LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Several legislators from Arkansas, both locally and nationally, have reacted to President Donald Trump's decision to put an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The DACA program was enacted under the Obama administration in June of 2012. The main purpose of the program is to help undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children. It offered eligibility for work permits as well as deferments to delay deportation.
Although the Trump administration has called for rescinding the policy, the president invited members of Congress to save it within the next six months.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge echoed the same sentiment that Trump did on Tuesday, saying that the policy went "far beyond the executive branch's legal authority."
"Congress has always been the proper place for this debate and I am please that the president is granting Congress an additional six months to legislatively address the issue," Rutledge said in a statement.
Senator John Boozman said he would push for "legislative solutions" to fix what he called a "broken" immigration system. He also promised to work on the "lengthy and burdensome legal immigration process."
"We now face a situation where 800,000 people, who were brought to our country as minors, face legal limbo," Senator Tom Cotton said in a statement. "Dealing with this problem is a legislative task, not an executive-branch task."
In his statement, Cotton claimed that the DACA program encouraged families from other countries to use the program as a way to gain "legal status for their family members via chain migration."
"I've introduced legislation, the RAISE act, that would limit the amount of low-skilled immigration coming into our country and my colleagues have several proposals to strengthen enforcement," Cotton said.
But Paul Spencer, a Democratic candidate for Arkansas's Second Congressional District, said that discontinuing the program has "forsaken our country's foundational documents that ensure a dignified life for all who live here."
Spencer said our representatives in Washington D.C. and Rutledge "must take action" to protect over 10,000 people "who have only ever known our state as home."
"Ending the program," Spencer said, "neglects the expert opinions of countless economists, who have noted that these immigrants contribute to our economy, and it goes against the majority of our citizens who support DACA."
According to a survey conducted by Morning Consult and Politico, 56 percent of registered voters supported those protected by the policy to "stay and become citizens" so long as they meet certain requirements.
Rutledge was one of 10 attorneys general from around the country who sent a letter to the Trump administration, threatening legal action if the DACA program was not ended by September 5. She said the coalition of attorneys general would "voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit if the order was given to rescind DACA."
Spencer will deliver an open letter to Rutledge on Tuesday, which was co-signed by nearly 100 Arkansans urging her to "reverse her position" on the DACA program.