he Trump administration announced on Tuesday the “wind down” of an Obama-era program that, in part, allows for hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.
The administration officially announced its plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which provides a level of amnesty to certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – with a six-month delay for current recipients.
With the delay, the solution for protecting young immigrants from deportation is punted to Congress, with only a few months to pass immigration reform legislation. President Trump urged lawmakers on Tuesday to “do your job” with DACA.
The DACA program was formed through executive order by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and allows certain people, called Dreamers, who come to the U.S. illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients are able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years which is subject to renewal.
“Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services states. “Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”
TRUMP EXPECTED TO DECIDE SOON ON FATE OF DREAMERS
Individuals are able to request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007.
Individuals must also have a high school diploma, GED certification, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school. Recipients cannot have a criminal record.
It does not provide “legal status.”
“As leaders of communities across the country – individuals and institutions that have seen these young people grow up in our communities – we recognize how they have enriched and strengthened our cities, states, schools, businesses, congregations and families,” the letter said.
Why did the Trump administration dismantle it?
During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to DACA as “illegal amnesty.” However, he seemingly signaled that he had softened his stance on the program in April when he told the Associated Press that DACA recipients could “rest easy.”
Yet the administration announced its plan to dismantle the program on Tuesday.
Republicans – and some Democrats – opposed Obama’s order from the start as a perceived overreach of executive power.
“The point here is … the president does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said at the time.
King has remained a stalwart Republican against the program; he suggested last week that DACA recipients should turn their parents in to federal immigration authorities.
Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions blasted the Obama administration’s “disrespect for the legislative process” in enacting the 2012 policy Tuesday morning. He also argued that the “unilateral executive amnesty” could have been struck down by courts had it remained in place.
“Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch,” Sessions said.
Former President Barack Obama spoke out on social media Tuesday after the Trump administration’s announcement, stating that it’s “self-defeating … and it is cruel” to end the DACA program, and questioned the motive behind the decision.