House Democrats are calling on President Barack Obama to pardon hundreds of thousands of children and teenagers who have temporary worker permits before President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“When he appoints Sheriff Arpaio or Jeff Sessions, Kris Kobach or Steve Bannon to senior positions, he really means mass deportations,” Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.) said Thursday at a Capitol Hill press conference. “I am not one of those that is optimistic. I see Senator Sessions at the head of Homeland Security with his bullhorn.”
Gutierrez spoke alongside California Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Lucille Roybal-Allard. The lawmakers said they sent Obama a letter today urging him to pardon the more than 700,000 children and teenagers known as “Dreamers” who got temporary worker permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In the letter, they said there is a legal precedent under the Constitution for such an action.
“We’re talking about just the Dreamers,” Lofgren told reporters. “Those who have come forward, have had background checks, our government has said they are not criminals, they have been given work permits.”
While Trump has said he would focus on deporting millions of undocumented criminals, the lawmakers said they’re concerned that Dreamers are still at risk, adding that they’ve heard about some Dreamers committing suicide since the Nov. 8 elections.
“Indeed, we have received reports of Dreamers who have taken their own lives as they are now facing the threat posed by the incoming President,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.