DACA program for young immigrants becomes heated issue in Alabama U.S. Senate race

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - - The Trump Administration’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program means the program’s future will likely be decided by Congress. And it’s become an issue in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race.

Current U.S. Sen. Luther Strange’s campaign has attacked his GOP runoff opponent Roy Moore over remarks last week in an interview on the issue. Moore appeared unfamiliar with the DACA program during an interview with Huntsville-based talk radio host Dale Jackson.

The DACA program was established by President Obama in 2012 and gave people who were brought into the U.S. as children by undocumented parents the ability to apply for two-year visas to continue to go to school, work or serve in the military. The young people in that legal status have been nicknamed “Dreamers.”

Obama’s order – which the Department of Justice announced Tuesday was being rescinded – applied to young people who were 16 or younger when they brought to the U.S . and were under 31 on June 15, 2012 and met other criteria. About 800,000 people have applied for the visas and subsequent renewals, including an estimated 4,000 in Alabama.

Strange, who has been endorsed by President Trump in the U.S. Senate race, has hewed tightly to the administration’s positions. His campaign say he opposes DACA and agrees with President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the need for an immigration policy based on the “rule of law.”

His campaign quickly put together an ad late last week after an interview Moore gave on the Dale Jackson Show  on WVNN. The ad uses a portion of the interview, and the Strange campaign says it shows Moore is “indifferent at best,” or at worst, “completely confused” on the DACA issue.

Here’s an excerpt from the ad:

Dale Jackson: “You’re not aware of what Dreamers are?”

Roy Moore: “No.”

Dale Jackson: “Dreamers are … this is a big issue in the immigration debate, dreamers are …”

Roy Moore: “Why don’t you tell me what it is Dale? Quit beating around and tell me what it is.”

Roy Moore

Moore’s campaign sent WHNT News 19 a statement Monday regarding the DACA program.

“I oppose the DACA program,” Moore said in the statement. “I support President Trump, as he works towards ending DACA and overhauling our failed immigration system. We must enforce our immigration laws, and send every potential immigrant through the same thorough vetting process.

“I support ending this program and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants in any form."