Rhode Island’s top Democratic Party leadership gathered Tuesday to denounce the actions of President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (D.A.C.A.) program, which safeguarded the rights of an estimated 800,000 immigrants who were children when they entered the United States. The news conference, according to a release, was held at the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls and led by R.I. Democratic Party Chair Joseph M. McNamara, included Governor Gina Raimondo, Lt. Governor Daniel McKee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Mayors James A. Diossa (Central Falls) and Jorge Elorza (Providence,) and two ‘Dreamers’ — Javier Juarez, a Brown University graduate student, and Rodrigo Pimental, a member of the R.I. Progressive Democrats.
“Rhode Island was founded on the principles of tolerance and diversity," said Governor Raimondo. "Throughout our history, our state has been strengthened by the contributions of immigrants. President Trump’s plan to end DACA is nothing short of cruel, and it would be a disaster for the nation’s economy. As long as I am Governor of this state, Rhode Island will stand up for the American Dream, and the Dreamers who keep it alive.”
Lt. Governor McKee said, “Here in Rhode Island, we have thousands of amazing young people who are protected by DACA, many who have only ever known Rhode Island as their home. These young people are studying, working, running small businesses, paying taxes, and building their own families. DACA protects the progress they have made and the many contributions they continue to make to the social and economic fabric of our state. Halting this program is inhumane and stands against everything Rhode Islanders stand for.”
Rhode Islanders seeking support with DACA or general immigration issues are encouraged to reach out to Progreso Latino, Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, or Roger Williams Law School Immigration Law Clinic.
“DACA children have known nothing else but this country as their home, they contribute greatly to the fabric of our community, and they deserve our protection from any attempt to undermine their rights as residents,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin on Friday. “This is one of the most heartless and immoral decisions the President has made yet. We are a nation built on the contributions of our many immigrant populations, and we are a stronger nation because of those contributions. Now the President is turning his back on children who have so much to give to this country. We cannot sit idly by as he strips DACA grantees rights they have been afforded and deserve.”
“Dreamers represent the best of the American spirit – young people going to school, working, and volunteering to build a better life. President Trump’s plan to expel these promising young people is cruel and un-American. We must all have the courage to speak out,” said Treasurer Magaziner.
“The elimination of DACA is a direct attack on the American Dream for 800,000 young people,” said Mayor Elorza. “DREAMers are Americans in virtually every way and it is deeply disheartening that they now face additional anxiety and uncertainty. Congress has the ability to bring hope back to DREAMers and we urge them to come together in a bipartisan way. We have 6 months to get the job done, let’s get to work.”
“President Trump’s decision today is going to hurt the progress of our country. Many of our kids benefitting from DACA are potential doctors, lawyers, scientists, and small business owners. They are creators, builders and innovators,” said Mayor Diossa. “The President has stopped the opportunity to make our country stronger – by having our kids paralyzed from seeking a better future.”
“DACA has affected my life drastically,” said Brown University graduate student and ‘Dreamer’ Javier Juarez. “Without DACA, I would have never been able to drive, get a decent paying job with benefits, graduate from Rhode Island College and get accepted into Brown University. Without DACA, everything that I have worked so hard for will vanish. I will continue to fight for DACA. I don’t need a set of papers to show the government that I am a stand-up citizen,” Juarez said.
Chair McNamara concluded, “It is so devastating to families and the impact it will have on them educationally and personally. These young citizens will lose the opportunity to fulfill themselves, and it will negatively impact our economic prospects for this generation.”
Editorial note: Written from a news release.