The Trump Administration on Tuesday announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that protected about 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.

President Donald Trump had pledged –since his presidential campaign—to end the Obama-era program. The announcement was met with mixed reactions from both Democrats and Republicans.

Pro-DACA protesters in New York. Image Credit: Reuters
Pro-DACA protesters in New York. Image Credit: Reuters

The Department of Homeland Security said it would stop processing any new applications for DACA as of Tuesday. The program was passed by former President Barack Obama through an executive order. Some Republicans say the decision was unconstitutional because it wasn’t adopted by the Congress – which, coincidentally, could have the power to stop the end of DACA now.

Trump administration is to shut down 5-year-old DACA program for immigrant children

Democratic the strongest supporters of the DACA termination, broke the news from the Justice Department.

“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” said Sessions, according to CNN.

DACA has been running for five years and over 800,000 immigrant children –known as “dreamers”- have benefited from it. All have received protections and have started families, studied in schools and universities around the country, and pursued careers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision from the Justice Department. Image Credit: Associated Press
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision from the Justice Department. Image Credit: Associated Press

In a statement, President Trump blamed Obama for creating the program via executive order and urged the Congress to come up with a solution on DACA. Trump noted that winding down DACA would be more considerate than ending it out all of a sudden, but stressed 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,” said Trump. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”

The president told reporters he felt compassion for the “dreamers” who will be affected but said the solution it’s going to be right in the long-term. He even noted that while most people think these are children, “but they’re really young adults.”

Trump administration attempts to avoid backlash from attorneys general

The administration noted that there would be a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires sometime in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected “dreamers” lose their ability to work, study and live legally in the country.´

CNN reports the decision was made after facing a threat from 10 conservative state attorneys general who said they would challenge the decision in court, according to senior administration officials briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

Sessions reportedly determined that DACA would not be likely to withstand that court challenge.

“The Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach,” said Sessions, according to CNN. “There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the laws saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering.”

Sessions noted that failure to enforce immigration laws in the past put the nation at risk of crime, violence, and terrorism, adding that the compassionate thing is “to end the lawlessness,” and to enforce their laws.

DACA participants could face deportation

Meanwhile, Democratic attorneys general are threatening to sue Trump over his decision to rescind DACA. In several public statements and letters to the White House, at least 20 attorneys asked Trump not to follow through with his termination of the DACA program.

“Ending DACA is un-American, and it’s going to threaten the health and safety of many individuals,” New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) told The Hill. “Various attorneys general from across the country are preparing to defend DACA recipients. The Constitution applies to them as well in terms of equal protection and due process.”

Pro-DREAM Act protesters in Arizona. Image Credit: Mundo Hispanico
Pro-DREAM Act protesters in Arizona. Image Credit: Mundo Hispanico

Democrats and many Republicans have criticized the new measures, and others are planning to take a stand against it in Congress. In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan stressed he wishes that Congress will reach a solution in time.

Ryan said he expects the House and Senate will be able to find “consensus on a permanent legislative solution,” which ensures that those who have done “nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the new decision, stating that Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to “re-write our immigration law.” McConnell said that Trump’s decision corrects that mistake, and added the Congress would continue working on securing the border and “ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

If the decision is final, all of the “dreamers” could be subject to deportation. However, it is still unclear what the legal status of DACA’s dreamers will be in the future.

Source: CNN