The Trump administration Tuesday formally announced it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also called DACA — putting an expiration date on the legal protections granted to roughly 800,000 people known as “DREAMers,” who entered the country illegally as children.
President Trump issued a statement, saying, “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
He also said he looks forward to working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to address immigration issues “in a manner that puts the hardworking citizens of our country first.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of the policy, made the formal announcement Tuesday morning. He called DACA “unilateral executive amnesty,” and said the Obama administration “deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” He said DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”
Sessions added, “We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple.”
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said the administration, facing legal challenges to the program, “chose the least disruptive option,” letting the program wind down in six months, and placing the onus on a sharply divided Congress to enact former President Barack Obama’s executive action into law.
In a statement, Duke said no current beneficiaries will be affected before March 5 of next year. But she said, “No new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”
Duke said the administration’s decision to terminate DACA “was not taken lightly. The Department of Justice has carefully evaluated the program’s constitutionality and determined it conflicts with our existing immigration laws.”
Trump signaled the decision earlier on Tuesday, tweeting, “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA.”
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Vanessa Romo, Martina Stewart and Brian Naylor