By: Fernando Stein, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
"Today's announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that President Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months is the latest, cruel, setback for immigrant children, youth and families across the country.
"The 800,000 immigrants, known as 'DREAMers' impacted by today's decision have been living out the dreams that compelled their parents to risk so much to bring them here in the first place. To punish individuals who were brought to the United States by their parents as children, some even as babies, and characterize them as lawbreakers, is immoral and unjust. As they grew into young adults, these children have served our country in uniform, they have graduated from our colleges and universities, they have invested in our communities and they work in our cities and towns. They are valedictorians and entrepreneurs. One even sacrificed his life trying to save others during Hurricane Harvey.
"Our country is the only meaningful home these children—who are now young adults—have ever known. As a result of today's decision, unless Congress intervenes, they will be thrust into the same fearful immigration status that all undocumented immigrants face under the Trump Administration's harmful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, where deportation is an everyday prospect.
"Many of these young immigrants have no real connection to their country of origin and no family anywhere but in the United States. With today's announcement, more families risk being torn apart under the looming threat of deportation and expiring deadline of DACA, exacerbating the fear, anxiety and discrimination they have already faced over the last eight months.
"President Trump missed an opportunity today to reassure this vulnerable population that they have a home and future here, by recommitting at the highest levels of the federal government that diversity enriches our society and that immigrants are welcome. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now immediately turns our attention to Congress to pass legislation that keeps DACA intact permanently. Our 66,000 pediatrician, pediatric medical subspecialist and pediatric surgical specialist members stand with the 800,000 young immigrants facing an uncertain future. We will continue to fight for their right to be here until we see policy that enables them to stay."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds