Trump ends ‘Dreamers’ program, leaving fate of 800,000 uncertain

Trump discontinues Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects migrants from deportation, a move that Obama called cruel and wrong

Donald Trump thrust the fate of virtually 800,000 young, undocumented migrants into uncertainty on Tuesday by discontinuing the Obama-era program that protects the so-called Dreamers from deportation.

In response, Barack Obama said the decision was ” self-defeating” and contrary to” basic decency “.

A” darknes has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again”, the former chairman said.

The 2012 policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals( Daca) will be phased out by 5 March 2018, leaving Congress with six months to legislate new protections for Dreamers through legislation.

New applications will no longer be accepted, while those currently in the program will all lose their status by March 2020, with the first permits expiring in March 2018- unless Congress passes legislation permitting the young immigrants to stay.

” I do not favor penalise children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents ,” Trump said in a written statement issued shortly after attorney general Jeff Sessions announced the policy.” But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws .”

Trump, who later told reporters he had” great love” for Dreamers, said he had advised the Department of Homeland Security that Daca recipients were” not enforcement priorities[ for deportation] unless they are offenders, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang “.

Jeff Sessions announces end of’ Dreamers’ program

And he called on Congress to act, saying he was providing US lawmakers with” a window of opportunity” to address the status of Dreamers.” Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA !” he tweeted earlier.

But the president stopped short of outlining what sort of legislation he would support to codify protections for Dreamers into law.

Sessions announced the administration’s decision in a statement delivered from the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington in which he told Daca was ” being rescinded “.

” To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest ,” Sessions told,” we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple .”

daca recipients’ countries of origin

Trump’s move follows months of supposition over whether he would keep intact or tear apart the landmark executive action by Barack Obama that lifted the risk of being expulsion for migrants brought to the US before the latter are 16.

In a written statement published on social media that did not mention Trump by name, Obama denounced the decision as “self-defeating”.

” To target these young person is wrong- because they have done nothing incorrect ,” the former chairman told.” And it is cruel .”

” Ultimately, “its about” basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the style we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people- and who we want to be .”

There are around 800,000 Daca recipients living in the US, who qualified by having been under the age of 31 as of 15 June 2012. Those applying were vetted for any criminal history or threat to national security and “mustve been” students or have completed school or military service. Their status must be renewed every two years.

Sessions repeatedly referred to the group of young, undocumented immigrants as” illegal foreigners” while declaring:” We are people of compassion … But there’s nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws .”

” This does not mean they are bad people or that our nation disrespects or humiliates them in any way ,” the attorney general, who took no questions from the assembled media, said of Dreamers.” It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them .”

Although Sessions did not offer a timeline for phasing out Daca, he noted that acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke had chosen” to initiate a wind-down process” in a bid to mitigate the immediate effects of the decision.

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, senior DHS officers said they would allow anyone with a Daca permit expiring between now and 5 March to apply for a two-year renewal, so long as the application is submitted by 5 October. But other Dreamers whose permits do not expire within the next six months would be poised to lose their status as early as 5 March, exposing them to the threat of deportation.

The administration also declared that new applications for Daca dated after 5 September will not be considered, shutting down access to the program for those who are not already beneficiaries.

The specifics of what legislation Trump would be willing to sign to protect Dreamers remained unclear. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested the president would not support a standalone bill to grant permanent legal status to Dreamers, telling reporters on Tuesday:” We can’t take simply a one-piece fix. We’ve got to do an overall immigration reform that is responsible and is lawful .”

Instead, Sanders tied any White House support for a legislative fix for Daca to border security.” I don’t think the president has been shy about the fact that he wants a wall ,” she said.

Trump’s decision was swiftly condemned by immigration advocates, business leaders and Democrats, while attorneys general from New York and Washington state said they would take legal action against the administration.

Many supporters of Daca pointed to the contributions of Dreamers- named after failed legislation in Congress- to their communities and economic prosperity, while noting the program already denied access to anyone who was convicted of a misdemeanour, significant misdemeanor, or deemed to be a threat to national security or public safety.

” This is a sad day for our country ,” Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

” The decision to end Daca is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then penalise them for it .”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of perpetrating” a deep shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young person in communities across America “.

” The president’s cruel and heartless decision to start deporting Dreamers in six months demands an immediate replies from the Republican Congress ,” she told.

Republican House speaker Paul Ryan, who in recent days conveyed his hope that Trump would not terminate Daca, responded to Tuesday’s announcement by characterize Obama’s policy as “well-intentioned” but” a clear abuse of executive authority[ and] an attempt to create law out of thin air “.

” Congress writes statutes , not the president, and objective this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches ,” Ryan said in a statement.

The House speaker nonetheless said it was important for Daca recipients to” have lucidity” on how they would be affected in the phase-out period, while calling on Congress to act.

” It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country ,” Ryan said.

where daca recipients live

The highly partisan atmosphere in Congress will induce the passageway of any legislation to protect Dreamers an uphill battle. Democrat are near uniform in their subsistence of the Dream Act, which seeks to provide Dreamers with a route to permanent residency, but previous iterations of the bill have fallen in the face of steep opponent from conservatives.

Democrats were scathing in their assessment of Trump’s decision to upend Daca without providing a legislative solution.

” It takes person with a dark heart to do something as cruel and pointless as this ,” Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.

US lawmakers, who returned to Washington on Tuesday after the August recess, already face a series of pressing fiscal deadlines in the coming weeks that include averting a government shutdown and securing emergency funding to deal with the consequences of the Hurricane Harvey.

Trump’s decision to hurl the vexing issue of immigration into the mixture not only complicates a packed legislative agenda, but also creates the stakes ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The chairwoman already shares a contentious rapport with Republicans in Congress, who might be reticent to cast politically thorny votes while fending off primary challenges from the right, where any pro-immigrant actions are viewed as “amnesty” .

Pressure had mounted on Trump to determine the fate of Daca. Activists on the right bemoaned the president’s failure to instantly rescind it.

In an attempt to force a decision, 10 “states attorney” general, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, imposed an arbitrary deadline of five September on which they threatened to take the administration to court. One of those attorneys general, Tennessee’s Herbert Slatery III, backed away from the threat last week.

Immigration proponents intensified their campaign to keep Daca intact while directing their pleas to Republicans in Congress. Youth groups launched a hunger strike in the Wisconsin congressional district represented by House speaker Paul Ryan, calling for legislation to build the status of Dreamers permanent.

Additional reporting by Ben Jacobs

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