Federal civil rights commission dings Trump on DACA, Arpaio

Story highlights

  • Trump on Tuesday announced an end to DACA
  • The commission called ending DACA a "a step backward for our country"

Washington (CNN)The federal agency charged with advising the government on civil rights on Friday criticized President Donald Trump's decisions to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and end DACA.

In strong statements, the US Commission on Civil Rights announced a majority of its members had voted to condemn both actions. The agency is an independent and bipartisan federal body that advises the President and Congress on civil rights matters, according to its mission statement.
Trump on Tuesday announced an end to DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals policy that protects young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation. His pardon for Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff who was found in contempt of court for flouting court rulings ordering him to stop arresting suspected illegal immigrants without further cause, came late last month.
    The commission strongly condemned both of those actions in statements issued Friday -- in the case of Arpaio striking directly at Trump's message of being a law-and-order focused President.
    "The pardon of Mr. Arpaio, who repeatedly violated the civil rights of Latino residents of Maricopa County, Arizona and also violated a federal court order to desist from violating those civil rights, flouts the rule of law," the commission said.
    "Moreover, because these violations occurred while Mr. Arpaio was acting as a law enforcement officer, the pardon erodes the promise of fair administration of justice," it added. "Pardoning a person convicted of deliberately and flagrantly defying a federal court order over a sustained period of time undermines the rule of law in this country by signaling that supporters and allies of the President who violate civil rights and ignore orders from federal courts will not be held accountable as our system of justice requires."
    On DACA, the commission called Trump's move to stop allowing new applicants to the program and to let permits begin expiring in six months "a step backward for our country."
    The statement cited both the economic arguments for DACA, including 700,000 jobs that would be lost and the billions in tax revenue, as well as the humanitarian argument for the program's participants.
    "They now face a reality where they are at risk of being exploited in the workplace and deported and prevented from fully contributing to and supporting their families, communities, and country," the panel wrote.
    The commission noted that the individuals protected under the program were encouraged by the government to register and turn over their information that could now be used against them, although the government insists that DACA recipients' information will not be proactively used by law enforcement.
    Friday was not the first time the commission criticized the administration for its actions regarding immigration. In April, the commission condemned Immigration and Customs Enforcement for making arrests at courthouses.
    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.