After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, would be rescinded with a six-month delay period, the city's immigrant community is disappointed, but not deterred.
The six-month delay or "orderly wind down" is designed for Congress to construct its own immigration legislation before the program is phased out in March 2018.
Sessions says DACA, created during former President Barack Obama's era was an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch." He continues that DACA allowed hundreds of illegal aliens to take jobs from American citizens.
Tennessee representative Steve Cohen disagrees, saying in a statement that the decision to end DACA is "heartless, illogical, and un-American."
"DACA is a commonsense, compassionate program that helps protect from deporting young people who were brought to the United Sates by no choice of their own," Cohen continues.
He says that according to the Center for American Progress, 95 percent of the DACA participants are either working or in school.
"The decision in not only harmful for the DREAMers, but also for America which relies on them for a more effective and productive workforce," Cohen says. "I urge Congress to move quickly to protect these bright and talented young people who have significantly contributed to what makes America great."
Eliminating DACA will affect about 800,000 young people, in some cases, paving the way for them to be deported. Of that number, more than 8,000 are Tennesseans, according to officials with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).
Officials with TIRRC, along with those from Latino Memphis, are pushing for legislation that would protect the DREAMers. Latino Memphis officials say the bipartisan Dream Act is a "good step toward fixing a broken and outdated immigration system."