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Arizona lawmakers react to Trump’s decision to end DACA program

PHOENIX — Arizona lawmakers have offered mixed reactions and solutions after the Trump administration put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Tuesday.

The program, also known as DACA, granted a two-year protection from deportation and a temporary work permit to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Nearly 800,000 people have been affected.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement on Tuesday  just days after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump would end DACA protections, but with a six-month delay to allow Congress to decide whether it wants to write legislation to protect the so-called DREAMers.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Trump’s decision proved that executive orders were meant to be temporary and a permanent solution was needed.

“Congress must act immediately to pass permanent, stand-alone legislation to lawfully ensure that children who were brought here by their parents, through no fault of their own, are able to stay and finish their education and continue to contribute to society,” he said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement shortly after the announcement, “While I disagreed with President Obama’s unilateral action on this issue, I believe that rescinding DACA at this time is an unacceptable reversal of the promises and opportunities that have been conferred to these individuals.”

In an opinion piece written last week in The Washington Post, he said Congress does not answer to Trump.

“We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people,” McCain wrote.

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) told KTAR last week that ending DACA will have a “huge impact” on Arizona’s workforce and will send people with “real talent” to different countries.

“There are thousands of Arizona young people who came here as children, who got great educations and are now contributing to our local economy. It would be a real shame to miss out on that,” she said.

U.S. Rep Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a statement Tuesday, “While we fight to restore DACA, secure citizenship for the Dreamers, and pass comprehensive immigration reform, the very least that Speaker (Paul) Ryan can do would be to allow a simple up-or-down vote on my amendment to protect them from deportation while Congress seeks a solution.”

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran called the end of the program “callous and detrimental to America’s future” that will cause “real harm to countless families,” adding that Congress must pass a bipartisan bill for immigration reform.

“I am disappointed that the president is unable to see the good that this program has done for the lives of these young people and our economy,” he said in a press release. “Now more than ever, Congress must act.”

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Trump’s decision put the immigration ball firmly in Congress’ hands, which needs to act on it.

“I think it’s time that we get this resolved,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News just before the announcement.

“We’ve been battling this now for over 30 years, when President Reagan did his amnesty did his back in 1986 and never secured the borders.”

Brewer said Congress’ failure to pass immigration reform has not worked well for anyone, including those in the DACA program.

“I can’t imagine what all these 800,000 DACA recipients are feeling,” she said. “They’re living lives that are not desirable. The majority of us, we have no idea how they deal with it day in and day out but we also are a country of laws.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich agreed with Brewer, saying a permanent solution was required. He also said protesters should focus their efforts on lawmakers, not agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement whose job is to follow laws.

“You can’t blame the people that are enforcing the law,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes. “You have to blame the people who are making the law … Congress has no excuse.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the decision to remove DACA cruel.

“This decision aims to tear students, neighbors and friends away from their families, away from a country that they are making greater through their contributions, and away from the only home they know,” he said in a statement.

“DREAMers make Phoenix and our country stronger. Their fight is our fight. They are being used as political pawns by Donald Trump. That’s just wrong.”

Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said the program was “very valuable” and was “important for kids to have an opportunity to be a part of the community.”

Phoenix Councilman Daniel Valenzuela said the young immigrants have boosted the state’s economy, education level and community-at-large.

“The thought that the program would go away, brings fear to those who are not only directly involved but to those of us who understand how important this is for all of us at large,” he told KTAR.

The Marciopa County Democratic Party said it was not surprised to hear about Trump’s decision because he does not care for the little person.

“As a descendant of immigrants, my heart aches for my family, friends, and neighbors this decision will tear apart,” Executive Director Miguel Medrano said in a press release.

Arizona State University President Michael Crow said on Monday that the university would follow the law but within it will do everything to help educate students, “regardless of the circumstances that brought them to this country.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said Trump’s decision showed there was a need for immigration reform.

“The end of DACA creates a new urgency to pass a clean, standalone, and bipartisan Dream Act that addresses Dreamers’ renewed vulnerability to deportation,” Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, said in a statement.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Glenn Hamer said the decision to end DACA removed billions of dollars from the nation’s economy.

“Today’s announcement was made without wisdom and without compassion,” he said in a statement. “Congress needs to act with urgency and advance a policy for the DACA-eligible population that is consistent with American values.”

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