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Former President Barack Obama: Obama Assails Trump On DACA

For the first time since leaving the White House in January, former President Barack Obama has issued a full statement in response to an action by President Trump. On Tuesday, Sept. 5, in response to Trump‘s reversal of the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), Obama issued a lengthy Facebook message. Obama expressed deep disappointment in the overturn of his June 15, 2012 executive order, which was intended to protect young adults brought illegally to the U. S. as children. Trump, calling the executive order illegal, reversed it and asked Congress to act on it with legislation, throwing the lives of more than 800,000 people into limbo. Trump claims to have “great love” for the youth who have become known as “dreamers.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, making the announcement, said, “We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws.” Obama called it a “cruel” action. He posted the following response:

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

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. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. 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. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. 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?

… Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question.

… Ultimately, this is about basic decency. 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.

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