Butterfield slams Trump decision on DACA program

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WASHINGTON — Wilson’s Democratic congressman criticized President Donald Trump following a Tuesday announcement that the White House would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield said he’s “ saddened by President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program because it will devastate lives, tear apart families and disrupt our local communities.”

Trump is ending DACA, which allows people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the country and lawfully work, in six months. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that time allows Congress the opportunity to pass “responsible immigration reform” that will address DACA participants’ legal status.

“Today, President Trump has failed to ‘show great heart’ to the hundreds of thousands of young people whose lives are now in peril with the announcement that his administration will end the DACA program,” Butterfield said in a prepared statement.

The Wilson congressman quoted Trump’s February remarks promising a compassionate solution for “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who grew up in the U.S. after parents and relatives brought them into the country illegally in their youth.

Butterfield said all DACA participants “grew up in America, are registered with our government and have passed extensive background checks.”

More than 95 percent of those enrolled in the deferred immigration enforcement action program are in the workforce or attending school, Butterfield said.

Several bills to give undocumented immigrants a path to legal residency and citizenship have been introduced in the House and Senate including the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — or DREAM — Act, the acronym from which the term “Dreamers” is derived.

“I am an original sponsor of bipartisan immigration reform legislation that would create a path to permanent legal status for Dreamers, and I call on Speaker (Paul) Ryan to do the right thing and immediately bring it to the floor for a vote,” Butterfield said.