DENVER – Reaction from Colorado’s members of Congress and other state government officials to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program started pouring in shortly after Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday morning.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security formally rescinded the Obama-era policy, which has protected around 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and Sessions put the ball in Congress’ court to make a formal legislative policy. President Obama resorted to using an executive action to implement the policy after Congress failed to pass a measure.
Most of Colorado’s members of Congress said that the House and Senate needed to act quickly to get a formal measure done. (Statements are presented in the order in which they were received by Denver7, with DeGette's coming first.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (D)
“The announcement that President Trump is ending DACA is a crushing blow to the 800,000 DREAMers nationwide, including more than 17,000 in Colorado,” DeGette said. “When President Obama established the program in 2012, he made a promise to DREAMers that America would help provide a pathway to citizenship that allows them to remain vital members of our communities. Although #DACA may not be the means used to achieve this objective, its spirit remains stronger than ever.
“I am urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to put legislation on the House floor that gives these young men and women the chance to achieve their American dream, such as the bipartisan Dream Act. Let’s work together to do the right thing and keep our promise. DACA is far from done.”
Sen. Michael Bennet (D)
"Today's announcement is a devastating betrayal for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have used the security of DACA status to receive an education, pursue careers, and safely put down roots in their communities," Bennet said.
"This decision is the height of cruelty: It's an attempt to score political points by separating families and disrupting schools and workplaces. The President has revealed his priorities and values; in response, bipartisan leaders in business, education, and local government around the country have spoken up in defense of DACA. Congress must work together to find a legislative solution to protect DREAMers."
Rep. Scott Tipton (R)
“President Obama circumvented the Constitution when he unilaterally created the DACA program without going through the legislative process. Today’s announcement by Attorney General Sessions shows this administration’s commitment to the rule of law. While I do not support the unilateral DACA program, I believe Congress must act to develop a compassionate and commonsense solution for the children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents. These individuals have grown up in the United States and are now upstanding, valued members of our communities. They should not be punished for a decision that was made by their parents years ago.”
Rep. Jared Polis (D)
“Today I am outraged that more than 17,000 Coloradans, who I consider my fellow Americans, got the news that their lives have dramatically altered by a callous and short-sighted decision of our president. By ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Trump has cast nearly one million aspiring Americans back into the shadows,” said Polis.
“The situation is dire. These aspiring Americans belong here, and they should have the ability to use their talents and pursue their dreams. I have had the honor of meeting and getting to know inspiring dreamers like Oscar, a dreamer who attended President Trump’s first State of the Union with me and wants to serve his country in our military if only we will let him; and Brithany, a CSU student who is active in her community by working as a nurse assistant in a dementia ward; as well as many many other dreamers who I will advocate for in Congress. It is past time for Congress to rise to the occasion, and do its job by creating a permanent solution to help this population, and that is why I will continue to advocate for the American Hope Act or other legislation to create a permanent way out of the shadows for Brithany, Oscar, and so many others whose stories are just as inspiring.”
Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D)
“The Trump Administration’s decision to end DACA is disgraceful. We are a nation of immigrants and a nation of opportunity but the administration has pulled the rug out from under these folks leaving them with the fear of being separated from their family and the only life they’ve ever known.
“Terminating this program goes against our values as a country and only panders to a narrow group of the President’s base supporters. It will also have a disastrous impact on our economy. Nearly 800,000 DREAMers, including 17,000 in Colorado, have benefitted from this program and are employed or getting an education. The loss of this program equates to a loss of roughly 700,000 jobs and billions in economic output. These individuals are our friends, neighbors, classmates and colleagues, and they contribute to and enrich our society every day.
“President Obama signed the Executive Order authorizing the DACA program largely because Congress wasn’t acting on comprehensive immigration reform. I strongly disagree with President Trump’s decision to end this program but it is now more important than ever that Congress acts quickly to protect these individuals.”
Sen. Cory Gardner (R)
“I have long said that we need to have a legislative solution to fix our broken immigration system – this also includes children living in this country without documentation who were brought here by no fault of their own. I’m currently working with my colleagues in Congress about the next legislative steps we can take to ensure these children continue to have the opportunity to be in this country. We are in this situation today because the program was created through executive action by the previous administration instead of through Congress. We now have the opportunity to fix this issue through the legislative process.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
"Colorado has always been a place where people can determine their destiny. The DACA program provides thousands of young people the opportunity to do just that. President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program unnecessarily jeopardizes the futures of more than 17,000 Coloradans. We strongly encourage Colorado’s congressional delegation to support the passage of the Dream Act, ensuring that Dreamers can continue making contributions to the only country they’ve ever called home. We will not turn our back on these young people and neither should our country."
Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock
“There are 800,000 youth living in the United States that know no other country but this one. They didn’t choose to be here, but they are here – contributing to this country and making good on the opportunity to pursue the American dream. Ripping them from the only home and life they’ve ever known is a cruel action unbefitting of this great nation. If the President chooses to forfeit his moral leadership with this heartless attempt to score political points, then it’s up to the House of Representatives and Senate to show all Americans that we can still govern with compassion. It’s time for a bipartisan action to protect our DACA youth, and I urge all members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to support that legislation.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R)
"After eight years of the Obama administration dismantling our immigration laws, I’m encouraged by the President’s commitment to cracking down on illegal immigration, securing our borders, and reversing the unconstitutional DACA program. I have always opposed any type of amnesty and will continue to do so. But I also want to find meaningful solutions to this difficult problem, solutions that uphold the rule of law, protect our country, and ensure fairness in our immigration processes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate over the next six months to achieve these objectives and fix our broken immigration system."
Rep. Ken Buck (R)
“We’re a nation of laws, and our immigration system must reflect that principle. I opposed President Obama’s DACA action because I believed it was wrong and unconstitutional, that ultimately Congress has the responsibility to craft our nation’s immigration laws. President Trump made the right choice by giving Congress time to pass legislation that secures our border from future illegal immigration while also addressing issues like DACA.”
Rep. Mike Coffman (R)
"I've met many of these young people in Colorado who were brought to the United States as children and who grew up here, who went to school here and who often know of no other country. The DACA program that has given them an opportunity to come out of the shadows, legally work, and pursue higher education," said Coffman.
He on Tuesday introduced a discharge petition for the Bridge Act, which he is sponsoring. The petition would force a House vote on the bill, which would extend DACA protections for three years.
"I see the discharge petition as a way to bring legislation to the floor should Republican leadership fail to allow a floor vote on a bill to protect these young people," said Coffman.
This story will be updated throughout the day as more reaction comes in.