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Virginia Hispanic Chamber: DACA decision ‘sets tone of hopelessness’

Posted at 6:32 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-05 18:32:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise when he announced Tuesday that the White House will end the Deferred Action On Childhood Arrivals program, better-known as DACA.

The program has protected undocumented immigrants who came to the USA as children, or who were born in the states, from being deported.

The announcement provoked demonstrations and protests around the country, including at the White House.

And local groups like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are speaking on behalf of the people they know will be affected.

Lisa Zajur heads up Passport to Education with the commerce; a pilot program with area schools across central Virginia in which 100 Latino DACA students are enrolled.

"It's going to set a tone of hopelessness,” Zajur said of the executive decision.

The group provides Latino students with language and cultural training as they come to a new school and country.

"So, they kind of felt like already...well...this is not going to work out and by age 16, they'll drop out and get a job to help support the family or just feel like I don't really have a future,” Zajur said. “So, what's the point?!”

Zajur said Latino students learn life-empowering skills like setting goals, time management, and flexibility.

"Diversity is great when you have students that are different know...and bring that to the table,” Zajur said.

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday bashed his successor's decision to rescind an immigration order shielding some children of undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling the move "cruel" and "self-defeating."

"To target these young people is wrong -- because they have done nothing wrong," Obama wrote in a post on Facebook hours after the decision was announced by President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "It is self-defeating -- because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel."

The lengthy statement is among Obama's most forceful since departing office.

Republican Congressman Dave Brat released a statement in support of the president’s decision.

“I applaud the decision made by the White House today to restore and respect the laws of our country. Congress needs to take up the role our founders so clearly spelled out in Article I of the Constitution. We should pass legislation that repairs our broken immigration system, enforces our borders, protects American workers and taxpayers, and establishes strong interior enforcement. It is clear the American people want to see Congress enact laws that place the American worker first. It is time we keep our promises.”