Alaska delegation reacts to Trump’s suspension of DACA

On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government will end a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in six months.

Begun in 2012 by President Obama, DACA simply states that people who came to the United States illegally as children long ago can stay in the only country they’ve ever known.

The Trump Administration’s decision has implications in Alaska.

According to the progressive policy group Center for American Progress, 138 Alaskans are covered under the program. Eight hundred thousand people are included nationwide and are known collectively as Dreamers.

In a message sent to newspapers across the state Tuesday, the bishops of the Catholic Church in Alaska said they “remain united in heart and mind … in condemning the Administration’s decision today to suspend DACA.”

The message went on to state that “Congress must now act to correct this inhuman disrespect of our brothers and sisters in the one family of God.”

The administration’s decision puts their fate in the hands of Congress, which now has six months to come up with legislation to address an issue that Obama solved with an executive order and which Trump has now revived with another.

What does Alaska’s Congressional delegation think?

All three members said they think there’s room for Congress to Act.

“Going forward, in addition to securing our border, it is important to keep in mind that the beneficiaries of the DACA program came to our country as children through no fault of their own. Most are hardworking, law-abiding members of our communities, including hundreds in Alaska. I intend to work with Republicans and Democrats to address these particular immigration cases through legislation both with compassion and a respect for the rule of law,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, in a prepared statement.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said by email, “I have a firmly held principle that we should not punish children for the actions of their parents. I believe those who were brought to this country by their parents, raised here, educated here, lived here, and dreamed here, should be welcomed to stay here. They should have the right to work and a path to citizenship. That is why I have consistently cosponsored legislation to provide those things, and am heartened to see so many diverse voices supporting a legislative solution for the Dreamers. I am ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to provide a legal, certain path forward for these children of our friends and neighbors.”

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in his statement that he believes “it’s Congress’ responsibility to address our nation’s broken immigration system, including the legal status of those who were brought to our nation through no fault of their own. Regardless of your viewpoint on the underlying policy, all Americans’ should agree these decisions need to be made by Congress and not by the executive branch.”

The U.S. House and Senate return to session this week after their August recess.

Contact reporter James Brooks at 523-2258 or james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com.

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