President Donald Trump's decision to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, drew swift and strong criticism Tuesday. But a local Republican congressman is sponsoring a bill that, he says, would give the children of those who entered the U.S. illegally a chance to stay permanently.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement: President Donald Trump is giving Congress six months to come up with a new version of DACA and, in the meantime, is no longer accepting new DACA applications.
Reaction was swift and sharp by many, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who blasted the Trump White House during a speech in Manhattan.
"They have declared war on immigrants," Cuomo said. 'By the way, their war on immigrants isn't against all immigrants. It's not against the white immigrants. It's against the black and the brown immigrants."
Cuomo and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman plan to sue to block the move. However, a Western New York congressman says legislation has already been drafted that would help the children of people who entered the U.S. illegally, known as "dreamers," be able to avoid deportation and earn permanent residence.
Republican Chris Collins is co-sponsoring the bill, which would give so-called dreamers five years of work status. If during that period the individual maintains employment, does not go on the welfare rolls, and stays out of legal trouble, he or she would be given up to five years to obtain a green card.
Collins said the issue with DACA is that the order by former President Barack Obama that set the policy in motion is unconstitutional. But he agrees with those who say dreamers have proven their worth as productive members of society.
"The kids have gone to school with our kids. They speak English. This is the country they know," Collins said. "They are moving into more skilled jobs, such as engineers. They're good, law-abiding citizens. They're joining the military."
The Congressman told WBFO he'd be willing to support an eventual expansion of this legislation to give the parents, who arrived as undocumented immigrants, a similar opportunity to earn permanent residence.
Meanwhile, critics dismissed the Trump Administration's decision as racist. Governor Cuomo was among those who expressed the opinion.
"President Trump is talking about DACA and rescinding DACA, which is just feeding the beast of bigotry red meat," Cuomo said. "That's all this is about.
"Racism is a cancer in the body politic. It turns one cell against the other, and it starts the battle from within. And only Americans can defeat America. And these lines, and these divisions, and this racism, and this bigotry is the greatest threat this country faces. And New York's example is the exact opposite. We believe in diversity."
Collins, when asked about critics and their comments, stated that Democrats had the opportunity to address immigration when they had control of Washington D.C. several years ago, but didn't.
"It's a bit of hypocrisy to now complain that, six or eight years later, we've got these major issues that need to be dealt with," he said. "Why didn't they deal with them when they could have dealt with them? I guess they weren't too important in 2010."