With the fate of more than 200,000 Texan undocumented immigrants at stake, members of the Texas Border Caucus are pushing back on the Texas Attorney General and nine other states who urged the Trump Administration to end a program meant to shield them from deportation.
A month after Ken Paxton and officials from nine other states requested in a letter to the Trump Administration to put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, members of the Texas House Border Caucus sent off a letter of their own Monday addressed to Paxton asking him to reconsider his and the state’s position on the program.
The program, put in place by the Obama administration in 2012 to allow undocumented persons who were brought to the country as children to remain here legally, currently helps nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants nationally — with 234,350 applications accepted in Texas alone, according to the latest data from U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services.
DACA applies to undocumented immigrants that came to the country before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger as of June 2012.
In Paxton’s letter, addressed to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Texas Attorney General requested the Trump Administration “phase” out the program.
“Specifically, we request that the Secretary of Homeland Security rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and order that the Executive Branch will not renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future. This request does not require the Executive Branch to immediately rescind DACA or Expanded DACA permits that have already been issued,” the letter states.
Attorneys General from Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia also signed the letter.
In the response letter, Texas House Border Caucus members expressed disappointment in Paxton’s position on the protected group.
“DACA is a program that provides an incredible measure of stability to the lives of its recipients. It has helped thousands of young, hardworking, Texans contribute to their communities, continue their education, and help fuel our state’s growing economy,” the letter reads.
Rep. Cesar J. Blanco, D-El Paso, Chair for the Texas House Border Caucus, said his group is dedicated to standing alongside the undocumented youth in the state, claiming that the state’s GDP would suffer losses of more than $6 billion yearly.
“I am deeply disappointed that our state’s AG has decided to lead the charge against the DACA program – a policy designed to protect innocent children,” Blanco said in a release. “These views and the current litigation that resulted from SB 4 give the appearance that our state’s leaders are determined to push undocumented immigrants and their children back into a state of uncertainty and fear.”
State Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, a member of the caucus, echoed Blanco’s sentiments.
“I don’t believe it’s the child’s fault for having to cross over. I think the children are trying to better themselves, and for the AG to come out and ask the president to remove the policy — that either he does remove it or he’ll sue — is wrong and counterproductive,” Martinez said. “It starts changing what our values are, and once we start changing our values, it becomes un-American. We need to be steadfast and not allow our AG to remove these policies that do not have an adverse effect on our communities.”
Abraham Diaz, a member of La Union Del Pueblo Entero, or LUPE, a local immigrant advocacy group, characterized Paxton’s letter as a “hateful attack” on immigrants.
“The demands by Attorney General Ken Paxton’s would only further contribute to Gov. Greg Abbott’s discriminatory agenda, which is why we deserve to know whether Ken Paxton’s letter is an extension of Abbott’s policy,” Diaz said in a prepared statement. “Meanwhile actions against DACA and the attack on immigrant communities have not stood in the way of bipartisan efforts. The introduction of bipartisan legislation in Congress to protect dreamers is more evidence of the widespread support for immigrant youth. Permanent protection for dreamers makes sense. In contrast, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to strip 800,000 immigrant youth of work permits and protection from deportation is misguided and cruel.”
Staff Writer Michael Rodriguez contributed to this report