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WA Faith Community Responds to DACA Repeal Decision

Ten states threatened legal action against the Trump administration if the president did not repeal DACA by Tuesday. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Ten states threatened legal action against the Trump administration if the president did not repeal DACA by Tuesday. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
September 6, 2017

SEATTLE - Faith communities here in Washington and across the country are denouncing the Trump administration's decision to end a federal program protecting immigrants brought to the United States as children.

About 20,000 people in Washington state are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, giving them the opportunity to go to college and work. President Obama created DACA in 2012.

Elise DeGooyer, co-director of the Faith Action Network in Washington state, says it took a lot of bravery for teens and young adults to apply to DACA over the past five years.

"That took some trust-building for people to come out of the shadows and expose themselves," she said. "And to now think that, just that many years later, they are at risk because they made themselves known, that's part of the unconscionable piece of it."

Ten states threatened legal action if the Trump administration did not phase out the program by Tuesday. Federal officials say DACA recipients can use their work permits until they expire, and that those with work permits expiring before March 5 can apply to renew them.

Paul Benz, another Faith Action Network co-director, said Congress could pass the Dream Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for those who were eligible for DACA. He said he believes it's the nation's moral duty to protect this vulnerable population.

"You really want to send those people out of this country, simply because they were not born here? I think we need to be reminded of what sits in the New York City harbor," he said. "We need to think about our values as a country. That's particularly the role of the faith community in all of this."

DACA protects about 800,000 people across the country.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA