Former President Barack Obama issued a statement Tuesday calling President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind DACA “contrary to our spirit, and to common sense.”
“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules,” Obama wrote. “But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about.”
Obama signed the executive order creating the program in June 2012 and sees it as a major achievement. He promised after the election that any move to get rid of it would prompt him to speak out against his successor.
And with the Trump administration laying the blame for its move on Obama — his executive order was unconstitutional, the White House argued, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday morning cited “the previous administration’s disrespect for the legislative process” — the former president said in his statement that he had waited for a bill to sign but that Congress never sent him one.
He said he refused to leave in limbo people brought illegally to the country as children.
“Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be,” Obama said, calling Trump’s move “wrong” and “self-defeating.”
The statement made several references to “the White House” but did not mention Trump, either by name, or as the president specifically. But Obama portrayed the decision as one of pique and politics, not as a response to the prospective challenge in court that several Republican state attorneys general had threatened to bring. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that such a lawsuit could have resulted in the program being ended abruptly.
“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden issued a shorter statement, on Twitter: “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America.”
Organizing for Action, the group formed out of Obama’s old campaign apparatus — and which, though independent, remains in touch with the former president’s staff — quickly followed with a statement of its own. It drew on quotes from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in support of protecting Dreamers and dared the GOP leaders to follow through.
“This is not a partisan issue, but a moral one. Congress must act immediately to pass legislation that finally makes true on paper what is already true in every other way: DREAMers are Americans,” said OFA communications director Jesse Lehrich. “McConnell and Ryan’s words are clear. The only question is whether they’re hollow.”