill…
“That bill never came,” he continued. “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.”
Obama added in this Tuesday post that, after 800,000 young people came forward, “met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks,” deportations of dangerous criminals actually increased. “And America grew stronger as a result,” he said.
The 44th president also appealed to the human aspect of the program, pointing out that Dreamers are part of the country’s everyday communities. “To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong,” he said. “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?”
“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,” he continued. “Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”
“Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” Obama’s statement said. “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,” the former president concluded. “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.”
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that over the next six months, the DACA program will be phased out, leaving hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States as children in suspense. The decision has been widely condemned by members of the media, Hollywood and lawmakers alike. Chris Evans (“Captain America”) tweeted some gratitude for Obama’s thoughtful response.
“Thank you. I was starting to forget what a president is supposed to sound like,” he said on Twitter Tuesday.
Read Obama’s full response on Facebook.