Bernie Sanders whips up Middlebury crowd, joins in condemnation of Trump’s DACA decision

ST. ALBANS — Leading state officials in Vermont were unanimous in their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, created by his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
The program allowed children brought illegally to the U.S. by adult relatives to work and attend school legally, provided they registered with the government. Re-registration was required every two years.
The program gave a quasi-legal status to 800,000 people, including 42 Vermonters, according to Rep. Peter Welch.
Beneficiaries of DACA are often referred to as DREAMers because the never-passed DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act would have provided similar protections.
Welch pointed to the contradiction of Trump claiming “he’s got a lot of heart for the DREAMers” while also intending to send them back to countries most have few memories of.
To qualify for DACA protections, which were created in 2012, immigrants had to have been brought to the U.S. before 2007. They had to have been younger than 15 when they arrived and younger than 31 when they applied for protection under DACA.
One of the Vermont DREAMers wrote to the state’s Congressional delegation to tell them of how a family member’s battle with cancer inspired him to become a cancer researcher, said Welch. Although he became a scientist, it was Obama’s creation of DACA that allowed him to attend medical school. “Why in the world would we want to take him out of this life and send him back?” asked Welch.
Many of the DREAMers serve in the military, are employed and are raising families, noted Welch. To send them back “would be tragic and cruel.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., went further, excoriating Trump in a written statement: “After promising to show DACA recipients ‘great heart,’ the President has revealed he is as heartless as he is uninformed. We live in an unprecedented time when our President seeks to divide us, not to unite us. He rallies his dwindling supporters by exploiting fear and resentment, marginalizing those who are vulnerable and even those who risk their lives for our country and communities. It is shameful and far beneath the office he holds.
Leahy, too, spoke of the role DREAMers play in their communities, stating, “They are our friends and our neighbors. They serve our country in our armed forces and first responders, they contribute to our schools and universities, and they work and serve in our communities. DREAMers, by definition, came to the United States at no fault of their own as children. They have since played by our country’s rules and seek only the chance to contribute to America — their home, and often the only country they remember.”
The President’s actions, Leahy wrote, are a threat not only to the DREAMers, but to the very idea of the American dream. “His action, with the complicity of Attorney General Sessions, is petty and malicious and harmful in so many ways,” said Leahy.
Vermont’s other Senator, Independent Bernie Sanders, agreed with his colleagues’ assessment. During a Labor Day rally on the Middlebury town green Monday he said, “It is no secret that I disagree with Donald Trump on virtually every issue. But I have to say that his decision regarding DACA is the ugliest and most cruel decision made by a president of the United States in the modern history of this country.”   THE CROWD OF more than 500 gave particularly loud applause and cheering when Sanders announced that he would introduce a bill into Congress next Wednesday that would guarantee Medicare health insurance for all.
Independent photo/John S. McCright
In a prepared statement on Tuesday, Sanders, too, called the DREAMers “young people today who have good jobs being productive members of the economy, young people who are in school, young people who are serving the military” and spoke of the wrongness of deporting them from “the only country that they can remember.”
All three members of Vermont’s delegation spoke of the importance of Congress acting to protect the DREAMers.
“It’s our job,” said Welch. “We should do it.”
“It’s a legitimate challenge from the president to us,” he said.
DACA was created because “Congress sat on its hands and did nothing about immigration reform,” said Welch.
However, he added, the President “also has a job and that’s to propose a solution … It’s an abdication of leadership responsibility if you don’t present a fix.”
Welch said the Democrats are on board with providing a solution for DREAMers, as are some Republicans. He indicated he is committed to working with his colleagues to find a solution.
“Our job now in Congress is to move as quickly as we possibly can to rally the American people and to pass legislation repealing Trump’s horrific decision,” said Leahy. “I hope the American people will stand with us as we go forward in protecting these 800,000 young people.”
Sanders noted some Republicans in Congress have already criticized the DACA decision.
“But their words ring hollow if they are not ready to act upon them. Democrats stand ready to protect DACA recipients and to fix our broken immigration system … It is long past time for the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House to demonstrate the courage and leadership that the President so clearly lacks.”
Gov. Phil Scott, the state’s ranking Republican, said he hoped Congress would take action.
“It’s unfortunate the President has chosen to end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which now leaves it in the hands of Congress for legislative action. The young people who will be affected have known no other home than the U.S., and DACA has given many of them important academic opportunities that further their ability to contribute to our communities, and our nation,” Scott said in a written statement. “Immigrants have historically had a very positive impact in our country, and in Vermont, and their contributions continue today.”
The state’s attorney general, T.J. Donovan, joined with 14 other states and D.C. to challenge Trump’s actions as a violation of due process for DACA participants. 

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