U.S. Jewish Groups Urge Trump to Keep DACA: 'Hundreds of Thousands of Lives Hang in the Balance'

ADL expresses dismay as Trump mulls cutting a program that protects 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children

File photo: Young immigrants and their supporters rally in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 2017.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP

WASHINGTON - Leading Jewish-American organizations are urging the Trump administration not to cancel a program that protects immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children

Trump is expected to announce on Tuesday whether he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program, which according to official estimates protects nearly 800,000 people from deportation and makes them eligible for work permits. The policy began under the Obama administration in 2012. 

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement that it was "deeply dismayed" by reports that Trump is considering ending the program. "This action targeting young immigrants would be wrong and immoral," the statement said. "It would grievously harm innocent people who were brought to this country as children, who have grown up here, lived and worked in our communities, and made countless contributions to America. Some are veterans. Some are doctors and lawyers. Some are teachers. They are among the best and brightest of our nation."

If Trump goes ahead and cancels the plan, the ADL warned, "children will go to sleep worried that their parents might be deported and their families could be torn apart at any moment. More people in our country will return to the shadows, and more will live in fear of our government. Hundreds of thousands of lives – and by extension the lives of their families, friends, and communities – could hang in the balance."

The Jewish Reform Movement, the largest Jewish movement in North America, also expressed its support for the immigration program and called on the Trump administration to keep it in place. The movement's Religious Action Center stated that DACA "has helped young Americans contribute to our communities and economy. America is stronger for it." 

Support for the program was also expressed by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which stated that "Jewish values call on us to welcome the stranger" and urged the president to continue DACA.