Maui News

Hawaii AG Urges Trump to Support Childhood Immigrant Arrivals

July 23, 2017, 7:18 AM HST
* Updated July 23, 7:24 AM
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Attorney General Doug Chin joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 18 attorneys general in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain and defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

77 candidates representing 26 countries were sworn in as new American citizens during a 2016 naturalization ceremony at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.

In the letter, the attorneys general explain how DACA has benefited their states and the nation as a whole and call on the President to fulfill his public commitment to “Dreamers.”

Attorney General Chin said, “I am the son of immigrants. Hawaiʻi is the most diverse state in our country – a nation founded by immigrants. A legal process has been established to ensure the almost one million Dreamers under DACA can stay in the United States and continue contributing to our country. Rescinding DACA would be senseless, cruel, and self-defeating.”

Since DACA’s inception five years ago, nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to this country as children have been granted DACA status after paying application fees, submitting to and passing background checks and applying for work permits. In Hawaiʻi, approximately 2,000 people are eligible for DACA status.

Friday’s letter to President Trump states:

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“Mr. President, now is the time to affirm the commitment you made, both to the ‘incredible kids’ who benefit from DACA and to their families and communities, to handle this issue ‘with heart.’ You said Dreamers should ‘rest easy.’ We urge you to affirm America’s values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it. The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people. For these reasons, we urge you to maintain and defend DACA, and we stand in support of the effort to defend DACA by all appropriate means.”

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The letter refutes arguments set forth by those opposing DACA and threatening litigation, saying they are wrong as a matter of law and policy and urges the President not to capitulate to their demands.

The letter further states:

“DACA is consistent with a long pattern of presidential exercises of prosecutorial discretion … DACA sensibly guides immigration officials’ exercise of their enforcement discretion and reserves limited resources to address individuals who threaten our communities, not those who contribute greatly to them. Challenges have been brought against the original DACA program, including in the Fifth Circuit, but none have succeeded.”

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“On the other hand, in a case relating to Arizona’s efforts to deny drivers’ licenses to DACA recipients, the Ninth Circuit stated that it is “well settled that the [DHS] Secretary can exercise deferred action.” Ariz. Dream Act Coalition v. Brewer, 855 F.3d 957, 967-968 (9th Cir. 2017). The court also observed that “several prior administrations have adopted programs, like DACA, to prioritize which noncitizens to remove.”

Joining Attorneys General Chin and Becerra in sending the letter are attorneys general from: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

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