A group of House Democrats on Thursday asked President Barack Obama to pardon thousands of young immigrants who were granted temporary protection from deportation so they can avoid being deported under a Donald Trump administration.
The lawmakers said Obama can grant a pardon for prior and future immigration violations that could be used by the federal to deport them.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren said the pardons would apply to the nearly 750,000 immigrants who applied for Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Lawmakers and immigrants alike fear the information they provided to the federal government in order to apply for the program will be used to deport them.
A former high-ranking federal immigration official told BuzzFeed News that despite promises by the Obama administration to not use the information — including fingerprints, addresses, and employment records — for deportation purposes, there is nothing stopping Trump from doing so.
“We urge the president to provide security to these young people,” Lofgren said at a news conference. "I have spoken personally to children who are so frightened about what is to happen to them next.”
Lofgren said the request was sent to Obama in a letter.
White House officials, meanwhile, moved to stop the effort, releasing a statement to BuzzFeed News that the president does not have the power to do so.
The move would not give the current group of so-called DREAMers any legal status, but could help them avoid deportation by pardoning an immigration violation, such as entering the country without legal documentation or overstaying a visa.
Trump vowed to do away with the DACA program on the campaign trail, a move that would take away the protections and work permits the immigrants received.
Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez fears that a Trump administration will result in mass deportations for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US.
“They are the most at risk because they registered,” Gutierrez said. “Of the 11 million, who do they have fingerprints for, who do they have addresses for, who do they know where they go to school, where they work, where they fill their income taxes out? They know everything about them.”