Janet Napolitano, who while serving as Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration helped create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, said Friday the Supreme Court's ruling rejecting President Donald Trump's decision stopping the program points to the need for Congress to pass legislation to protect it.
"Our hope was that when we created DACA, at some point Congress would act and it would, by statute, put these young people into permanent status and into permanent protection, and on the road to ultimate citizenship," Napolitano, now the president of the University of California, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
However, Congress "has been stuck on anything related to immigration" ever since, so the SCOTUS ruling shows Congress will need to act, she said.
DACA was enacted because it seemed "particularly unjust" that children younger than the age of six, who only knew the United States as home, could face deportation proceedings.
"At the height, some 800,000 young people were enrolled in DACA, were able to go to school, able to work," said Napolitano. "Some 29,000 became frontline health care workers and have been providing health care services during the pandemic."
Napolitano said she thinks DACA recipient "breathed a huge sigh of relief" after the ruling came down, as they will "at least have protection for now" and through the end of the current presidential term.
"Hopefully we'll have a change in administration and that will fix that issue," she said. "But really, DACA is just one example of why our nation's immigration laws need to be reformed. They just don't match up with our current economic situation and our country's values, and they really need an overhaul."
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