PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo on Monday announced plans to help Rhode Island’s so-called “Dreamers” avoid deportation.
The move comes just days after President Trump said he wants to phase out protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Raimondo called the Trump administration’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program inhumane, and said she’s not going to allow a $495 renewal fee to stand in the way of people’s dreams.
“This is a human issue,” Raimondo said, calling attention to 350 Rhode Islanders currently eligible to renew their DACA status for two years.
A total of about 1,200 Rhode Islanders have taken advantage of the DACA program.
“They came here when they were one year old, five years old, 10 years old,” the governor said. “They have no choice. Their parents took them to this country, in most cases to flee another country for safety.”
Flanked by a number of so-called “Dreamers” inside the State Room on Monday, Raimondo flagged the Oct. 5 deadline to renew before the Trump administration phases out the program. She also offered financial assistance to offset the $495 fee associated with the renewal.
“We’ve secured more than $170,000 in philanthropic donations so that we’re going to be able to pay for he $500 to the federal government,” she said, as the room erupted with applause.
The Rhode Island Foundation is overseeing the distribution of the money. “As the state’s community foundation, our mission is to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders; DREAMers are Rhode Islanders,” Neil Steinberg, the foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
President Trump and proponents say the DACA phaseout will force Congress to find a permanent solution to the issue. On Twitter, the president has called on Congress to legalize DACA or else said he’d revisit the issue in six months.
Raimondo, the only governor to offer financial assistance to Dreamers so far, urged that they be given a permanent path to citizenship.
“They are Rhode Islanders, they are people we want here, and this is about just allowing the American Dream to exist and thrive and live and be alive,” she said.