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Mead: Congress must act on DACA

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead believes immigration laws require Congressional action, and that now is the time for it, he said Thursday.

“In terms of the impact of President Trump’s action to people in Wyoming and all other states, in the long term, we must look to Congress,” Mead wrote. WyoFile had asked the governor to comment on President Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and how it might affect the estimated more than 600 beneficiaries of the program living in Wyoming.

Mead called for Congress to act with compassion, quoting a message from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own,” Ryan said. “For many of them it’s the only country they know … It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

Mead also sought to reassure DACA recipients in Wyoming and elsewhere by pointing to a Thursday tweet from Trump. The president promised there would be no deportation action taken on DACA recipients during the six month period he has set for winding down the program.

“In my view, this period of no action gives Congress time to act,” Mead wrote.

In comments to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Wyoming’s congressional delegation voiced support for Trump’s decision to rescind DACA. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso also offered tempered compassion for those engaged with the program.

Wyoming’s American Civil Liberties Union representative, Sabrina King, scoffed at Mead’s assurances.

“To suggest DACA recipients will not feel any impact during that time is to grossly underestimate how deeply the uncertainty of DACA will be felt by Dreamers in Wyoming,” she wrote in a statement to WyoFile.

“Our political leadership needs to step up to the plate, and not just in Congress, though Senators Barrasso and Enzi and Representative Cheney should absolutely support the Dream Act,” she said. “Our governor, legislative leadership, mayors, school boards — anyone with a voice in a position of power should be speaking out and letting Wyoming Dreamers know they are supported and that we will fight as a state to protect DACA.”

Mead, a former federal prosecutor heading a conservative state, has disappointed Wyoming immigration activists with his deference to federal immigration law before. In July, he told reporters he did not believe in the idea of sanctuary cities because he believed cooperation between local and federal law enforcement was key to public safety. Sanctuary cities are municipalities where local law enforcement is prohibited from cooperating with federal authorities on immigration law or at times from even inquiring about someone’s immigration status.

On May 1, more than 100 people joined a march to Mead’s office organized by Cheyenne immigration group Juntos, according to a report from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. There, the protesters delivered a letter asking Mead to support Wyoming’s undocumented residents.

The response came more than a month later with a terse letter signed not by Mead but by his Chief of Staff, Kari Jo Gray. “The Governor appreciates what immigrants have meant and will continue to mean to our country,” she wrote. “As a former U.S. Attorney, the Governor also understands that immigration law is federal, not state, and that federal law governs those who enter this country.”

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Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at [email protected], follow him @AndrewGraham88

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