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DACA decision stirs local reaction
White House rescinding program protecting young immigrants
Jeff Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes a statement at the Justice Department in Washington, Sept. 5, 2017, on President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump's administration will "wind down" a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, Sessions said. - photo by Associated Press

A Latina who enrolled in a class to learn English at the Hall County Adult Learning Center of Lanier Technical College in Gainesville railed Tuesday against the Trump Administration decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Maria Pichardo called the decision “awful” and said her heart goes out to those affected by the decision.

Georgia Republicans —  U.S. Sen. David Perdue and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins — issued statements in support of President Donald Trump’s action.

“Moving forward, it is imperative that any immigration proposal considered by Congress protect the interests of working Americans, including immigrants,” Perdue said. “We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past with a comprehensive immigration bill that does not work.”

Perdue added that he would be advocating that any solution legislated by the House and Senate include the provisions of immigration reform that he and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., are co-sponsoring called the RAISE Act. The legislation, which has been embraced by Trump, would cut legal immigration by 50 percent over 10 years and give preference to entrepreneurs, job creators and highly educated and skilled individuals.

Collins said Trump is righting a wrong created by President Barack Obama. DACA, a program implemented during Obama’s administration, allows young immigrants to receive a renewable two-year deferred action from deportation and get a work permit.

“Americans have always been champions of legal immigration and the rule of law,” Collins said. “President Trump’s decision to rescind (DACA) demonstrates his understanding of the law, to which we are all bound. Unfortunately, the previous administration disregarded the law in a 2012 decision that remains unconstitutional.” 

A resident of the United States for 21 years, Pichardo said a friend called her crying after learning that DACA was being rescinded. Pichardo said her friend’s daughter is a “dreamer,” a name often given to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants brought into the United States as minors.

“It’s painful to see this happen,” Pichardo said. “These young people had no say in coming to this country as children in the first place. They are not the delinquents this president makes them out to be.”

Tina Schnepper, the lead instructor at the Adult Learning Center, said there are a number of young immigrants in DACA who enroll to learn English. She said students were not talking about the DACA news during class.

Schnepper said she’s hopeful Congress will legislate a solution during the six months the Trump administration is taking to phase out DACA.

Gainesville Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said he plans to track the situation. He said city schools would continue working to “prepare all of our students regardless of their immigration status.”

“We anticipate the DACA decision to impact families we serve, and we will monitor the enrollment of our students as the legislation progresses.”

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said Congress has waited too long to act on immigration.

“I would think policy makers will finally be forced to come to grips with, and determine a fair and humane way to deal with this slice of the immigration dilemma we have avoided for 30 years,” Schofield said.

In the meantime, Schofield said district schools will follow current federal, state and local laws regarding documentation required for enrollment of children in public schools. He added that school officials are not privy to the immigration status of the students they serve.

“We will continue to follow the laws of the land and seek to provide the families in Hall County outstanding support in educating their children,” Schofield said.

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