President Donald Trump might soon eliminate a program that protects people who illegally entered the country as minors–a possible decision one major union claims is driven by a white supremacist agenda.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protects certain illegal immigrants who came to the country as minors. The immigrants are able to remain in the country for two year periods that can be renewed. Former President Barack Obama implemented the initiative in 2012.
President Trump has been reportedly looking to axe the program outright. Labor unions were quick to respond by denouncing the possible decision as harmful. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) added the possible decision is driven by a racist agenda.
“With one stroke of the pen, ending DACA would crush the hopes and dreams of nearly 800,000 young people who today are able to live here lawfully, go to school, work, and plan for their future,” SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz said in a statement. “This is a cruel and counterproductive move driven by a hateful, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist agenda.”
Axios first reported that sources familiar with recent deliberations believe the president is seriously considering ending DACA. The sources added that the president has not made a final decision. The report quickly gained national attention from the media, and backlash from immigration activists.
“Many of our friends and family members are today able to live, work and contribute to our country because of DACA,” Sáenz said. “Together, we stand united in the face of white supremacy and hateful attacks against our communities and vow to stand up against Trump’s racist mass deportation efforts and fight for social, economic and racial justice.”
The SEIU wasn’t alone in its opposition to the program potentially being eliminated. The AFL-CIO claimed that the initiative and the temporary protected status program are essential in fighting for better wages and working conditions. The Homecare Providers Union encouraged supporters to fight back through activism.
The Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people might be eligible for the program when it was first started. Republicans and other critics denounced it as a severe overreach of executive powers. Republican Rep. Steve King claimed the president did not have the authority to just ignore or make up laws in that way.
Obama also attempted to expand the program in November 2014. His executive order would have made millions of more illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action. He was again denounced by lawmakers on the right for bypassing the legislative process. The executive order was eventually killed in the courts.
Trump has promised to better enforce immigration law and pursue policies that protect domestic workers from unfair foreign competition. The administration has said it will prioritize criminal aliens, but critics have expressed concern over mass deportation, which would include illegal immigrants that are otherwise acting lawfully.
The SEIU did not respond to a request for further comment by InsideSources.