Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Obama condemns Trump’s end to Dreamers program

The Guardian

A demonstrator displays a placard as he marches in front of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday to protest the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Photo: Bloomberg

In an extraordinary 850-word statement, former US president Barack Obama sharply criticized US President Donald Trump’s move on Tuesday to strip protections from young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

It was Obama’s most significant foray in public life since he left the presidency. He had previously issued a brief statement, through a spokesperson, criticizing Trump’s attempted travel ban and a lengthy written statement on Republican attempts to repeal his signature healthcare law.

He also tweeted a series of quotes by former South African president Nelson Mandela after racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.

In the statement, which was posted on Facebook, Obama blasted Trump’s move to repeal the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, calling it “a political decision.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Trump administration branded DACA “unilateral executive amnesty.”

“Let’s be clear. The action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama wrote.

To be eligible for the Obama-era program, applicants needed to have arrived in the US before age 15 and before 2007. The program granted protection from deportation and made work permits available, and was billed as a way of bringing its 800,000 enrollees out of the shadow economy and recognizing their US identities.

“But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again,” Obama wrote. “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. A shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. 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?”

Obama urged the US Congress to pass legislation replacing protection for young migrants who arrived as children.

“I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel,” Obama wrote. “Ultimately, this is about basic decency.”

The White House did not have an immediate reaction.

Former US vice president Joe Biden also criticized the Trump policy, tweeting earlier on Tuesday: “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America.”

Obama suggested in the final news conference of his presidency that he might speak out if Trump sought to undo the DACA program.

“The notion that we would just arbitrarily — or because of politics — punish those kids when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves, I think would be something that would merit me speaking out,” Obama said.

The statement came days after the text of a letter Obama left for Trump on inauguration day was revealed. In the letter, Obama urged Trump to protect national institutions and act in the presidency as a caretaker of the office.

“We are just temporary occupants of this office,” Obama wrote. “That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”

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