SACRAMENTO — Democrats in the California Legislature slammed President Donald Trump's Tuesday decision to end a program protecting immigrants illegally brought into the country as children.
More than 30 lawmakers vowed to pass bills to help people currently shielded under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including legislation to limit immigration enforcement on college campuses and to make California a so-called "sanctuary state."
They spoke out in forceful terms against the president.
"President Trump and his advisers are nothing but cold, compassionless men," Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon said.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA program will be phased out over the next six months. In the meantime, Trump said Congress should determine the fate of the program, which provides work permits for qualifying young immigrants that allow them to stay in the country.
One Democratic state senator personally slammed Sessions for the announcement. "It was hard to watch an old white guy who has benefited from white privilege his entire life smugly ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people," said Sen. Connie Leyva of Chino.
Even several California Republicans said Congress should protect so-called "dreamers."
"If today's decision by the president to abandon DACA doesn't force Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, I don't know what will," Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley said in a statement. "America should not be in the business of deporting children who came to this country through no fault of their own."
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said she would sit outside of U.S. congressmen's offices with people protected under DACA every day until they hear her message to support continued protections for the young immigrants.
"We're not just going to just sit here and mourn over what this evil, heartless president and his attorney general" have done, the San Diego Democrat told reporters.
Assemblyman Marc Levine of San Rafael told reporters that Trump's actions are an attempt at "ethnic cleansing" to benefit white supremacists and Nazis.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, also a Democrat, said he's prepared to file a lawsuit against the administration with the backing of Gov. Jerry Brown.