BOISE — Idaho Republicans on Tuesday praised the Trump administration’s plans to phase out federal protections for people brought to the United States illegally as children.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and nine other Republican state attorneys general were among the plaintiffs threatening to sue the federal government if the Trump administration didn’t revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy by Tuesday. This lawsuit threat drove the timing of Trump’s announcement that DACA will be revoked in six months. The suit is being dropped now due to the announcement, said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was leading the effort.
Wasden said in a statement that he believes it was unconstitutional for former President Barack Obama to establish DACA by executive order but that Congress should do something.
“The root of this entire issue is Congress’s failure to pass a law that takes into account the needs of everyday families, especially those families whose ties cross international borders,” Wasden said. “This announcement from the administration paves the way for our federal lawmakers to finally step up and deal with this very important issue once and for all.”
Otter praised U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “recognition of the constitutional problems” with DACA and said he supports phasing it out “in a way that will minimize the impact on current DACA beneficiaries.
“In the meantime, I call on Congress to redouble its efforts to restore the effectiveness of and public confidence in our nation’s immigration system,” he said.
News came out over the weekend that Trump had decided to end DACA. On Tuesday, he called on Congress to do something to replace the program, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested Trump wants legislation to make larger changes to immigration policy as well as addressing what will happen to the 3,100 people in Idaho and 800,000 nationwide who are now shielded from deportation through DACA. This approach pleased U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who has sponsored legislation to expand immigration enforcement.
“I applaud President Trump for respecting the Constitution and keeping a campaign promise,” Labrador said. “Through his action today, President Trump is creating leverage for larger immigration reform, which should include border wall funding and stronger interior enforcement. As chairman of the Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee, I will continue working with my colleagues and the Administration on fixing all aspects of our broken immigration system.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho denounced Trump’s announcement and called on Congress to “bring about permanent security and stability to the lives of DACA recipients and their loved ones.” The ACLU said DACA was a lifeline for immigrants who came here as children, highlighting the story of a young man in the Idaho Falls area who was brought here as a 2-year-old.
“Today’s action is akin to putting Jorge back in the cage as his future is uncertain as a result of President’s Trump action,” the ACLU said. “Our country is stronger when we embrace the challenges of the broken immigration system and work toward sensible reform that lifts the lives of every person, regardless of where one was born.”
U.S. senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch reiterated their belief that Obama’s DACA executive order was unconstitutional and said Congress should deal with the issue.
“There is urgent need for Congress to enact rational, comprehensive immigration policy,” Crapo said in a statement. “To ensure widespread confidence and long-term sustainability, reforms must be done through a public process that includes the American people, Congress, and the administration. Today’s announcement by the administration returns the decision-making for immigration policy, including the DACA program, to the people’s representatives in Congress for action.”
“There’s no question that our immigration laws need to be addressed, including the issue of children being brought to the U.S. illegally, but those reforms must go through the appropriate legislative process,” Risch said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson’s office didn’t answer requests for comment.