Capitol Alert

Undocumented ‘dreamers’ wonder if Trump will continue Obama-era program

Polet Hernandez, a DACA student from California State University, Stanislaus, takes a tour of the Serna Center after she and staff members from her school attended a post-inauguration discussion at Sacramento State’s University Union on Jan. 23.
Polet Hernandez, a DACA student from California State University, Stanislaus, takes a tour of the Serna Center after she and staff members from her school attended a post-inauguration discussion at Sacramento State’s University Union on Jan. 23. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Today marks the five-year anniversary of an Obama-era program that allows young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16 to apply to live and work without the fear of deportation.

Nearly 800,000 immigrants have been accepted into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program since 2012, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data as of March 31. Among other qualifiers, applicants must be in school or have already graduated and cannot have a felony or significant misdemeanor conviction on their record.

Now they face an uncertain future under President Donald Trump.

Trump pledged to end the program early on in the presidential campaign. He seemed to soften his position in a Time profile published in early December. Last month he told reporters he’s facing a “very, very hard” decision over what to do.

Along the way the new administration has continued to approve DACA applications. Roughly 17,000 new applicants and 107,000 renewals were accepted into the program in the first three months of 2017.

That doesn’t mean the fight is over.

Ten Republican-dominated states have threatened to sue the president if the program is not ended by Sept. 5. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined 19 other state attorneys general who sent the president a letter last month urging him to leave DACA alone.

UC President Janet Napolitano last week questioned whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions would defend the program against the suits at all in. Napolitano served as secretary of homeland security when DACA started.

California Dreamers aren’t waiting to see what happens.

A dozen DACA beneficiaries from the Golden State have joined others from Oregon and Washington in a caravan up the West Coast to share their stories and build public support for the president to continue the program.

The young immigrants will be Seattle today for a march and rally timed with other demonstrations throughout the country.

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WORTH REPEATING: “He should stay where he belongs; in prison.”

– Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, on the early release request of former Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello

POT RALLY: Marijuana entrepreneurs and activists were up in arms when the Los Angeles City Council proposed issuing certificates of compliance instead of licenses for pot businesses earlier this year. The proposal essentially meant weed businesses would remain illegal in Los Angeles with limited immunity from criminal prosecution, according to the L.A. Times. After receiving push back, the City Council is expected to change its regulations to issue licenses and permits after all. The United Food and Commercial Workers, United Cannabis Business Association, the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force and others will rally outside L.A. City Hall at 3 p.m. Tuesday to demand changes to the draft regulations.

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MUST READ: California filed a lawsuit Monday against the Trump administration over threats to withhold public safety funds from sanctuary cities.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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