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South Florida Leaders Respond To Possible Repeal Of DACA Program For Young Immigrants

Immigration activists rallied in Miami in early August.
Allison Light, WLRN
Immigration activists rallied in Miami in early August.

President Donald Trump is likely to announce the end of a program that extends legal protections to people who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, multiple news agencies report.

Sources tell Politico and the Associated Press that the president will be formally announcing his decision on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, on Tuesday, and that enforcement of that decision will be delayed for six months.

Read more: Trump Faces A Deadline For DACA Decision

In the days leading up to the official announcement, South Florida lawmakers and community leaders took to social media to respond to the likely policy change.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, took to Twitter to condemn the decision. She posted several pictures of herself giving interviews with South Florida TV stations, and repeatedly called on Congress to protect the so-called "Dreamers" who benefit from the deportation protection and work permit opportunities DACA provides.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, condemned both the decision and the president. He called on members of Congress "to work together to create a path for permanent legal citizenship."

The goodness and unity on display in Texas is who we are.

Let's remain unified.

We must #DefendDACA https://t.co/iIaPhEfDeV— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) September 4, 2017

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children," Republican state senator and gubernatorial candidate Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said in a press release. "Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in six months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate."

In an emailed statement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that President Barack Obama made a poor choice in temporarily shielding young immigrants by executive action without Congress on board. The governor said, however, he does want to protect children who benefit from DACA. 

I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents.  “These kids must be allowed to pursue the American Dream, and Congress must act on this immediately. I am encouraged by the approach Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Senator Thom Tillis are working on to address this problem.  

Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools, criticized the "morally corrupt" decision on Twitter. Last week, Carvalho noted in a Miami Herald interview that he himself would've been protected by the program had it been around when he overstayed his visa as an unaccompanied minor.

“There is nothing more right than for our community here and beyond to stand up, to show up, to speak up, to close arms around our children, who are American in every single way but one. They were not born here,” he told the paper.

Read more: Miami Leaders Line Up To Support ‘Dreamers’ And Ask Trump To Do The Same

Among the lawmakers who posted on social media over the Labor Day weekend, few if any from South Florida  voiced support for Trump's decision to end the Obama-era program. Notably, the position of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio remained unclear. The senator has come under fire from some of his congressional colleagues for not backing a recent bipartisan bill intended to, among other things, clarify the status of some 800,000 immigrants brought illegally to the country by their parents.

On Facebook, the Florida Immigrant Coalition posted an article titled, "If DACA Ends, Here's What The Program's Recipients Need To Know About Their Rights." The group also announced plans for a press conference outside Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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Kate Stein can't quite explain what attracts her to South Florida. It's more than just the warm weather (although this Wisconsin native and Northwestern University graduate definitely appreciates the South Florida sunshine). It has a lot to do with being able to travel from the Everglades to Little Havana to Brickell without turning off 8th Street. It's also related to Stein's fantastic coworkers, whom she first got to know during a winter 2016 internship.Officially, Stein is WLRN's environment, data and transportation journalist. Privately, she uses her job as an excuse to rove around South Florida searching for stories à la Carl Hiaasen and Edna Buchanan. Regardless, Stein speaks Spanish and is always thrilled to run, explore and read.