Lansing mayor Virg Bernero called it "a moral crime" for President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA, which could lead to thousands of people being deported from the U.S.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration formally announced it will end DACA — putting an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as "DREAMers," who entered the country illegally as children.
The program was created by former President Barack Obama and benefits 6,430 people in Michigan.
WKAR News talked with mayor Bernero just hours before the formal announcement as he took part in a "Back to School" activities at Lansing's Eastern High School.
"This President sadly, has continued along that same line of division and all of the ism's that most of our leaders have stood against in modern times," said mayor Bernero. "And now for us to be going down this road of 'us and them.' Especially for our young people who did not make a choice, who did not make a rational, legal decision but were brought here one way or the other... and now have been raised as Americans and see themselves as Americans. It is a moral crime certainly what the President has done. And the road he is going down. I will stand against it."
"There was a time the American dream was open to all," said mayor Bernero. "And we need to make sure we keep that dream alive."
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urged Congress to act quickly to authorize and clarify the status of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children. The Republican governor said Tuesday many people are "working toward success" under the DACA program and Congress should act "for the certainty of their future."
Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democratic congressman from Michigan's 5th congressional district had a sharp criticism of President Trump's actions. His statement reads in part:
“DREAMers make significant contributions to our economy. Nearly all DREAMers are in the workforce or in school. Our economy stands to lose hundreds of billions of dollars annually if these individuals are deported. This is not a partisan issue; business leaders and Republicans have joined Democrats in speaking out in opposition to ending DACA.
“Congress can and must act to fix our broken immigration system, including passing legislation to protect DREAMers. I have previously sponsored legislation to provide a permanent solution for these children to stay in America, become citizens and continue contributing to our country. Speaker Ryan should immediately act on legislation protecting these children from deportation. Congress failing to act will mean that Republicans are just as much to blame as President Trump for this cruel and un-American policy.”
Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican congressman from Michigan's 6th congressional district did not criticize President Trump in his statement. He urged fellow members of congress to come up with a solution that keeps DACA members in the United States.
“For these young men and women, the United States is their home. They’ve been raised in our neighborhoods, attended our schools, served in our military, and worked in our communities. I’ve met with countless concerned individuals impacted by DACA and heard from local universities, restaurant and small business owners, as well as my farmer friends who all agree we must take care of these folks. This is why I’ve long-supported using a compassionate but accountable way to legislatively address these undocumented minors brought to our country through no fault of their own.
The Trump administration is giving Congress six months to develop a legislative fix before it stops renewing permits for people already covered.