breaking news

WATCH LIVE: Tex McIver murder trial

Get Schooled

Your source to discuss and learn about education in Georgia and the nation and share opinions and news with Maureen Downey

Trump rescinds Obama's immigrant student amnesty. Playing to his base or playing with fire?

Was President Donald Trump right to end the Obama-initiative that enabled undocumented immigrants brought here as children to attend college and work?

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the White House is eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, which President Obama signed into law in 2012.

"The program known as DACA ... is being rescinded,“ said Sessions, calling it an "overreach.”

Trump appears to be throwing the contentious question of what to do with kids brought to the United States as young children back to Congress. On Twitter this morning, he said: "Congress, get ready to do your job -- DACA!

Under DACA, immigrants who came here as children, attend school and don't have any felony convictions can qualify for renewable two-year work or school permits. Nationwide, nearly 800,000 people remain in the country due to DACA; in Georgia,  24,135 people are in the program. It appears those who have DACA now will be allowed to stay through the end of their permits.

Jeremy Redmon covered a protest Monday on immigration and wrote about the impact of Trump reversing the protections.

Among those he interviewed for the AJC story was 19-year-old Mariana Aguilar.

Asked what she would say to Trump if she could have a conversation with him, Aguilar said she would point to how she is working at Chick-fil-A, supporting her family and paying state and federal income taxes, just like U.S.-born citizens. She is also studying to become a medical assistant at Georgia Gwinnett College.

"Just give all of us a chance,” she said. "We are all equal. And we should all get the opportunity to work. We are not doing anything bad here. We are helping out the economy."

In a piece for this blog in February, a student benefiting from DACA, Jaime Rangel, wrote:

I was brought to the United States illegally when I was 6 months old; before I could walk, before I could talk, and long before I had any rights to make legal decisions of my own. I love America. I work hard, follow the rules, and because I grew up in Georgia, I speak with a southern accent. The United States is my home, and I don’t know any other - which is why it is so frightening to think that I could be facing possible deportation to a country I have never known.

I’m a student at Dalton State College, studying finance and economics. I hope someday to work in governmental affairs and work with our elected officials on policies that can help my state remain the number one state to do business. I want to help my community grow, prosper, or as Gov. Nathan Deal said recently on his state of the state “accentuate the positive, and eliminate the negative.”

But I may not get the chance.

There is a lot of debate around whether to maintain or dump DACA, including within Trump's own household. His son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly has advised Trump to maintain the program.

The New York Times reports:

Moderates, including Mr. Kushner, and the National Economic Council chairman, Gary D. Cohn, had urged the president to reach beyond his hard-right populist base to embrace a program that enjoys significant public support, even among Republicans. Business leaders, among them political allies like the media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, believe any move to limit legal immigration limits the work force and hurts the country’s international reputation.

But the moderates in Mr. Trump’s midst, Mr. Cohn in particular, are somewhat less influential these days, after several expressed their disgust at the president’s response to the racial riots in Charlottesville, Va., last month. Mr. Sessions, who has experienced his own deep freeze with Mr. Trump over the Russia investigation, has regained some of his influence, pressing Mr. Trump to end the DACA program before the courts force his hand. Mr. Miller, a former Sessions aide, has cast Mr. Trump’s actions as a key test of the president’s commitment to the economic nationalist agenda he ran on in 2016.

Your thoughts?

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.