Sen. Dick Durbin slammed President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Tuesday, recalling a time when Trump promised him he would “take care of” the undocumented immigrants that the initiative protects.
“In my first conversation with President Trump on Inauguration Day, I thanked him for the positive things he had said about the Dreamers,” Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, said in a statement. “He looked me in the eye and said: ‘Don't worry. We are going to take care of those kids.’”
“Despite many of the terrible immigration policies this Administration has put forward, I have always held out the hope that President Trump would keep his work and ‘take care’ of the Dreamers. After all, the President told America, ‘we love the Dreamers,’” his statement continued. “But today’s announcement from Attorney General Sessions was cold, harsh, threatening, and showed little respect, let alone love, for these Dreamers.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the program that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors from deportation Tuesday, saying the Department of Homeland Security will phase it out over the next six months – giving lawmakers a short window of time in which to act.
Former President Barack Obama created DACA through an executive order in 2012 as a stopgap measure to protect the so-called “Dreamers” who remained vulnerable to deportation after Congress failed several times to come together and pass immigration reform.
Durbin was the initial chief Democratic sponsor of the DREAM Act in 2001, and once again called on his colleagues to join him in supporting a legislative measure to protect young undocumented immigrants.
“Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people—students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers, and more,” Durbin said. “Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately.”
“I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they’ve ever known,” his statement ended. “Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait.”
Trump said Tuesday after the announcement that he has "great love" for those covered by DACA, and that he hoped Congress will act.