SAN DIEGO -- California lawmakers weighed in Tuesday after the Trump administration announced the end of DACA -- a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the move "a deeply shameful act of political cowardice."
Sen. Kamala Harris said she will fight to ensure Dreamers can stay in the country they call home."
San Diego's congressional Democrats were also quick to condemn the decision. Rep. Susan Davis said by ending DACA, the president ignores the economic impact 'Dreamers' have in our country.
"He has not only put them at risk, but our economy at risk as well. While it’s sad that Trump is siding with the worst elements of his administration, it’s not surprising given his past rhetoric on immigration," Davis said in a statement.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) applauded the decision to rescind the Obama DACA policy.
"When President Obama unilaterally created DACA, he unlawfully overstepped his executive authority and only put a temporary Band-Aid on a problem which prolonged uncertainty for many children brought here through no fault of their own," Issa wrote in a statement. "I’m eager to get to work on a permanent fix and call on Democrats and Republicans alike to immediately put political posturing aside and let this be a catalyst to achieve long-overdue reforms in this important area of concern."
Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) slammed the Trump administration's DACA decision, calling it "cruel" and "un-American."
"Expelling hundreds of thousands of people who have known no home but the United States makes us weaker and diminishes our standing in the eyes of the world," he said in a statement.
Peters estimated that 38,000 people in San Diego County are eligible for DACA, and he called on Congress to act quickly to pass a law to protect them from deportation.
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) released a statement accusing Trump of breaking the country's promise to 800,000 DREAMers to advance his anti-immigrant agenda.
"By terminating DACA, President Trump is undermining a successful program and ignoring bipartisan efforts to support DREAMe," Vargas wrote. "Congress must act and pass legislation that will protect these young people from a President who is attempting to put an end to their American dream."
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a call to Congress to act in favor of DACA, stating the "young men and women here under DACA - many who are living in the only country they have ever known - are students, innovators, business owners and veterans who enrich our county and contribute to our economy and our culture."
Two key state Republican leaders wrote that the decision to end the DACA program made it imperative that Congress pass permanent protections for undocumented young people.
"It is imperative that Congress pass a lasting legislative solution that will ensure that 800,000 young people, who have done nothing wrong, can continue to pursue their educations, careers and contributions to our great nation," state Senate Republican leader Patricia Bates wrote.
State Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes also called on Congress to prevent the deportation of residents illegally brought to this country as children.
"Much like the children of the immigrants who built this country, these children followed their parents to America and to send them home would mean sending them to a country they’ve never known," Mayes wrote. "These are our neighbors. They attend our schools, they speak English, they pay taxes and they played by the rules."
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, called the DACA action "hateful," "vicious," "cruel" and "disgusting."
"My heart breaks for the hundreds of thousands of people who are now forced to cope with this living nightmare," said Gonzalez, whose district is heavily Hispanic. "I can only pray Congress musters some basic human decency and prevents this horrific policy from becoming reality."
Gonzalez's husband, Nathan Fletcher, a former assemblyman now running for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, tweeted a Facebook post from a Dreamer who worked as an intern in his wife's office.
"In 2012, the Obama administration kept my dreams alive. With the DACA program I was able to work and attend school at UCSD," Heidi Martinez wrote.
She said that three years later, she "graduated and was able to find an amazing job helping and raising awareness for deported veterans," calling those deportations "another injustice our government is a part of."
"Since January I have been living in fear," Martinez wrote. "In fear of a president who does not understand what immigrants offer to America ... He can build a wall, but our contributions to American society cannot be erased ... Trump can decide to end DACA and with it the dreams of thousands of hard- working immigrants. It will be Congress' time to stand up and fight. We must all keep persisting. I was not born in America, but I am as American as anybody. America is my home."
She ended her post with hashtags that have become an online rallying cry for "Dreamers" and their supporters: "I am heretostay; IstandwithDACA."
San Diego-area colleges and universities have been strong supporters of DACA -- San Diego State University administrators addressed an open letter to Trump over the weekend urging him to reconsider his decision to end the program -- and Tuesday was no different.
Constance Carroll, the chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, called it a sad day, especially since DACA provided youth with educational opportunities. She said Dreamers were among the "best and highest achieving students" at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, and the Continuing Education campus.
"Nationally, many are earning graduate degrees and are already giving back to their communities through services, expertise and taxes," Carroll said. "This country is the only country they know and deporting them would be a horrible injustice."
The San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium, Alliance San Diego and Ready Now San Diego planned to hold a rally in support of DACA at 6 p.m. at the County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway.
California Democratic Party Chair Eric C. Bauman called the decision an 'assault on common sense.'
"This is a spiteful and hurtful decision that will result in enormous human suffering for our entire country, not just the 'Americans-in-all-but-name' who now face the threat of deportation and separation from their families. This is not who we are as a country, and California Democrats are and will remain united in our opposition to Trump's assault on immigrants."
The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business community and education community at large has joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US.
In a statement after his agencies and attorney general announced the decision, President Donald Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for creating the program through executive authority and urged Congress to come up with a solution.
"It is now time for Congress to act!" he said.
McCain, Flake oppose the end of DACA
Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake were among the first lawmakers to announce their opposition Tuesday to the Trump administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a decision that divides GOP members of Congress.
"President Trump's decision to eliminate DACA is the wrong approach to immigration policy at a time when both sides of the aisle need to come together to reform our broken immigration system and secure the border," McCain said in a statement. "I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know."
McCain also said in the statement he plans to work with other lawmakers to pass legislation on immigration reform.
"I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to devise and pass comprehensive immigration reform, which will include the DREAM Act," he said.
Flake, whom President Donald Trump has publicly feuded with recently, said in a tweet thread that it's now up to lawmakers to save "innocent kids counting on Congress to do its job."
"It should be evident from the fear and confusion surrounding #DACA that executive actions have a short-shelf life and are a poor substitute for permanent, bipartisan legislation to fix our broken immigration system," he wrote in a set of tweets. "The ball is back in Congress' court where it belongs, and there are a lot of innocent kids counting on Congress to do its job."