On Tuesday, President Donald Trump announced the end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protected nearly one million young adults from deportation.
The decision marks the end of a long drama which began even before the president’s inauguration in January.
Before taking office, Donald Trump was a vehement and outspoken opponent of DACA and its recipients, who are often called ‘Dreamers.’
Dreamers are young adults who came to the United States as children. In order to qualify for DACA, applicants have to undergo a background check and meet certain criteria. Recipients must have arrived to the United States after 1985 and before 2007, and must have been younger than 16 years old at the time of entry. All Dreamers have to have either served in the American armed forces, graduated school, or be enrolled at an educational institute.
After his inauguration and throughout spring and early summer, Donald Trump’s views began to evolve in relation to Dreamers.
The president said then that he had a “big heart” and was willing to help young people who were willing to work hard. He said they should “rest easy” as the White House pondered ways to assuage their plight.
Facing an impending lawsuit from eleven conservative attorneys general, Donald Trump caved to pressure, announcing that DACA would be coming to an end.
“It is now time for Congress to act!” Trump declared on Tuesday, shuffling responsibility over to Capitol Hill.
The president said his decision was compassionate – by handing over the matter to Congress, DACA and its advocates might be able to achieve a better outcome than they could have in court.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department had predicted that the eleven-state lawsuit would probably have been successful.
“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” said Trump. “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”
CNN reports that the White House pledged to continue renewing DACA permits and permissions for recipients whose documents are expiring in the next six months. Doing that would give Congress some time to act before aliens made legal under DACA could face the consequences of deportation.
The move by Trump was praised by conservative leaders in Congress, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declaring that both branches of legislature would find a just way to amend the current conundrum.
“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 those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country,” said Ryan.
While the administration hasn’t provided any formal guideline on how to handle DACA recipients encountered by law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security noted that, if no resolution is reached by March 5th, 2018, then Dreamers will be treated “like any other person who’s in the country illegally.”