Golf Course Tax Bill Passes — A bill that would provide a massive tax break to two Arlington country clubs has passed the Virginia General Assembly. The bill, if signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), would cost Arlington $1.5 million or more in tax revenue. [Washington Post]
Military Couple Fights Wife’s Deportation — The wife of a retired Army special forces veteran was to face deportation in an Arlington-based immigration court next week, but the Dept. of Homeland Security is now offering to drop the proceedings. Prior to the reversal, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called said via social media: “Military families should not be targeted like this. It’s unconscionable.” [Military Times, Twitter]
Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — The National Park Service expects peak bloom for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to take place March 17-20. [PoPville]
Beyer’s GOP Challenger — “The Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D) used a Feb. 28 meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee to introduce himself to the county’s GOP rank-and-file. ‘I look forward to the campaign,’ said Thomas Oh… an Army veteran and currently a contractor in Falls Church.” [InsideNova]
County Seeking Budget Feedback — Arlington County is seeking feedback on its proposed budget. The online survey asks residents to weigh in on various priorities, including county employee raises, economic development, Metro funding, school funding, infrastructure investment and affordable housing. [SurveyMonkey]
Progressives have to be “relentless and indefatigable” in championing Latino issues, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said today (Monday) during a roundtable discussion with local Latino leaders.
One panelist, whose DACA status is expiring in 300 days, said that the Democratic party had “absolutely failed” to protect undocumented immigrants. Many panelists, however, seemed hopeful that Beyer would continue supporting the community.
Andreas Tobar, the executive director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center and an Arlington resident for the past 38 years, asked for a “glimpse of hope” and a sense of the battles that the community will have to fight before there is some relief, particularly for those facing a loss of temporary protected status.
“It seems like the immigrant community is totally under fire here from the [Trump] administration,” Tobar said.
Another panelist, Jorge Figueredo, the executive director of Edu-Futuro and a native of Colombia, discussed his desire to see the Latino community unite behind issues not just related to immigration, like workforce development.
The congressman told the group that he didn’t “want to create false hopes” that the Trump administration wouldn’t continue with unraveling current immigration protections and that it is “hard to create the center by yourself,” agreeing that a stronger, more united front would help their causes.
Tannia Talento, an Arlington School Board member, told the story of how her family was scared that her uncle had been arrested during immigration raids in the 1980s, and how she had always believed that working hard would open doors for her family and others.
“Even though we can’t push it open now, maybe in a year or two from now, maybe we will,” she said. “I just beg you to not stop trying.”
The overall message from the group was clear, as the panelist whose DACA status would expire in 300 days put it: the Arlington Latino community didn’t want to be seen merely as a voting bloc, but as a collection of voices.
Beyer told ARLnow.com after the discussion that the specific recommendations from local leaders, such as a weekly newsletter from Beyer’s office focused on immigrant stories, could have an impact. However, he found the overall message to be the most pressing point.
“The biggest takeaway for me is that I can’t give up, that too many people’s lives are at stake,” he said. “We need to be relentless and patient and just keeping working.”
“You heard too many people saying, ‘gosh is it ever going to change?'” he continued. “We just have to be relentless and indefatigable.”
The congressman cited several examples of his support for the Latino community, including his co-sponsorship of legislation to protect sensitive locations, such as churches and hospitals, from immigration enforcement efforts, before the diving into the panel discussion.
At a ceremony in Arlington Thursday evening, ten students graduated from La Cocina, a bilingual culinary school for the unemployed or underemployed.
The culinary job training program holds classes for 12 weeks. The students then complete a four week paid internship at different hotels and restaurants.
The majority of students, 85 percent, graduate with a job at a local restaurant or hotel. Employers of program graduates include Washington’s Sfoglina restaurant, National Harbor’s MGM Casino and supermarket chain Wegmans. La Cocina has a partnership with 30 businesses, which take on program graduates.
Current La Cocina students are all Latino immigrants from across Central and South America. The program is hoping to soon expand its student body to include refugees, military veterans, and non-Latino immigrants.
This graduation marks almost 100 program graduates over 11 graduating classes since its inception in 2014. Patricia Funegra, La Cocina’s founder and CEO, was inspired after volunteering in 2012 at DC Central Kitchen, which trains low-income people for cooking careers.
“I just fell in love with the model and how the program was transforming lives, but at the same time I thought, ‘Oh my god Latinos are already in kitchens and they are not receiving this training,” said Funegra.
The graduates receive three certificates degrees after completing the program — in culinary arts workforce development from Northern Virginia Community College, in food safety from the National Restaurant Association, and in food allergy prevention.
Students walked into their graduation ceremony at Ballston’s Mount Olivet Methodist Church to Pharrell’s “Happy” before listening to speeches that touched on the importance of hard work and perseverance.
“It wasn’t easy for you to get here,” said Daniela Hurtado, La Cocina’s program manager. “Each of you had a goal, each of you had a vision, and you gave it your best.”
One graduate, Jose Cordova, originally from Peru, shared his experience at La Cocina during the ceremony.
“Standing up every morning and coming here was hard,” he said. “But we [did not] give excuses and we are not to give it now nor ever.”
For Cordova, who will be working at Crystal City’s Hyatt Regency hotel, the classroom became his home and the professors were like family.
Another graduate, Luisa Gil, who was born in Honduras but immigrated to the United States nine months ago, feels very connected to the other students in the program. She told ARLnow.com that she’s excited to start a new challenge as a Sfoglina chef.
“Everyday I have to learn many, many things. I have to be at the same level as my coworkers, improving my skills and learning or discovering new ingredients and techniques,” Gil said.
The ceremony concluded with a reception of American, Mexican and Peruvian food made by the 12th class in the program. Throughout the program, as food is prepared and graded, it is boxed up and donated to shelters and affordable housing units.
“It’s kind of a circle of sustainability using those resources to feed our neighbors in need,” said Funegra.
ARLnow’s Eighth Birthday — Today is the eighth anniversary of the founding of ARLnow.com. Here is our first post ever.
Sexual Harassment FOIA Folo — In a follow-up to our FOIA request seeking any records of sexual harassment or assault allegations against senior Arlington officials since 2000 — no such records were found — we asked about any such cases, against any county employee, that were handled by the County Attorney’s office over the past decade. The response from the county’s FOIA officer: “There are no records responsive to your request because no such cases exist.” The last publicly reported case was that against an Arlington police officer in 2007.
Vihstadt Launches Re-election Bid — Arlington County Board member John Vihstadt made it official last night: he is running for re-election. Vihstadt, who is running as an independent, has picked up at least one Democratic challenger so far. However, he again has the backing of a number of prominent Democrats, including fellow Board member Libby Garvey, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and Treasurer Carla de la Pava. [InsideNova]
County Accepts Millions in Grant Funds — “The Arlington County Board today accepted $17.85 million in grant funding from three transportation entities that will be used for transit, bridge renovation and transportation capital projects in the County.” Among the projects is a new west entrance for the Ballston Metro station. [Arlington County]
County Board Accepts Immigration Donation — “The Arlington County Board today accepted a resident’s anonymous donation for a Citizenship Scholarship to help Arlingtonians pay the $725 federal application fee charged to those seeking to become U.S. citizens.” [Arlington County]
Man Convicted of 7-Eleven Robberies — A man arrested last year for a string of robberies has been convicted by a federal jury of three armed robberies and an armed carjacking. Among the crimes were two armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Arlington. [Alexandria News]
Arlington Lauded for Solar Program — The U.S. Department of Energy has named Arlington County a “SolSmart” community “for making it faster, easier and more affordable for Arlington homes and businesses to go solar.” [Twitter, Arlington County]
Flickr photo by John Sonderman
A private citizen made the $7,000 donation to the county’s Department of Human Services for a scholarship fund that will pay a portion of the costs to file an N-400 form, the Application for Naturalization.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website, the filing fee is $640, with an extra $85 fee for biometric testing added in some cases for a total of $725.
USCIS waives the fee for applicants whose income is below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and reduces the fee for applicants whose income is between 151 percent and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
But despite the waivers, county staff said that sometimes people can struggle to pay the reduced fees.
“However, some applicants who qualify for the reduced fee and other applicants who are required to pay the full fee still have difficulty paying for their application,” staff wrote in a report. “As a result, they often delay applying for naturalization even when they are eligible and prepared for their interview.”
Under the proposal, applicants at 151-200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines could receive a $200 scholarship, while those at 201-250 percent could get $360. Applicants’ income will be determined based on adjusted gross income, while they must prove county residency and show they reach USCIS’ English language proficiency guidelines.
Anyone who applies must make an appointment and meet in person for an interview at the Community Outreach Program at the Arlington Mill Community Center (909 S. Dinwiddie Street, Suite 523).
They would be notified within two weeks if they are successful, and would receive a check from DHS made out to USCIS. The applicant would then be responsible for mailing that check and the rest of the filing fee with their application.
Staff recommended the County Board approve the scholarship at its meeting Saturday (January 27).
Immigrants Afraid to Report Crimes — President Donald Trump’s hawkishness on immigration enforcement has apparently led to a drop in crimes reported in some of the country’s largest immigrant communities, including in Arlington. Per a new report: “In Arlington, Virginia, domestic-assault reports in one Hispanic neighborhood dropped more than eighty-five per cent in the first eight months after Trump’s Inauguration, compared with the same period the previous year.” [New Yorker]
Lawmakers React to Immigration Decision — Local lawmakers are speaking out against a Trump administration decision to end temporary protected status for some 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants. “Donald Trump’s open hostility to immigrants runs against the values and history of this country,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), while Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called the decision “heartless.” [Rep. Don Beyer, Twitter]
Ramp Near Pentagon Closing at Night — The ramp from eastbound Route 27 to northbound Route 110, near the Pentagon, will be closed each night through Friday for bridge deck work, according to VDOT. “Traffic will be detoured via Route 27, George Washington Memorial Parkway and I-395 back to northbound Route 110,” the agency said. [Twitter]
InsideNova Sold — The parent company of the Arlington Sun Gazette has sold its InsideNova website along with two other local weekly newspapers, while retaining the Sun Gazette papers. Sun Gazette articles will reportedly still be published on InsideNova. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington’s Top 10 Press Releases of 2017 — Arlington County has posted an article ranking the 10 most popular press releases of 2017 on its website. The article concludes that “2017 was a good year in Arlington County, laying the foundation for great years to come.” [Arlington County]
Nearby: Plans for Boozy Taco Bell — A Taco Bell “Cantina” that “mixes the traditional Taco Bell fare with new shareable menu items and alcoholic beverages including twisted freezes, beer and wine” is coming to Old Town Alexandria. [Washington Business Journal]
More Fog Photos — The fog covering parts of the region this morning made for some great photos, particularly among those who trained their lenses on the half-covered Washington monument. [Twitter, Twitter, Twitter]
Planning for Transportation Changes in Rosslyn — “Local officials are now partnering with developers to make more improvements to help convince the next big corporate tenant to pick Rosslyn.” [Bisnow]
Teavana to Remain Open — Set to close next year, the Teavana store at Pentagon City mall is now expected to remain open thanks to a judge’s ruling against parent company Starbucks. [Washington Business Journal]
Lopez’s Detention Center Work Criticized — “Del. Alfonso H. Lopez, a Democrat who has represented a Hispanic-heavy South Arlington district since 2012, was paid more than $5,000 a year in 2014 and more than $10,000 a year in 2015 and 2016 by Immigration Centers of America (ICA), which operates a detention center in Farmville, Va. , according to his state financial disclosure reports.” [Washington Post]
Holiday Events for Incarcerated Parents — Today and tomorrow, the Arlington County jail will be hosting a pair of “special events to allow incarcerated mothers and fathers to visit with their children during the winter holidays.” [Arlington County]
ACPD Show Goes On Despite Snow — The Arlington County Police Department’s “Operation Santa” performance, featuring cops donning costumes and dancing for children in the community, went on Saturday despite the snowy weather. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Disparities in New Middle School Boundaries — “Under a staff plan slated to go to the School Board Dec. 14, middle schools will have economically-disadvantaged populations ranging from 1 percent of the student body at Williamsburg Middle School to 52 percent of the student body at Kenmore Middle School, with the other schools falling in between.” [InsideNova]
Winner of Marine Corps Marathon Works at 7-Eleven — The winner of this year’s Marine Corps Marathon lives in Nauck and works at an Arlington 7-Eleven store. Desta Beriso Morkama, a 32-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, arrived in the U.S. in September 2016. He has been receiving training and assistance settling into his new Arlington life from a number of local people and groups, including local running coach Jay Jacob Wind. [Falls Church News-Press]
JBG Installing Giant Screens at Central Place — JBG Smith plans to exceed the county-imposed public art requirement at its new Central Place development, thanks to a project that will install giant screens in various places around the apartment and office building. The screens will display moving images, including artwork and nature scenes. [Washington Business Journal]
Hybla Valley = The Next Shirlington? — Fairfax County has big plans for a car-oriented neighborhood south of Alexandria: “The plans also include a 3.1-mile extension of the Yellow Line that would connect the Huntington station to the Hybla Valley section of Richmond Highway, in hopes of creating a pedestrian-friendly urban neighborhood akin to nearby Shirlington.” [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Joe Green
Car Fire on 23rd Street N. — A car was engulfed in flames on 23rd Street N. near the Overlee pool last night just before 6:30 p.m. The fire department arrived on scene and quickly extinguished the fire. [Twitter]
Local Tech Firm Benefiting from Trump — Giant Oak, a low-profile data mining firm based in Clarendon, has been awarded nearly $3 million in contracts from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since President Donald Trump took office. Most of the contracts are for “social media data analytics.” [Forbes]
Arlington On-Time Grad Rate Dips — “Arlington Public Schools’ on-time-graduation rate dipped slightly in 2017, remaining roughly on par with the state average, according to figures reported Sept. 27. The school system’s on-time-graduation rate of 90.8 percent was down from 91.1 percent a year before and the lowest since 2012.” [InsideNova]
No ‘Code Red’ Days This Year — Summer is over and the D.C. area got through it with no “code red” and fewer “code orange” low air quality days. “We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the region’s air quality thanks to more than a decade of action and coordination at all levels of government,” said Hans Riemer, chair of the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee. [MWCOG]
Road Closures for Shirlington Oktoberfest — Campbell Avenue and part of S. Randolph Street in Shirlington will be closed most of the day Saturday for the annual Shirlington Oktoberfest, which runs from noon to 7 p.m. [Arlington County]
County Awarded for Economic Development Efforts — “Arlington Economic Development (AED) has been honored with three Excellence in Economic Development Awards by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The awards were presented at a ceremony earlier this month during the IEDC Annual Conference in Toronto.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
An annual multicultural street festival this Saturday (September 23) will bring together members of various immigrant populations that live throughout Arlington County.
Local nonprofit Prio Bangla will host its sixth annual free street festival from 1-7:30 p.m. at 880 S. Walter Reed Drive, near Columbia Pike. Its motto this year, according to organizers, is “Let’s Celebrate the Cultural Diversity.” They expect between 5,000 and 8,000 attendees.
The event includes vendors of traditional foods, handcrafts, arts, jewelry and art as well as local businesses. Other highlights will be a parade and live music and dancing at the county’s mobile stage.
“During this event, our goal is not only to promote any specific culture and heritage, but also to participate in a cultural exchange by giving opportunity to other communities living and growing here with our rich cultural beauty and performances,” organizers wrote.
The nonprofit received a Space & Service Grant from the county in July for FY 2018, which provides it with performance and rehearsal space as well as technical services.
Arlington County Police will close 9th Street S. from S. Walter Reed Drive to S. Highland Street from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to accommodate the event. Street parking will be restricted, and drivers should look out for temporary “No Parking” signs.
Photo via Prio Bangla.
The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously approved a $100,000 grant for the Legal Aid Justice Center to provide legal representation to immigrants who live in Arlington.
“Arlington is leading the way by being the first jurisdiction in Virginia to create a specific funding source for legal representation for its immigrant residents facing deportation proceedings,” said the center’s Rebecca Wolozin, in a statement following the vote.
Over the past few years, Arlington County has repeatedly branded itself as a welcoming community for immigrants of all legal statuses, though it has also cautioned that it is not a “sanctuary” jurisdiction that can shield undocumented immigrants from federal authorities. By one recent estimate, there are around 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Arlington.
More on the Board’s action, from a county press release, below.
The Arlington County Board today approved one-time funding of $100,000 to the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) to provide immigration legal aid services for County residents. The County Manager will execute a grant agreement with LAJC.
“Ten years ago this month, the County Board approved a resolution supporting Arlington’s newcomers and pledging that Arlington is and would always be a community where every individual is treated with dignity and respect,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “In these uncertain times, it is important that the County take tangible steps to address the urgent legal needs of our immigrant residents. We will continue to stand with them, and to be a welcoming and inclusive community.”
The Board voted unanimously to approve the funding for emergency immigration legal aid services. Read the staff report; scroll down to Item No. 43.
“Arlington is leading the way by being the first jurisdiction in Virginia to create a specific funding source for legal representation for its immigrant residents facing deportation proceedings,” said Rebecca Wolozin, the Legal Aid Justice Center attorney who will provide services to Arlington’s immigrant families under this grant.
“In the United States, the right to a public defender is one of our most sacred of constitutional rights. But for immigrants facing deportation to a country where their lives are in danger, the federal government provides no public defender,” Wolozin said. “There are currently over 450 Arlington residents facing deportation proceedings without any lawyer, and 41 Arlington residents were placed in deportation proceedings in the last 90 days alone. It is wonderful that Arlington is stepping up to fill in the justice gap, and it is more important than ever now that our Dreamers suddenly find themselves at risk of deportation to a country they barely remember.”
The Board first approved funding for this grant as part of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget and directed the County Manager to develop a process for award. Six non-profit providers already providing Arlington residents with legal services related to immigration enforcement responded to the County’s Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) with proposals.
The new grant will support and expand these activities, helping to meet unmet needs for the full range of emergency immigration legal services. The funding is meant to both provide services to more residents and provide more targeted legal aid services to help individuals and families evaluate and pursue their options for obtaining legal status and to have a plan in place should an immigration enforcement action occur.
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office should rethink its relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a leader at a criminal justice nonprofit.
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director at the Falls Church-based Legal Aid Justice Center — which provides legal representation for low-income Virginians — said with President Donald Trump’s harder line on illegal immigration, Arlington and other jurisdictions should look again at how they work with ICE.
Under former President Barack Obama, he said, ICE was focused primarily on deporting illegal immigrants who are gang members and criminals. But now, according to Sandoval-Moshenberg, their orders appears to be broader as they seek to deport non-criminals as well.
Fellow panelist, Deputy Sheriff David Kidwell, said that Arlington is legally required to provide information on people under arrest electronically to Virginia State Police. VSP then shares that data with the FBI and ICE, among other law enforcement agencies.
If a person in jail is wanted by ICE for deportation and the Sheriff’s Office receives a request to hold onto them, it notifies ICE 48 hours before the person is released to come and collect them. But Sandoval-Moshenberg said that should change.
“I think there are a lot of assumptions and agreements under the old administration that need to be revisited given the new administration’s policies,” he said.
The pair were on a panel Wednesday night to discuss the impact of the changes in immigration law and enforcement as part of the Arlington Committee of 100’s monthly program at Marymount University.
Kidwell echoed County Manager Mark Schwartz’s statement earlier this year that Arlington cannot protect anyone from federal immigration enforcement. Instead, he said, Sheriff Beth Arthur has made the decision to “uphold the law.”
“She has decided once that request has been made [by ICE], to honor that request,” Kidwell said.
A third panelist, Laura Newton, director of Student Services at Arlington Public Schools, said APS will not require families or students to reveal their immigration status when they register. She added that families should not be afraid of sending their children to school.
“We need to make sure people know we are an open and welcoming county, and we will not stop anyone registering for school because of their legal status,” Newton said. She added that policy has not changed over the past several years, and APS has not received any complaints about it.
Still uncertain is the future of the approximately 800,000 people that will be affected when President Trump’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program starts to take effect in March. Trump is reported to be working on a deal with congressional Democrats to preserve DACA protections via legislation.
The decision, which affects people brought into the country illegally as children who were granted work permits and protection from deportation, was criticized by local members of Congress as well as the County Board.
Sandoval-Moshenberg estimated there are around 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Arlington. He said the dearth of affordable housing has meant the immigrant population has been slowly squeezed out. In 2000, 30 percent of Arlington residents were foreign-born, but in 2010, that figure went down to 20 percent.
“As the laws and policies have become more and more welcoming to immigrants and more and more friendly to immigrants, less and less are living here as fewer and fewer can afford to live here,” Sandoval-Moshenberg said. He said that ending DACA could mean more people go back into the shadows.
Both Kidwell and Newton said their agencies will not change their stances on illegal immigrants. Kidwell said sheriff’s deputies and police officers will not ask anyone under arrest about their immigration status, while Newton emphasized that APS mission to educate anyone and everyone who lives in Arlington.
“It’s not our place to judge the reasons why you are here,” she said. “Our job is to educate you.”
The Committee of 100 will discuss the impact of immigration policy and enforcement on private organizations and civic groups at its November meeting in the second of its two-part series on the issue. In October the group will hold a forum with local candidates for public office.
The Arlington Republican Party is criticizing the Arlington County Board for issuing a statement condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants.
The County Board joined other local and statewide elected officials in condemning Trump’s decision.
Members called the decision an “act of cruelty” that will “will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans.”
But in a statement of his own on Wednesday morning, Arlington GOP chair Jim Presswood said the Board’s criticism was “misguided” and that it is up to Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.
Presswood also said he is “optimistic” that young people, known as Dreamers, can stay in the United States.
The Arlington County Board’s criticism of President Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program is misguided. The Board said in its statement released yesterday that the decision was an act of cruelty that will tear apart families.
The president, however, only passed the decision on the DACA issues back to Congress, where it rightfully belongs. President Obama clearly overstepped his authority when he created the program in 2012 without any rational connection to a law enacted by Congress. Congress, not the president, is the branch of government that should be making law.
Congressional Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Northern Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, support comprehensive immigration reform on issues related to DACA, border security, and enforcement. Speaker Ryan said that he wants a permanent legislative solution for these issues “that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”
I’m optimistic a solution will be quickly found that enables these young people to stay in our country. It’s the right thing to do.
The Arlington County Board has joined other local elected officials in criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon (below), the County Board called the decision an “act of cruelty” that will “will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans.”
We are gravely disappointed with President Trump’s decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the program that has given hope to some 800,000 Dreamers by protecting them from deportation and allowing them to more fully integrate into our country — their country.
The young people protected under DACA have gone to school, saluted our flag and served in our armed services. Many never knew they were not citizens until they looked for a job or applied to college. They have made many contributions to our nation. Arlington’s own DACA recipients have been an integral part of this County through their academic achievements in Arlington Public Schools and their leadership in the community.
Since 2012, DACA has allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16 to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and made them eligible to work. In short, it gave nearly one million young people hope.
The president’s act of cruelty will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans. Congress must now act before the March deadline to protect the Dreamers. Congress should immediately consider the American Hope Act, cosponsored by Rep. Don Beyer, who has shown real leadership on the immigration issue.
While Congress has tried and failed in the past to enact comprehensive immigration reform, permanently addressing the fate of America’s Dreamers cannot wait. Now is their opportunity to act, and they should do so immediately.
Arlington again reaffirms its commitment as a welcoming community that recognizes, respects and supports the contributions of all its members. Today, Arlington stands especially with these young people, our Dreamers and DACA recipients.
President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that protected younger undocumented immigrants from deportation was sharply criticized by various Arlington leaders today.
Trump announced his administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months to give Congress time to act and find an alternative plan through legislation.
The program protects some children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents from immediate deportation, and instead allows them a renewable two-year deferral and eligibility for a work permit. It is estimated that 800,000 people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16., also known as “Dreamers,” have been shielded from deportation by DACA.
Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church and a portion of Fairfax County, criticized the decision as an “act of malice.”
“President Trump’s decision to end DACA and begin deporting our Dreamers betrays nearly one million young people who grew up with this country as their own and made so many contributions to it,” Beyer said in a statement. “This act of malice will tear apart hundreds of thousands of American families and inflict serious economic damage on the country. Congress has no choice but to act immediately, and it should begin consideration of the American Hope Act to protect Dreamers.”
Bishop Michael Burbidge, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington since December, said in a statement he is “disheartened” by the decision to end DACA:
I join my voice with those who are disheartened by the news that President Trump will rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Standing with my brother Bishops, I urge Congress and the President to enact legislation that will safeguard those currently protected by this important program.
While the issue of immigration is complicated — and our government has many considerations to balance in responding to the influx of those who seek safety, and personal and economic security in our country — offering special protection to those who only know the United States as home is a reasonable measure of compassion.
This news is undoubtedly troubling for the hundreds of thousands approved through DACA. I ask all Catholics and people of good will in the Diocese of Arlington to keep these individuals, as well as our government officials, in prayer. May we as a country be considerate of our neighbors and defend those whom we have offered protection and safe harbor.
U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Trump’s decision could have enormous economic repercussions too, and urged Congress to act quickly.
In a statement, Warner said:
The DACA program was a promise to protect certain children of undocumented immigrants, who came to this country through no fault of their own, so they could safely come out of the shadows, attain legal status and realize their full potential. Over the years, the DREAMers have shown us their true character–working hard to become this nation’s next generation of students, entrepreneurs, and military men and women. And while Congress has a responsibility to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides them with a fair path to citizenship, which the Senate passed in 2013, we cannot let the Trump Administration’s disgraceful anti-immigrant policies leave nearly 800,000 DREAMers in limbo. Going back on our word threatens their safety, harms our economy and speaks volumes about who we are as a country.