Casey: ICE must leave Dreamers alone
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) disagrees with President Donald Trump's decree to dismantle DACA. Jana Benscoter
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said he's concerned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents didn't hear the White House's six-month timetable detail in reference to President Donald Trump's latest immigration decree.
Trump announced Sept. 5 that the Department of Homeland Security would begin an orderly transition and wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which started June 15, 2012, under former President Barack Obama. Trump is giving Congress six months to agree to new immigration rules.
The DACA program has allowed approximately 800,000 immigrants ages 15 to 36 who were brought to the United States by their parent and are now living in the country illegally, consideration of deferred deportation for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
Casey spoke Friday, Sept. 8, when he was visiting York City Police Department to discuss pending federal funding cuts for two law-enforcement programs.
Casey said he would propose Trump not bookend the end of the program with any time period as Congress works toward reform.
ICE roundups: Casey said Trump's latest immigration edict has young people "waking up at night worried." ICE agents, he said, are not authorized to arbitrarily "round up" DACA program recipients.
The "spirit" of the message Trump gave earlier this year, Casey said, was to "go get" immigrants living in the country illegally. He suggested that ICE agents were perceived as having been "constrained by a list of hurdles they had to overcome before they could detain someone," until Trump's initial immigration executive orders were signed earlier this year.
Now, Casey said he's concerned ICE agents could ignore Trump's six-month time frame and start rounding up DACA participants.
"We've got to make sure not just to get the policy right long-term, but to make sure folks on the ground know that there is a six-month period and can't be rounding people up just because they feel like it, " Casey said.
Trump support: Rep. Lou Barletta. R-Pa., who recently announced his intention to run for Casey's seat in the 2018 midterm elections, supports Trump's directive.
"I commend President Trump for placing a deadline on ending DACA and recognizing that decisions regarding immigration in this country rest with Congress, not the executive branch," Barletta said in a statement.
Barletta said Obama illegally granted amnesty to hundreds of thousands of people living in the country illegally, which created more competition for American workers and legal immigrants who are already finding it difficult to get work.
"American citizens or people who have come to the United States legally should not have to suffer from others butting in line after they have broken the law to enter this country," Barletta said.
Executive order: An executive order is one thing, Casey said, while working with Congress is another.
"If you have a problem with the validity of an executive order, that's one thing," Casey said, "but you should work with the Congress to pass a law to remedy that, as opposed to putting these young people at risk."
Casey added lawmakers need to work in a bipartisan manner toward a sound, long-term policy. He explained several Republicans have implied they'd meet Democrats in the middle. He specifically named Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who he said leans toward middle-ground language for those covered by DACA.
"We obviously need a number of Republicans to work with us on this side," Casey said. "I think the prospects are good that we would not only solve the problem but also give peace of mind to roughly 800,000 people."
Immigrant victory: Under DACA, young immigrants in the country illegally were eligible for work authorization and were required to pay a $495 application fee, pass background checks, get fingerprinted and turn over personal information, including their home addresses, in order to get a driver's license and gain employment. However, deferred action did not provide lawful status, according to the White House.
Barletta said Trump's announcement is a "victory for the forgotten American worker and legal immigrants who followed the rule of law to become part of our nation."
"Too often in the debate about illegal immigration, the media and politicians focus on the person who came to this country illegally," Barletta said. "No one talks about the American worker and legal immigrant whose wages are depressed and jobs are threatened by illegal immigration. I am proud to stand with those hard-working individuals and their families."