CONCORD, N.H. — President Donald Trump’s decision to dismantle a government program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is disappointing and wrong, the state’s Democratic congressional delegation said Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said then-President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” that must be revoked. New Hampshire’s Democratic members of Congress were joined by the University of New Hampshire and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in demanding that Congress fix the problem.
The Republican Trump administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution to help the group of immigrants.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said Trump’s decision to end DACA “is cruel, inhumane and completely unnecessary.”
“This decision drives hundreds of innocent Dreamers in the Granite State, and hundreds of thousands across the country, into the shadows of our society,” she said.
Fellow U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan called the move “harmful and wrong.”
“Immigration enforcement should focus on people who are criminals and threats to public safety, not young people who often have no significant connections to the countries of their births, and whose energy, hard work and innovation are vital components of our economic future,” Hassan said in a statement.
New applications will be halted for DACA, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants with a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. in the form of two-year, renewable work permits.
Democrats and Republicans called on Congress to move quickly to come up with a bipartisan solution for nearly 1,000 DACA recipients in New Hampshire.
“These are young people who were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own. They are showing their dedication and commitment to our country by pursuing higher education, working in our communities or serving our nation,” U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, said. “Penalizing the 966 New Hampshire young people who take part in this program is harmful to our local economies and denies these students, workers and veterans the opportunity to strengthen the communities they grew up in.”
Sununu agreed, saying Congress “must fix America’s broken immigration process.”
“It is my hope that the House and Senate reach a legislative solution that provides children — many of whom have never known another home besides America — certainty that they can continue to contribute to society for the years to come,” he said in a statement. “Our Country should not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.”
The University of New Hampshire defended the program and called on congressional leaders to “find a solution.” It did not provide a number of DACA students attending the university, saying it does not track them.
“We know the New Hampshire congressional delegation is supportive and we encourage them to continue their work to extend legal protections for the young people who applied for and received deferred status under DACA,” the university said.