Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett is one of 18 municipal government officials from across the United States who are urging President-elect Donald Trump to continue a program created by the Obama administration that shielded the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation.
In a Dec. 7 letter sent by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the officials ask Trump to continue accepting and adjudicating applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, until Congress modernizes U.S. immigration policy.
DACA allows certain undocumented children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. To be eligible, immigrants must not have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship.
“Nearly 742,000 undocumented youth have participated in DACA since it began in 2012. With work authorization and without the fear of deportation, these young people have been able to participate in and contribute to our cities, our country and economy,” reads the letter from Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff and the mayor of Chicago since May 2011.
Emanuel met with Trump on Wednesday, and spoke with the president-elect on several topics, including DACA students.
Trump has vowed to deport 2 million to 3 million immigrants who have committed crimes. His rhetoric during the campaign enflamed fears among young Latinos in Montgomery county and elsewhere, especially those who have submitted personal information in DACA applications.
About 60 House Democrats have urged Obama to pardon DACA recipients who are in the United States illegally to shield them from prosecution.
Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Thursday the county executive signed onto the letter because he wants the program to continue.
“He wants to urge the new federal administration to keep it in place,” Lacefield said.
Leggett found out about the letter because there is a network of government officials who are looking at the likely “pressure points” of immigration issues, Lacefield said. Because Obama created DACA through an executive order, it’s considered to be a likely early target of the Trump administration, Lacefield said.
Other municipal leaders who signed the letter are the mayors of Nashville, Minneapolis, Houston, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, St. Louis and Seattle; as well as Providence, Rhode Island; Long Beach, California; and San Jose, California. Former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake also signed the letter.
The letter says DACA is good for the nation’s economy because 87 percent of DACA recipients are employed in U.S. companies, and 6 percent have started their own businesses. DACA applicants, the letter reads, serve in the U.S. military.
Eliminating the program would lead to the loss of $9.9 billion in tax contributions over the next four years, and it would eliminate $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade, according to the letter.