The Greenville Chamber of Commerce has released a statement expressing disappointment regarding President Donald J. Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“DACA residents enrolled in the program in good faith, came out of the economic shadows, and became a crucial part of our region’s — and our nation’s — economy. Reversing this policy now runs contrary to our American values,” said Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber president and CEO. “There are approximately 7,000 DACA recipients working, paying taxes, and contributing to the businesses in South Carolina. Ending their eligibility to work legally runs completely against the president’s stated goal to expand the nation’s economy.”
Introduced in June 2012 by former president Barack Obama, DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors to be granted temporary protection from deportation while allowing them to receive work authorization. In order to be accepted into DACA, recipients had to prove they were attending or graduated from high school or college, and that they had no criminal background.
President Trump announced this week that DACA would be phased out in six months, making some of the 800,000 program recipients eligible for deportation. He urged Congress to pass a legislative solution prior to March when the program is scheduled to end.
Phillips said that DACA recipients in the Upstate are “filling critical holes in our region’s workforce” and that Trump’s decision “will be a drag on productivity, business growth, and our Upstate economy.”
He urged the South Carolina Congressional delegation to “follow Sen. Graham’s lead and work quickly to find a solution before DACA expires next year.”
Sen. Graham, along with Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill., reintroduced the bipartisan Dream Act in July.
The Dream Act would “allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residents and eventually American citizenship,” according to a press release from Sen. Graham’s office.
Like DACA, the Dream Act has stipulations, including that recipients graduate high school or obtain a GED and “pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military.” All recipients must have a clean criminal background, be proficient in English, and have knowledge of United States history.
On Tuesday, the day Trump’s decision was announced, Sen. Graham released a statement saying that he “always believed DACA was a presidential overreach.”
He added, “However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who — for all practical purposes — know no country other than America. … I have introduced legislation to solve this problem along with Sen. Durbin. I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to find a fair solution to this difficult problem.”