Update: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Trump administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era policy protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.
Sessions said the White House wants Congress to come up with legislation to replace the program before it fully expires on March 5, 2018. And effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security will stop receiving new DACA applications.
This story was originally published on September 3, 2017.
President Trump is strongly considering ending an Obama-era program aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, commonly known as Dreamers, The New York Times reports.
Administration officials say the president will only roll the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program back after giving Congress "six months to come up with a potential replacement." Officials who spoke to The Times said Trump's team had not resolved some issues, including if DACA beneficiaries would be able to renew their protected status during that six-month period.
They also advised that the president could still change his mind about the rollback. If Congress doesn't act after the president's grace period, it is unclear what the next step would be.
The president will be counseled further on the issue on Monday. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump still intends to make a statement on Tuesday.
In 2012, President Obama introduced DACA as an executive action. Since the program started, it has provided about 800,000 undocumented youth with renewable, two-year work permits and a shield from deportation. But because Obama introduced the measure using his executive power, critics claim the program is an "unconstitutional amnesty."
This is one of the reasons why a group of 10 officials from Republican states — led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — threatened to sue President Trump if he didn't end his predecessor's policy, as he promised during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump has gone back and forth on how to deal with Dreamers, who are typically perceived as "innocent" from their parents' sins and who put their faith in the U.S. government, giving the authorities all their personal information because they thought they would be allowed to legally study and work.
But after a long review of the program with the threat of a lawsuit looming, which would put his shaky administration in even more trouble, Trump has reportedly decided to get rid of it.
Sanaa Abrar, a senior policy fellow at the youth immigrants rights organization United We Dream, told Refinery29 earlier this week that eliminating DACA would be a losing strategy for Trump.
"We saw the Arpaio pardon, we saw the terrible reaction to Charlottesville, and we’ve seen many other instances during the campaign last year," Abrar said. "This is yet another example of Trump siding with white supremacists and their racist agenda to come after Black and Brown folks who have contributed so much to the communities that they live in, who have had the opportunity to stay with their families, to go to college, to get driver’s licenses, all because this program that has done only good for them."
She added that her organization is currently focusing in helping young undocumented immigrants, educating them about the next legal steps and providing them with mental health resources. But, Abrar said, immigrant organizations such United We Dream will not stop fighting for their community.
She said, "If Trump decides to take this program away he’s going back on his word, which unfortunately he has often done, and we will hold him accountable.”