Booker, Menendez Condemn Trump Decision On DACA


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Two of Verona’s three representatives to Washington have issued statements condemning President Donald Trump’s decision today to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. 

“Today’s decision is a moral catastrophe that should shake us all to the core,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). “The President of the United States has decided to tear apart hundreds of thousands of families and target hardworking young people who were brought to this country by their parents. In addition, President Trump is violating the trust that DREAMers placed in the US government when they came forward to comply with the law and apply for DACA.”

DACA was enacted by the Obama administration in 2012. It allows some immigrants who brought into the U.S. as children without proper documentation to be eligible for work permits and obtain a renewable deferment from deportation. Nearly 800,000 young people will lose protection from deportation if Congress does not give them additional protection, and 22,000 of them are in New Jersey, according to the think-tank New Jersey Policy Perspective.  DACA recipients are sometimes called DREAMers because of a 2001 bill called the DREAM Act, which would have given undocumented immigrants legal status if they went to college or joined the military. It has never passed. (Verona Superintendent Rui Dionisio, PhD, wrote a column on immigration status and the Verona public school system back in May.)

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“DREAMers are productive members of society who contribute positively to our communities and boost our economy,” Booker added. “Shutting the door of American opportunity and sending them back to countries they barely know is cruel, unjust, and flies in the face of what our country stands for.”

“Congress can and should circumvent this misguided decision by passing legislation that will protect the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers who are now facing deportation,” he said. “Congress must also act to finally fix our broken immigration system and pass comprehensive immigration reform that offers a pathway to citizenship for millions of Americans living in the shadows, keeps families together, and lives up to our highest ideals and values.”

The rebuke was similarly strong from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J), who is the highest-ranking Latino in the U.S. Congress and a national leader for immigrants’ rights.

“President Trump promised to do right by our nation’s DREAMers, but with this decision he has chosen once again to cloak his presidency with a white nationalist flag instead of the diverse fabric of our multicultural American society,” Menendez said. “By ending DACA, the Trump Administration is making a mistake of historic proportions for which our nation will pay dearly both in economic and moral capital. DREAMers are the motherhood and apple pie of the immigrant community and they’re a critical part of the solution to our many challenges as a country. Declaring open season on these model citizens – as General Kelly likes to call them – is cruel, inhumane and simply un-American.”

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“The fact is today’s announcement makes the passage of a clean DREAM Act a national emergency,” Menendez added. “Congressional Republicans find themselves at another critical junction where they can put country over party by refusing to stand on the sidelines of this president’s self-destructive behavior. Make no mistake, history is on our side and it is my sincere hope Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan allow us to swiftly vote on a bill that enshrines legal protections for our DREAMers without any unrelated provisions or poison pills. I personally worked for years to convince the Obama administration to create the DACA program and I refuse to let its beneficiaries be further victimized in the name of nativist fear mongering. Now is not the time to sit idly by hoping extremists catch up with reality; it is time for elected leaders to do our job, stand up and protect those who cannot protect themselves.”

“The story of DACA is a story I’ve come to tell with a great sense of pride and patriotism. After years of fearless advocacy, the government asked young DREAMers for their trust and faith. Since then, hundreds of thousands of DREAMers have been coming out of the shadows, passing criminal background checks, paying fees, and despite their natural human instinct for protection, voluntarily handing over personal information about themselves and their families to authorities they had been forced to hide from for most of their lives. These promising individuals trusted their government to acquire two-year renewable work permits and receive what they thought was protection from deportation. Now, half a decade since its implementation, DACA is universally accepted as an overwhelming success, a beacon of hope and an example to follow in solving our immigration challenge. And yet, here we are.”

There has been no statement from Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11) on today’s Trump decision, but he has been opposed to DACA and variants of the DREAM Act in the past. According to NJ11th For Change, which has  been compiling background on Frelinghuysen’s legislative stances during his 22 years in Congress, Frelinghuysen voted for legislation to defund DACA in 2015, even though 26 of his fellow Republicans, including three from New Jersey, voted against the bill.  In 2015 and 2016, Frelinghuysen voted against bills similar to the DREAM Act.

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Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor who has announced her intention to run against Frelinghuysen in next year’s election for the 11th Congressional district, also issued a statement slamming Trump’s decision. “Repealing DACA isn’t just un-American. It’s an attack on our economy and on our future,” Sherrill said. Deporting children would tear American families apart. It would cost us $60 billion now and $280 billion in the loss of economic job growth. New Jersey desperately needs that growth: we’re already behind the national average and are achieving far below our economic potential.”

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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