September 5, 2017 – Rob Masson
It’s a decision the U.S. attorney general says was made with compassion.
“There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives,” said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But doing away with the Obama administration policy called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is not sitting well with many. The law granted amnesty to immigrants who came to the United States as children.
Carlos Chavez is here legally, but he worries about a co-worker who could see his four children forcibly sent back to Honduras, where they might face poverty, gangs and crime.
“He’s good people, he goes to church…he’s got a good family…he’s nice,” said Chavez, who lives in New Orleans.
The fear of deportation under the proposed repeal of the DACA program will affect many in Louisiana.
“The estimates we have are about 2,000 people in Louisiana who have benefited from DACA,” said Martin Gutierrez, with Catholic Charities. His organization works with immigrant families and is not supporting DACA repeal, without overall reform. “We believe we must secure our borders, but we’ve got to deal with 11 million good individuals who have been here for years.”
Though the Trump administration’s announcement helps the president make good on a campaign pledge, it remains to be seen if it can be pushed through Congress.
“So far, Congress has not been able to get anything done, and asking them to take on immigration in this climate is difficult,” said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.
And then, there’s the expense, which the Cato institute estimates at $60 billion to the federal Treasury.
“There’s no way you can deport 11 million people,” said Gutierrez. They are part of our fabric.”
The Trump administration, though, argues that U.S. immigration law must be enforced.
“Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and if Congress chooses, to make changes to those laws,” said Sessions.
“I think a stalemate is possible, but he has punted, and there should be robust debate,” said Sherman.
Local immigrants won’t rest easy until Congress settles the issue. Many fear that the dream they came here for will no longer be attainable.
Catholic Charities has provided immigrant services in New Orleans for 40 years. They agree that immigration laws need to be changed, but they believe it should be done in a way that does not rip families apart.