HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – an Alabama native—told the country Tuesday that the DACA program was ending and the status of young immigrants brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 would now be in the hands of Congress.
The program has signed up around 800,000 people, who were able to get two-year, renewable visas beginning in 2012, to allow them to stay in the U.S. to work, go to school or serve in the military. More than 4,000 Alabama residents had obtained visas under DACA, according to reports and an estimated 15,000 people were eligible.
That sets up a fight in Congress, with some Republicans opposing the Trump Administration move, while others hailed it as the fulfillment of a campaign promise.
Sessions’ contention that the program would not stand up to court scrutiny and was outside current immigration law was echoed in statements by a number of Alabama officials today, including U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt.
“I, and I believe most Americans, are sympathetic to the children brought to this country at a young age, many only a few months old,” Aderholt said. “However, at the same time, you have to remember that the parents are responsible for the children's lack of legal status, not the government. The government has a responsibility to enforce the laws on the books.
“I believe that before passing any legislation that deals with DACA, Congress must first address border control and stopping illegal crossings at will.”
The candidates for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat on the GOP had been skirmishing on the issue over the past few days after Strange’s campaign mocked Moore for a Friday interview where he had to ask Huntsville area talk radio host Dale Jackson to tell him, who “Dreamers” are.
Moore has said he opposes immigration “amnesty” in any form, and opposes DACA. Moore also issued a statement Tuesday pledging his support for the “Raise Act” which is also supported by President Trump. The act would cut legal immigration, by reducing the number of green cards issued each year.
“When President Trump was elected last November, the voters sent a very clear message that they want true immigration reform. This means not only securing our borders to stop illegal immigration, but also rethinking our approach to legal immigration.
“I am proud to join President Trump, along with Senators Cotton and Perdue, in supporting the RAISE Act. When I am sworn in as the next Senator from Alabama, I will be signing the RAISE Act as a cosponsor.”
Strange said today he also opposes DACA and called it “unconstitutional.” He said he’d been successful as Alabama’s attorney general in helping sue to block Obama-era executive orders on immigration. He addressed the issue on FOX News, according to a campaign news release.
“We actually sued successfully to stop the Obama administration program to allow adults to stay here illegally (DAPA). I think this program is the same category – I think it's unconstitutional,” Strange said in a campaign news release. “The President makes the best point – Congress should address this issue. I’m in the camp, and maybe it’s a small camp, that [believes] we can do more than one thing at a time.
“Extraordinary measures [were already taken] in the past administration to benefit noncitizens over citizens of our count country.”
Doug Jones, who won the Democratic Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate seat, and will oppose the winner of the Republican Party runoff Sept. 26, said he supports DACA and said it should have been enacted by Congress a long time ago.
“I have been crystal clear and consistent in my support for DACA and am disappointed in President Trump's decision,” he said. “Congress should now act quickly and not leave these young people in limbo. In that regard, let me be clear it is time for Robert Bentley's appointed Senator Luther Strange to step up and do the right thing without someone pulling his strings.
“He should get to work with fellow Republicans and reach across the aisle to craft a bipartisan solution that recognizes the value and contributions that these Dreamers have made to this great and compassionate country.”
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who represents Alabama’s 5th District, did not immediately comment on the issue Tuesday. His office said Brooks was traveling. Brooks has been outspoken in his opposition to the DACA program and had called on President Trump to end the program, just days after Trump was sworn-in as President.