Anita Kumar and Franco Ordoñez, McClatchy's, August 31, 2017
President Donald Trump is expected to end an Obama-era program that shielded young people from deportation, but he will likely let the immigrants known as Dreamers stay in the United States until their work permits run out, according to multiple people familiar with the policy negotiation.
That plan would allow Trump to fulfill a campaign promise to end one of Barack Obama’s signature initiatives while also giving the president a way to keep the pledge he made after Inauguration Day to treat the Dreamers with “great heart,” said sources on both sides of the issue who are involved in the discussions.
An announcement could come as soon as Friday, just days before a deadline imposed by 10 states that threatened to sue the U.S. government if it did not stop protecting people brought into the country illegally as children.
Advocacy groups that want to preserve the program are urging the White House to ask those states — led by hurricane-ravaged Texas — to postpone their Tuesday deadline. A delay would give those groups more time to negotiate, and it could give Trump the space to avoid making a major policy announcement while his administration is eager to remain focused on hurricane recovery efforts.
But the president is under intense pressure to move quickly to end the program — called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or, more commonly, DACA — from groups that supported his candidacy because of his pro-deportation immigration position and his promise to end this particular program on his first day in office.
“This is something that he has absolutely turned his back on the base on,” said Chris Chmielenski, NumbersUSA’s director of content and activism.
“He’s been advised that it’s in his political interest for him to be the one to make the decision to terminate the program because he’ll get the credit,” said a source who is familiar with the conversations inside the White House.
The idea of allowing the roughly 800,000 immigrants now protected by the program to stay for as long as two years under current work permits is supported even by many of the groups that want DACA scrapped. So long as no new permits would be given and none would be renewed, those groups see the reprieve for current DACA enrollees as necessary.
“I think he’s genuinely conflicted on this and trying to figure it out,” one of the Republicans said.
The administration has continued to allow Dreamers to apply for the program and has even renewed their permits — at nearly the rate of the Obama administration — which has angered some of his own supporters.
The 10 states threatening to sue, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, argue Obama overstepped his executive powers in granting the vast special protections.
The decision follows an internal battle at the White House on DACA. Some of Trump’s top aides have been pushing him to protect Dreamers and use the issue as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal but Democrats stand steadfast in their refusal to negotiate. Some Trump aides express similar compassion for the Dreamers while others fear opposing the popular policy could lead to backlash with voters, business executives and donors.