As the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) remains uncertain, Carlos Gutierrez, a Commerce secretary under former President George W. Bush, believes the situation has reached a state of emergency.
"The dreamers are the ultimate political pawn," Gutierrez, who is also a former CEO of Kellogg and now co-chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, said Wednesday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "They have been used for years and years and years," he said of the various political agendas that have taken up their cause. Under DACA, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as "dreamers," are eligible for a two-year renewable deferred action on deportation and a work permit.
Earlier this week the Department of Justice took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to overturn a lower-court ruling that blocked President Donald Trump's attempt to end the program.
"We're talking about 800,000 kids who came here, no fault of their own," said Gutierrez, who fled his native Cuba for Miami at 6 years old. "They think they're American. They feel American. They don't even speak their native language. And all of the sudden to boot them out of the country, I think would be a big blemish on our history, on our country."
As of 2017, approximately 800,000 individuals were enrolled in the program, which started in June 2012 under the Obama administration. Trump canceled the program in September 2017 with a six-month delay. DACA would end March 5 unless Congress can pass the program into law.
Extreme views on both sides have made reaching an agreement difficult, Gutierrez said.
"The important thing is to save 800,000 kids," he said.