The Senate’s top Democrat says he and his colleagues are standing “shoulder-to-shoulder with the immigrant community” in anticipation of a potential executive action by President Donald Trump targeting that community.
“I’m here to stand and tell you that Senate Democrats will fight tooth and nail against any and all anti-immigration measures that President Trump and Republicans put forth,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer said at an event organized by the progressive immigration group America’s Voice.
Angela Maria Kelley, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s executive director, intimated that the event was scheduled in the Capitol Visitor Center because it could have served as a response to executive actions rescinding the deferred action immigration enforcement for undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States when they were children.
That has not happened so far, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that DACA recipients were not on the top of the new president’s list of immigration policy concerns.
“The president’s been very, very clear that we need to direct agencies to focus on those who are in this country illegally and have a record — a criminal record — or pose a threat to the American people,” Spicer said. Such a policy is virtually the same as the Obama administration’s was. “That’s where the priority is going to be, and then we’ll continue to work through the entire number of folks that are here illegally,” Spicer added.
Later in the briefing, a reporter asked Spicer if there would be a specific message for the beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s leniency, many of whom are now concerned about having given their information to the government.
“What those people should know is that the president’s laid out a list of priorities, and the priorities are focused on making sure that people who can do harm or have done harm and have a criminal record are the focus,” Spicer said. “The focus is going to be on people who have done harm to our country.”
Senate Democrats have been supporting a bipartisan effort led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., to pass legislation that would effectively make DACA part of the law rather than subject to administrative discretion.
Schumer highlighted that bill Monday afternoon at the Capitol, as well as the origins of his own middle name, as a way of brandishing his immigration bona fides.
“My full name is Charles Ellis Schumer. I was named after Uncle Ellis, who was named for Ellis Island,” he said. “And my daughter’s middle name is Emma, named for Emma Lazarus, the poet who has the poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.”