WASHINGTON D.C. — Several North Carolina lawmakers have expressed support for today’s expected announcement by President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Programs. (DACA), which he inherited from President Barack Obama.
According to news reports, Trump will give Congress six months to craft a bill to replace DACA. But media accounts have also cautioned that this was the president’s thinking as of Sunday night and could shift ahead of today’s announcement.
The Trump administration had until today to decide whether to rescind the program or face a court challenge by the states.
Handing the issue over to Congress, will require Republican and Democratic representatives to decide how best to keep the nearly 800,000 people who benefit from the program from having their lives upended.
U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, who 9th District includes Scotland County, has been a critic of Obama executive order that created the “Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals” program.
According to Pittenger, who co-sponsored several pieces of legislation to block Obama’s executive orders, DACA gave Central American families the false impression of a free pass into the United States, leading to a flood of unaccompanied minors and a crisis at the border.
“DACA led many Central American parents to believe they could send their children on a dangerous journey, unaccompanied, have them smuggled illegally across the border, and the children would then be allowed to remain in the United States,” the Republican from Charlotte said.
North Carolina’s Sen. Thom Tillis, agreed, suggesting the action was unconstitutional.
“Regardless of the policy itself, DACA is an executive overreach that sets immigration policy through executive order instead of the proper channel – legislation,”Tillis said in a statement. “It’s the responsibility of Congress, not the president, to offer a long-term legislative fix.”
Rep. Mark Walker also released a statement supporting the removal of DACA.
“In 2012, President Obama acted unilaterally and illegally to create the DACA program,” he said. “Government overreach has taken our broken immigration system and made it worse. Congress should find solutions that show compassion and fairness, while upholding the rule of law.”
But Obama had always called the decision a “stop-gap” measure until a permanent fix could be found.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, said Congress should do its job.
“For all the members of Congress over the past five years who said DACA should’ve been done “legislatively” here’s your chance.” tweeted Castro, closing with the hashtag “DefendDACA.”
Tillis is said to be working with his Republican colleagues on conservative legislation that will address the long-term uncertainty facing undocumented minors by creating a fair but rigorous process for legal status. His plan would be a companion proposal to a House bill introduced by Miami Republican Carlos Curbelo.
Like Curbelo’s bill, the Tillis plan would offer an eventual path to U.S. citizenship for immigrants who entered illegally before Jan. 1, 2012, and were 16 years old or younger. The proposal would grant high school graduates without a serious criminal record conditional immigration status for a five-year period. During that time, if they earn a higher-education degree, serve in the military or stay employed, they could apply for permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship.
But a senior White House aide told Politico that John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”