PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Children of illegal immigrants, including nearly 6,000 in Pennsylvania, now face deportation as President Donald Trump revoked an executive order by former President Barack Obama.
“The program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday. “This is not a little matter. Ending the previous administration’s disrespect for the legislative process is an important first step.”
Sessions announced the president’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — or DACA — executive order that prohibited the deportation of those brought to this country as children.
“The Department of Homeland Security should begin an orderly, lawful wind-down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program,” said Sessions.
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Brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own, DACA kept Homeland Security from deporting them.
But many claimed Obama’s order overreached, doing something only Congress could do.
The Trump administration said no deportations would begin for six months to give Congress a chance to change the law to keep them here.
In a tweet, the president said, “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA.”
But it’s not clear Congress will act.
Congressman Keith Rothfus, a Sewickley Republican, said before DACA is addressed, the border must be secured.
“We cannot have a situation where we take a look at individuals, regardless of the merits, and if we have not fixed the border issue, we are preparing ourselves for another group of folks who would want to come in at a later date,” Rothfus told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Other local Republican congressmen were non-committal on DACA.
“Going forward, I will be examining all options before determining what Congress should specifically do,” said Congressman Mike Kelly, a Butler Republican.
“The DACA debate is an important reminder that increasing border security and enforcing immigration laws have to be top priorities,” added Congressman Bill Shuster, a Hollidaysburg Republican.
Congressman Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican, said he did not support deporting DACA children and called for a “permanent, workable legislative solution.”
“For a lot of them, this is the only country they’ve ever known,” noted Congressman Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat.
Doyle worried the Republican-controlled Congress wouldn’t act to save the young people from deportation.
“My hope is that we don’t play political games with it, especially with the lives of 800,000 young people who have been in this country for most of their lives.”
And Doyle predicted Republicans would try to add funding Trump’s border wall to any immigration bill.
“I hope they won’t play games with this and try to make this part of, you know, ‘we’ll pass this if you put funding for the wall in the bill,’” he said.
But Rothfus said the immigration issue involved more than just DACA.
“Congress needs to be acting on a number of issues related to immigration, first of which is making sure we have a secure border. That is the predicate that I would argue for any immigration reform in addition to having appropriate exit and entry system.”
No word yet if or when Congress will do anything on immigration.