Washington, Nov 17 (EFE).- A trio of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday asked President Barack Obama to use his executive authority before leaving office to pardon the more than 750,000 undocumented young people known as “Dreamers” who were illegally brought to this country as minors by their parents.
The request was made by Congressmen Luis Gutierrez, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Zoe Lofgren in a letter sent to Obama in which they ask him not to abandon the undocumented young people and leave their fate in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump, who will take office on Jan. 20.
“We urge you to exercise your Constitutional authority to provide pardons to DREAMers both retroactively and prospectively,” the legislators wrote, warning of the danger to the young people who were able to temporarily postpone being deported thanks to the Deferred Action program, or DACA, implemented by Obama in 2012.
Trump promised during his presidential campaign to eliminate that program, which allowed undocumented young people to get temporary work permits and drivers’ licenses.
Obama’s executive action measures allowed thousands of young foreigners to come out of the shadows and include themselves voluntarily on a government list, providing their fingerprints and addresses and, for that very reason they are now afraid that they will be among the first immigrants to be deported by Trump.
“Dreamers face uncertainty, fear and stress, leading to psychological issues including depression, anxiety and an increased risk of suicide,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Indeed, we have received reports of Dreamers who have taken their own lives as they are now facing the threat posed by the incoming president,” they said, adding that “Using your pardon authority, which is not subject to reversal, to protect these young people who relied on the program you implemented is quite literally a matter of life and death.”
When asked about whether their petition has any chance of success, the lawmakers said that Obama has the power to pardon both criminal and civil offenses, the latter being the type of offense committed by foreigners who illegally cross the border or remain in the country after their visas expire.
Presidents usually reserve granting the most controversial pardons until their last weeks in office, and these pardons are usually provided to individuals and not large groups of people.
Nevertheless, the legislators mentioned that President Jimmy Carter had pardoned thousands of men who fled to other countries like Canada to avoid having to fight in the Vietnam War.
In response to the request, a top White House official speaking on condition of anonymity emphasized that the presidential power to grant clemency cannot provide legal status to any undocumented persons and said that only Congress can regularize the status of undocumented foreigners.