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Virginia’s Senators, Rep. Connolly Denounce Trump Decision to End DACA Policy

An announcement Tuesday morning from the Trump Administration that it will be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy has elicited spirited response from Virginia’s Democratic delegation in Congress.

DACA, implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012, allows nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants living in the United States to apply for renewable two-year visas. It is available to individuals who arrived in the United States before the year 2007 who were under the age of 16 at the time of arrival and under the age of 31 at the time of implementation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday morning on behalf of the Administration. Afterward, both of Virginia’s senators released statements of outrage on their Twitter accounts. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) says the decision is “heartless.”

The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act has been introduced several times in Congress in recent years. The current version was introduced in July by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). It would institute a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors (so-called “DREAMers”) in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), in his statement, said DACA is a “promise” that has allowed children of undocumented immigrants to “realize their full potential.”

In a statement released following Sessions’ remarks, President Donald Trump said DACA has “helped spur a humanitarian crisis — the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America including, in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13.”

The decades-long failure of Washington, D.C. to enforce federal immigration law has had both predictable and tragic consequences: lower wages and higher unemployment for American workers, substantial burdens on local schools and hospitals, the illicit entry of dangerous drugs and criminal cartels, and many billions of dollars a year in costs paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Yet few in Washington expressed any compassion for the millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system. Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and jobseekers.

Trump said existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration. He also said that applications already in the pipeline will still be processed, and so will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration.

“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out,” the President said. “Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months.”

In his statement on the decision to end the program, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) says it is a “moral outrage” that attacks people who have been “creating jobs, serving in our military [and] teaching our children.”

In Richmond, Gov. Terry McAuliffe also said the decision is “an attack on the fabric of our nation [that] makes us less safe and hurts our economy.”

Trump said that “enforcement priorities [will] remain unchanged, and that he has “advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.”

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Warner Claims Close Victory in Senate

Sen. Mark WarnerThe Mark Warner (D) campaign has declared victory in the Virginia race for U.S. Senate, however challenger Ed Gillespie has not yet conceded the race.

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, Warner had 49.11 percent of the vote over Gillespie’s 48.34 percent, according to the Virginia Board of Elections.

The Warner campaign will hold a noon press conference to discuss a possible recount, which is allowed under Virginia law if the margin is less than 1 percent.

Canvassing to check votes began early this morning at the Fairfax County Government Center. A recount could happen if the trailing candidate requests it. If the margin of votes is less than half a percent of the total vote, the candidate can appeal to the State Board of Elections to request a recount, which the government will finance. If the margin is greater than 0.5 percent but less than one percent of total vote, the candidate may also request a recount, but has to pay for himself.

The Virginia race was a surprisingly close one. It looks to end with Democratic incumbent Warner bucking the Republican tide that enabled the GOP to take control of the Senate.

Read more about the changing momentum of this race in this Washington Post story. Read more about the candidates in this previous Reston Now story.

In Fairfax County, Warner earned 175,687 votes to Gillespie’s 122,790. Warner also received more votes in all Reston precincts.

This story will be updated as vote tallies become official.

Photo: Mark Warner/Reston Now file photo.

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Gillespie Slams Warner as ‘Blank Check for Obama’

Mark Warner (R) in Battleground Virginia Forum Ed Gillespie (R)  in Battleground Virginia Forum U.S. Senate candidates Mark Warner (D) and Ed Gillespie (R) were asked about a wide range of topics at Friday’s Battleground Virginia Forum at the Center for Innovative Technology near Dulles.

Among the questions: the Affordable Care Act, balancing the budget, the Marketplace Fairness Act, Virginia’s economy and student loan debt.

But the answers seemed to return to two themes: Gillespie pairing Warner with President Barack Obama and Warner pointing out his record of bipartisanship.

The event — sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, along with chambers from Loudoun, Fredericksburg, and Prince William — was not a debate. The candidates appeared separately and were asked questions from a panel of chamber reps, as well as follow-ups from moderator Derek McGinty from WUSA 9 TV.

Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chair, said Warner, first elected to the Senate in 2008, is not representing Virginia’s best interests.

“He has voted 97 percent of time with Obama,” said Gillespie. “Instead of being a vote for us, he has been a blank check for president Obama. Since Warner and Obama took office, we have nearly twice as many people go on food stamps than we have had jobs created.”

Warner pointed out that every piece of legislation he has worked on in the Senate has been alongside a Republican counterpart. He said Gillespie comes from a partisan world where it is always Republican vs. Democrats.

“If there is ever a time to drop partisanship  and come together, that time is now,” said Warner. “If you want someone able to take arrows from both sides, I would respectfully ask you to rehire me. Don’t lose heart — there are more good people with goodwill in both parties. We have just got to and make it safe for them to work together again.”

Gillespie said too many Virginians are being squeezed in an economy with rising food and energy costs and slow job growth. “Some say we have to accept economic conditions as the new normal,” he said. “The new normal is the old mediocre — and we can do better. This is the result of bad policies and government grown too big.”

Gillespie repeatedly referred to his five-point plan, called EG2 (“Ed Gillespie’s Agenda for Economic Growth). His main points: Replace the Affordable Care Act, which he calls the single biggest drag on our economy; Unleash energy, starting with drilling off Virginia’s coast; Provide tax and regulatory relief; education reform and cutting wasteful spending and concentrate on beefing up defense.

Warner says his career record speaks for itself. He referred to his term as Virginia governor (2002-2006), in which he inherited a deficit and left with a $1 billion surplus, a ranking as the best state in which to do business and the creation of 130,000 new jobs.

“As senator, I have tried to take that same approach,” he said. “My record is simple. When I agree with the president, I work with him. When I don’t, I step up.”

Warner cited across-the-aisle examples such as calling on the administration to stand up to Russian President Vladmir Putin and to build broader coalition against ISIL. Meanwhile, Warner called last year’s sequestration “stupidity on steroids,” even though he was among the 74 senators — a bipartisan mix — that voted in favor of it.

“The alternative was another government shut down, which would have been worse,” he said. “We have got to take on entitlement reform and tax reform. Until we grapple with that, we are not going to get our balance sheet in order.”

He also said the ACA is flawed and the challenge is now to fix it, not repeal it.

“What I hear constantly in Virginia is ‘we are tired of being a political football — just fix it’, ”  he said. “They want to keep prexisting conditions, women treated equally as men, keeping kids on the plan till they are 26. But there is a lot Congress did not get right.

“I would remind folks everyone loves Medicare now. Congress did not get Medicare right the first time 49 years ago. I have never invested in a business that met its business plan. The ones that work know how to adjust and change. We have got to have people who are willing to work together and change it.”

Recent polls have Warner ahead of Gillespie by as many as 22 points. Election Day is Nov. 4. Photos: Mark Warner, left, and Ed Gillespie, right, at Friday’s Forum at Center for Innovative Technology

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Reston Chamber Hosts Senate Forum Friday

Sen. Mark WarnerU.S. Senate candidates Mark Warner (D) and Ed Gillespie (R) will talk about Virginia’s role in business and technology at a “Battleground Forum” sponsored by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

The forum — not a debate — will take place at the Center for Innovative Technology, 2214 Rock Hill Road, Herndon, at 11 a.m.  Visit the Chamber website for ticket information.

Incumbent Warner, first elected to the Senate in 2008, and challenger Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chair, have made similar appearances around Northern Virginia in recent weeks, including another Reston forum last week. at that event, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Warner defended his reputation as a centrist when Gillespie said that Warner’s voting record showed across-the-board support for President Obama.

Ed Gillespie/Credit: Ed Gillespie campaignA poll released last week by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University showed Warner leading Gillespie 53 percent to 31 percent.

Friday’s event  is presented in partnership with the Loudoun County, Prince William and Fredricksburg Regional Chambers of Commerce.

Photos: Top, Sen. Mark Warner/file photo; Bottom, Ed Gillespie/file photo

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