Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced President Donald Trump’s plan to end DACA, a program that protects the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation if they are getting an education. The program will end in six months, with the hope that Congress comes up with a solution in that time. You can watch the entire briefing below.
“In the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption,” Trump said in a statement after Sessions’ announcement. “While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today. Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration. This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
Sources first told Politico on Sunday about Trump’s plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was established by President Barack Obama with an executive order in 2012. Thanks to the program, about 800,000 so-called “dreamers” are allowed to remain in the U.S. while they get an education, and have not been convicted of a felony or multiple misdemeanors, without the fear of deportation.
Two administration officials further explained to ABC News that the administration will stop considering applications for legal status dated after September 5. If you aren’t on the program now, you can’t apply, but pending applications will still be processed. Also, if your DACA permit expires between September 5 and March 5, 2018, you can still apply for a two-year renewal by October 5. The officials insist that if Congress doesn’t pass a law within six months, the “Dreamers” will not be instantly deported.
The Trump administration has worked hard to show that they are not heartless when it comes to protecting the “Dreamers.” “We love the Dreamers. We love everybody,” Trump said Friday.
“The president’s priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders added on Friday. “The president’s been very clear he loves people and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly.”
“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 added in a statement. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.”
Sessions has been a vocal supporter of tougher immigration laws, going back to his days as an Alabama senator. Politico reports that Sessions played a major role in convincing Trump to end DACA, as he believes immigration policy should be in the hands of Congress, not the executive branch. Sessions also received a letter from 10 state attorneys general supporting the decision to end DACA.
However, several high-profile Republican leaders hoped that Trump wouldn’t end DACA, even if they are critical of how the program started. Although House Speaker Paul Ryan called DACA “blatantly unconstitutional” in 2014, he recently told a Wisconsin radio station that DACA should stay alive.
“President (Barack) Obama does not have the authority to do what he did … we’ve made that very clear,” Ryan said on Friday. “Having said all of that, there are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home. And so I really do believe there that there needs to be a legislative solution.”
One possible legislative solution could be the new DREAM Act, which was introduced in the Senate by Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican. Bills in the House that have gained support include the American Hope Act and the Recognizing America’s Children Act. A House version of the DREAM Act, which is a version of a 2010 bill that failed, has also been introduced.