All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation said Congress must act to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. However, none offered specific proposals to help the so-called “dreamers” in the wake of President Trump’s decision Tuesday to rescind former President Barack Obama’s executive order shielding the group.

Trump’s decision, which takes effect in six months, jeopardizes the legal status of some 800,000 young adults who applied under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Rep. Chellie Pingree blasted Trump for shifting the burden to Congress, calling his move “irresponsible and inhumane.”

“Yet again President Trump has created a crisis that Congress must solve,” said Pingree, a Democrat who represents the 1st District. “My colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including Speaker Ryan, urged the president not to walk away from our promise to dreamers, and now we must work together in order to clean up the mess he’s made.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins said in a tweet after the decision was announced: “Congress must act quickly to protect those who were brought to the U.S. as children & in many cases know only our country as home. It is not right to hold children responsible for the actions of their parents.”

Collins’ spokeswoman, Annie Clark, said in an email that Collins has not endorsed a specific proposal, but believes that the bipartisan Bridge Act introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in January is a good starting point for the discussion.


In 2010, Collins voted to sustain a filibuster against the DREAM Act, citing concerns that it allowed individuals with criminal records to remain in the United States. The legislation would have provided a path to citizenship for those whose parents brought them as children to the U.S. illegally, and the failure to move to a vote led Obama to issue an executive order in 2012 to protect children of illegal immigrants.

Pingree noted there are nearly 100 Maine residents who are dreamers, saying they “will be immediately impacted by President Trump’s decision to deport young people who grew up here and are contributing members of our communities, and countless more minors will be forced into the shadows because DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) will no longer accept new DACA applications. Not only is it cruel to deport people to a country they wouldn’t even recognize, it would be a major disruption to our economy. I hope the House will act swiftly to pass legislation to give dreamers a pathway to remain in the only country they’ve ever known.”

Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin also said Congress needs to act to protect those brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

“A child should not be held responsible for the actions of parents who chose to break our immigration laws,” Poliquin, who represents the 2nd District, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “I believe if these people have been fully law-abiding members of our society, they should be protected from deportation through legislative action by Congress.”

Poliquin said he was critical of Obama’s executive action on the DACA program because he believes it’s the responsibility of Congress, not the president, to pass laws governing the country’s immigration policies.

“Congress must act to improve our border security; to find a solution to address those well-meaning individuals now caught in DACA status; and to update our immigration policies which reduce incentives to break the law,” he said. “America can continue to be a nation of laws, border security, and controlled immigration.”


Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he was disappointed Trump chose to end the DACA program, but called for a bipartisan approach to immigration.

“I am hopeful that Congress will take this opportunity to work together and find a long-term legislative solution that reflects our country’s values and supports driven young people looking to work and live in the country they call home,” he said.

Nearly half of those registered nationwide under the DACA program are residents of Texas and California. In Maine, 95 residents are approved to be part of the program, and many of them have renewed their enrollment at least once. An additional, unknown number of registrants who are residents of other states are in Maine attending college.

Staff Writer Megan Doyle contributed to this report.


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