Tal Kopan, CNN, September 5, 2017
The Trump administration on Tuesday formally announced the end of DACA — a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.
In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business community and education community at large has joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program.
In a statement after his agencies and attorney general announced the decision, President Donald Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for creating the program through executive authority and urged Congress to come up with a solution.
“It is now time for Congress to act!” he said.
Trump said that winding down the program would be more considerate than letting the courts end it, but emphasized he stands by his “America First” agenda.
“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful Democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” Trump said. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”
The administration also announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.
The Trump administration pitched the move as the “least disruptive” option available after facing a threat from 10 conservative state attorneys general to challenge the program in court, according to senior administration officials briefing reporters on the move during a conference call conducted on condition of anonymity.
Sessions had determined that the program would not be likely to withstand that court challenge, he said.
“The Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach,” Sessions said. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, (and) enforce our laws.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump’s move
“President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake,” McConnell said in a statement. “This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”
No one’s DACA status will be revoked before it expires, administration officials said, and any applications already received by Tuesday will be processed.
Anyone who’s status expires by March 5 has one month to apply for a new two-year permit, and those applications will be processed.
If Congress were not to act, and DACA begins to expire, nearly 300,000 people could begin to lose their status in 2018, and more than 320,000 would lose their status from January to August 2019.
Speaking with reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity, DHS did not rule out that anyone with expired DACA would then be subject to deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they will continue to prioritize for enforcement people with criminal records, people who re-enter the US illegally and those with final orders of removal.