Lawmakers, organizations speak out after Trump's decision to end DACA

PHOTO: Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a press conference at the Department of Justice, Sept. 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.PlayABC News
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration will phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving Congress six months to arrive at a legislative solution that could protect the nearly 800,000 young people who have applied under DACA for protection from deportation.

"As president, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America," Trump wrote in a statement after Sessions announced the move. "At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws."

Immediately after the announcement, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle reacted to Trump's decision to end protections for Dreamers, as DACA enrollees are called. Many Democrats and Republicans expressed displeasure over the move, with some using it as an opportunity to reaffirm their willingness to tackle the issue legislatively. A number of organizations weighed in as well.

Some reactions to Trump's decision to end DACA.

Democrats

Former President Bill Clinton

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California

"The president's cruel and heartless decision to start deporting Dreamers in six months demands an immediate response from the Republican Congress. Speaker Ryan and the Republican House leadership must bring the Dream Act to the floor for a vote without delay," Pelosi said in a statement.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez

"Donald Trump has secured his legacy as a champion for cruelty," Perez said in a statement. "First, he took away protections for immigrant parents. Now he's going after their children. Rescinding DACA is the latest tactic in the Republican playbook to promote hate and discrimination."

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland

"We ought not turn our backs on our values — or on our fellow Americans, who are truly so because this country is their home. With this announcement, it falls to Congress to take swift action and pass the Dream Act, which would enable Dreamers to remain here with their families and communities and contribute to building, strengthening and serving the nation they love," Hoyer said in a statement.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York

“To say I am enraged is an understatement. Trump lied to Dreamers and he lied to the American people when he said Dreamers could 'rest easy.' Fearing the threat of deportation and losing your ability to work and study is not ‘resting easy’ and serves as even further proof of how the Trump administration has consistently failed the immigrant community,” Espaillat, the first formerly undocumented immigrant to be elected to Congress, said in a statement.

Espaillat added that "today’s decision significantly damages our national interests at home and abroad."

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington

Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio

Republicans

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

"President Obama's DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air. Just as the courts have already struck down similar Obama policy, this was never a viable long-term solution to this challenge. Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches," Ryan said in a statement.

"It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president's leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country," he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

“President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake," McConnell said in a statement. “This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah

"DACA was an illegal abuse of executive power, and it's important to reaffirm that the president cannot unilaterally rewrite the law," Lee said in a statement. "A balance between compassion and deterring future illegal immigration can be found."

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina

Sen. John McCain of Arizona

"President Trump's decision to eliminate DACA is the wrong approach to immigration policy at a time when both sides of the aisle need to come together to reform our broken immigration system and secure the border," McCain said in a statement. "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."

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington

"I've long said I didn't agree with the way the previous administration went about enacting DACA, but we must protect children who are already here in this country and those who are currently protected under DACA. That principle is fundamental for me," McMorris Rodgers said in a statement.

Organizations

American Civil Liberties Union

"Today is a cruel day for Dreamers, our families and all Americans. President Trump's decision to end DACA is a manufactured crisis in response to an artificial deadline from anti-immigrant leaders," Lorella Praeli, the ACLU's director of immigration policy and campaigns, said in a statement.

"There is no humane way to end DACA before having a permanent legislative fix in place. President Trump just threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families, including my own, into fearful disarray and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of workplaces and communities across America. He is using the lives of 800,000 people as pawns," she added.

Anti-Defamation League

"This action by the president and his administration is cruel, unnecessary and inconsistent with the core values of our country. We support an immigration policy that is comprehensive, protects our security, reunites families and improves our economy while honoring our values as a nation of immigrants. We support a bipartisan effort to protect these young immigrants through legislative action and renew our call on Congress to act now," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

"The original DACA program announced in 2012 was premised on sound public policy, and unlike DAPA, it was not challenged in court. Individuals enrolled in good faith and became ingrained in our communities and the nation's economy. To reverse course now and deport these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country," Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's senior vice president and chief policy officer, said in a statement.

"With approximately 700,000 DACA recipients working for all sorts of businesses across the country, terminating their employment eligibility runs contrary to the president's goal of growing the U.S. economy," he added.

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

"The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible. It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families. These youth entered the U.S. as minors and often know America as their only home," the president, vice president and committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement. "We strongly urge Congress to act and immediately resume work toward a legislative solution. We pledge our support to work on finding an expeditious means of protection for DACA youth."

Women's March