We can not accept any DACA deal that includes more detention and deportation

Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership, speaking at the University Leadership Initiative press conference on September 5 to respond to news that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session announced the end of the DACA program.

I remain heartened by the defiant response of our community here in Austin to the ending of DACA. We’ve been standing with University Leadership Initiative, with United We Dream, and with undocumented students who have DACA and who don’t have DACA, for years. We’re outraged by the actions of bullies like Donald Trump, Ken Paxton, Jeff Sessions, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick who have tried to terrorize these communities for months now. However, I have complete faith in these young people to lead a movement, not only to push back on the cancellation of DACA but to win something better, stronger, and more encompassing.

There is a community here in Austin that is willing to stand up alongside undocumented people and demand from our federal elected officials a strong program to protect undocumented youth and others, a program that does not come with more criminalization of our communities, does not come with ties to more border militarization, does not come with ties to more detention centers and more deportations.

Now that we’ve heard news that there may — or may not — be a “deal" between Trump and Democrats in Congress, we worry that such a deal may try to trade criminalization, militarization, and more detention and deportation for a DACA fix. So we call on our federal elected officials to act now to protect undocumented young people and others from deportation, without any deals for a wall, more detention beds, or more deportations. We also need our local elected officials to redouble our efforts here in our community to ensure that every member of our community is safe from deportation.

We call on our local elected officials to implement policies that create buffers between our community and immigration enforcement agents. This means implementing policies that completely separate local law enforcement from immigration enforcement agents. It means implementing policies that reduce the number of people who are arrested and incarcerated here in Travis County, because so often, an arrest is the first stop in the line toward deportation, particularly in this administration.

I was proud to stand with Austin Sanctuary Network, a coalition of more than twenty five congregations and non-profit organizations the same morning we heard about the end of DACA. The ASN has welcomed a man named Alirio into Sanctuary at First Unitarian Universalist Church following his courageous leadership. I am proud of our community for coming forward and supporting all of these options for buffering communities against deportation forces.

That’s why I know that we will get through this and we will be stronger on the other side.