WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League issued a statement saying it was “deeply disappointed” by President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that his administration was taking steps to end the Delayed Action on Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA, which was initiated with an executive order from President Obama, protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.
Although Trump’s announcement had been anticipated in recent days, it still left young people covered by the DACA program reeling.
JACL’s statement read, “As a nation we have always prided ourselves on protecting the innocent.
“In this case, we have failed the children who were brought to this country by their parents, have created full lives as Americans, and have done nothing wrong as they fulfilled their parents’ dreams.
“To take away these children’s dreams is especially cruel and vicious.”
Trump didn’t specify what he wanted done, essentially sending a six-month time bomb to his fellow Republicans in Congress who have no consensus on how to defuse it.
On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump wrote: “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!’”
Citing the “unnecessary chaos” the DACA repeal would create, JACL added that, “America will experience significant losses to the economy. The cost of workforce replacement alone is estimated will cost American businesses $3.4 billion in turnover costs. The overall impact to the economy is estimated to be $460.3 billion in lost GDP over the next 10 years.
“This disruption and chaos the repeal of DACA will create is reminiscent of when 120,000 Japanese Americans were uprooted from their communities, homes, and businesses during World War II and placed in concentration camps.”
Under the phase-out plan announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Homeland Security was halting acceptance of new applications under DACA as of Tuesday.
People with permits set to expire between now and March 5, 2018, will be able to re-apply as long as their applications are submitted by Oct. 5. Existing permits will remain in effect, and applications already in the pipeline will be processed.
Obama slammed the decision as “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it “a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people in communities across America.”
Some Republicans objected, too.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Trump was taking “the wrong approach,” and he added: “The federal government has a responsibility to defend and secure our borders, but we must do so in a way that upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.”
In its statement, the JACL also said, “We are a nation of immigrants, all with the dream of building a better life, both individually and for our country. We urge the Congress to find common ground in preserving the American dream, and pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.”
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)