ABC News(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration is rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration (DACA) program and phasing it out over the next six months, leaving the fates of Dreamers in the hands of Congress and portraying the action as one made in order to follow the “rule of law.”
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the Department of Justice in announcing the administration’s decision Tuesday. He did not take any questions.
The Justice Department recommended to the Department of Homeland Security and the White House that DHS should begin “an orderly lawful wind down including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program,” according to Sessions.
“This 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,” Elaine Duke, the acting Department of Homeland Secretary, said in a press release.
Since the program’s initiation in 2012 by the Obama administration, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children have been granted protection under DACA.
As ABC News first reported, the new policy will stop accepting new applications for legal status dated after Sept. 5.
“I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on,” Duke said.
Here are the details of the new policy, according to the two administration officials:
- The administration won’t consider new applications for legal status dated after Sept. 5.
- If you are not already protected by the program, you are out of luck, although applications filed before Tuesday that are pending will continue to be processed.
- Anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal. That application must be submitted by Oct. 5.
- Some Dreamers, those with permits that expire between now and March 5, 2018, will be eligible for legal status for another two-plus years. For others, legal status ends as early as March 6, 2018
“We are people of compassion and we are people of law, but there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” said Sessions. “Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers and prevents human suffering.
“The compassionate thing to do is end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and, if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our founders, in a way that advances the interests of the American people,” he added.
The administration chose Sept. 5 to make its announcement on DACA, the deadline set by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other attorneys general who said they planned on expanding a lawsuit against Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) — a lawsuit Texas fought and won — to include a challenge to the DACA program if it was not ended.
“Our collective wisdom is that the policy is vulnerable to the same legal and constitutional challenges” as the DAPA program, Sessions said.
President Barack Obama implemented DACA on June 15, 2012, intending for the program to be temporary and for Congress to pass a more comprehensive immigration reform bill.
Sessions today called the DACA program an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch” under Obama and said it showed “disrespect for the legislative process.”
Ahead of the official announcement, President Donald Trump hinted that he’d ultimately be leaving it up to Congress over what to do about the Dreamers.
Congress has been struggling for years to pass legislation that would overhaul the country’s immigration system, with the most recent attempt in 2013. The immigration bill drafted by eight Republican and Democratic senators — known as the “Gang of Eight” — that would have given millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship passed the Senate but failed in the House.
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