“The Trump administration announced Tuesday it would begin to unwind an Obama-era program that allows younger undocumented immigrants to live in the country without fear of deportation.”

This headline and action warn of a disturbing trend in our country. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program that allows children under 16 who came to America and have lived here continuously since 2007 to remain without threat of arrest or deportation simply because they were born in another country. These children must earn a high school diploma or GED, and may not have been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and must not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety as determined by the U.S. Immigration Service. Lastly, Dreamers must reapply and be approved every two years.

When President Obama announced the program in 2012, he spoke of those affected — the “Dreamers:”

“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.”

DACA is not a path to citizenship; it is limited in scope, but this policy must be renewed or made permanent. Why would anyone oppose this? It is fundamental to us as Americans to shelter and protect those who come to us as children, even as they grow into adulthood. Are we a people who hold our minor children responsible for the actions of their parents? Protecting those who came to this country as innocents is the decent humane action of a caring people.

We have invested in these children. How are they really different from any of us? How many in our community would not be Americans today if their ancestors were expelled because, as children, they accompanied their parents to our shores?

DACA is basic to our principles as Americans and it must not be set aside. Join with us in asking the president to leave DACA in place. Join with us to encourage Congressman Katko to support the program. These are our children; our American children.

Keith Batman, District 7 legislator and chair, Cayuga County Legislature

Aileen McNabb-Coleman, District 6 legislator and majority eader, Cayuga County Legislature

Joseph DeForest, District 8 legislator, Cayuga County Legislature

Michael Quill, mayor, city of Auburn

Dia Carabajal, member of council, city of Auburn

Terry Cuddy, member, of council, city of Auburn

Jimmy Giannettino, member, of council, city of Auburn

Debra McCormick, member, of council, city of Auburn

Bonnie Bennett, mayor, village of Aurora

Bud Shattuck, mayor, village of Union Springs

David Schenck, supervisor, town of Springport

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