President Donald Trump is rescinding a program that allowed young people who arrived in the United States as children without documentation to work and live without worrying about deportation.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive action signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2012, gave temporary protection from deportation to eligible undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16. Approved applicants also receive a work permit that can be renewed every two years.
Along with critics of the program who felt it went too far, others also criticized DACA for falling short of amnesty and for being a temporary fix for immigrant families.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday described the Obama executive action as an “overreach” after the legislative branch declined to pass similar laws, and said the Trump administration could not defend it. The Trump administration called for Congress to consider action to change immigration policy in the six-month period before DACA end — “should it so choose,” Sessions said, according to political news website Politico.
Sessions told reporters Tuesday that the program would end in six months for those already enrolled, and new applications would not be accepted. But political news website The Hill reported that those whose enrollments would expire in six months would be allowed to submit applications for a two-year renewal by Oct. 5, which could mean people could still remain under the DACA program through 2020.
In Washington state, more than 20,000 people are enrolled in the program. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson vowed to sue if Trump ended DACA.
“We have been working closely with legal teams around the country, and we expect to be joined by other states in this action,” Ferguson said in a statement released Monday. “As Attorney General, I will use all the legal tools at my disposal to defend the thousands of Dreamers in Washington state.”
OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz released a statement following Sessions’ announcement.
“The fight to protect our youth and families continues, as Americans realize the impact of this decision on America’s character, economy, families and communities. The promise of America is so much stronger than any attempt to undermine it. With President Trump once again demonstrating his lack of moral authority, the resistance to his racist and nativist agenda will only grow,” he said.
Congresswoman Suzan DelBene called on her fellow legislators to act.
“The President’s actions today are cruel, heartless and do nothing to secure our borders or fix our immigration system. Everyone I talk to, from farmers and business owners to families and border patrol agents, agrees we are long overdue for comprehensive immigration reform,” DelBene said in a prepared statement. “I believe it is both a moral and economic imperative to fix the nation’s broken immigration system in a bipartisan way so that it works for families and our economy. Punishing young people who are in the United States by no fault of their own is not the way to do that. Congress must come together to enact comprehensive reform in a responsible and compassionate way.”
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal also issued a statement, and cited a Center for American Progress article that says that the United States would also lose billions of dollars in gross domestic product without DACA.
“Over the last five years, DACA has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who came to this country as children. This doesn’t even account for the ripple effect it has had on the family and friends of DACA recipients or the positive impact of DACA on our society more broadly.” she said. “Across the nation, companies, schools and communities have greatly benefited from the talent, skill and unique perspective of the young people granted DACA status in America. The moral cost of repealing DACA is immeasurable.”