Calling it a "sad and outrageous day," Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal has called on Congress to quickly replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Blumenthal spoke to reporters shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to phase out the Obama-era program which protects undocumented youth who came to the U.S. with their parents as children from deportation and gives them a work permit.
While the president said in a statement released today that DACA is unconstitutional and unlawful, Blumenthal called the program’s demise “cruel and irrational.”
“There is no such thing as an orderly wind down of the DACA program,” Blumenthal said. “This announcement itself will cause massive uncertainty and chaos in the lives of 800,000 young people living in America, working and paying taxes, raising families, going to school, living amongst us.”
Blumenthal told reporters the decision will also affect the economy.
“Workplaces would be denied the critical expertise and skills of those DREAMers,” Blumenthal said. “That’s why tech companies, manufacturing concerns, and others have come forward to say ‘we need these people as employees.’”
Blumenthal is calling on Congress to quickly craft a bill to replace DACA, specifically The Dream Act, a bipartisan bill first introduced in 2010 that put young people in the DACA program on a path to permanent legal status. It was reintroduced earlier this summer by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
But Blumenthal warns that any amendments to such a bill, including funding for Trump's wall along the southern border of the U.S. will be a non-starter for congressional Democrats.
"The amendment to fund a wall, coast-to-coast, is in effect a poison pill," Blumenthal said, asking, "Why should American taxpayers be paying for a wall that the president promised Mexico would fund?"
Blumenthal said some 10,000 young people in Connecticut benefit from the DACA program.