By JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's outspoken Republican governor on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump's decision to begin dismantling the Obama-era program protecting young immigrants brought into the country illegally.
On "CBS This Morning," Gov. John Kasich said "putting kids, young people who are contributors in jeopardy" isn't the American way.
"This is not the America that we all love. This is a melting pot," Kasich said. "And, by the way, if the Dreamers want to go somewhere and live? Come to Ohio. We want all the immigrants to come to Ohio, because we know how much they contribute to America."
Kasich, a 2016 presidential rival, was reacting to Trump's plan to reject all new applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, and formally rescind the program.
The president gave Congress six months to legalize it or he'll revisit whether to continue renewing existing work permits for participants. Ohio's estimated 4,400 Dreamers contribute about $250 million to the state's gross domestic product.
Ohio's congressional representatives broke down on the issue mostly along party lines, with Republicans applauding Trump's push to formalize the program into law. Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, used an executive order to enact the program, which he was unable to get through Congress.
"President Obama's unconstitutional DACA program was one of the most egregious examples of his executive overreach," said U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, a Columbus Republican. "The Trump administration's decision to phase out DACA is good news for the rule of law."
Tiberi called his Italian parents an immigration "success story" of entering the country legally, and expressed hope that Congress could come up with a "fair and orderly" for Dreamers.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown was the leading voice among Ohio Democrats who criticized Trump's decision and vowed to fight to protect the program.
"President Trump promised to go after violent criminals, not innocent children," Brown said. "We should not be targeting young people who are working, going to school, paying taxes and contributing to this country - the country they grew up in and the only home they've ever known."
Kasich, the grandson of Czech and Croatian immigrants, observed on CBS: "I wouldn't be in America if it wasn't for immigration. Who knows? Maybe I'd be the president of Croatia."