U.S. President Donald Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created through executive action by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. Attorney General Jeff Sessions first announced the Trump administration’s decision on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum formally rescinding DACA on the same day.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services, DACA has allowed roughly 800,000 children of illegal aliens between the ages of 15 and 36—often called “Dreamers”—to receive renewable two-year deportation stays, work permits, and in some states, government benefits.
In a written statement, President Trump explained why he chose to end the program. He emphasized the importance of securing jobs and higher wages for American citizens while also relieving their tax burden and protecting them from gang violence, which Trump said has been bolstered by certain “unaccompanied minors from Central America” joining groups like MS-13. He criticized Obama for “making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic” by using executive power alone to make broad changes to federal immigration law—a move Trump and his legal advisers view as unconstitutional.
However, the president also expressed sympathy for those under DACA protections and promised its removal would be gradual, not sudden. “I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” he said. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
Although no new DACA applications will be accepted, current applications will still be processed and existing work permits will not begin to expire for six months. This delay in implementation, Trump said, will “provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act” and pass immigration reform of its own. Additionally, the president assured that DACA recipients not involved in criminal activities will not be considered deportation priorities for law enforcement.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had encouraged President Trump not to end DACA despite being critical of Obama for enacting it, said in a statement, “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” to the country’s immigration issues.
Former President Obama called Trump’s decision “cruel” in a Facebook post shortly after it was announced. “This is about young people who grew up in America—kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag,” Obama said. “These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
The Mexican government said it “profoundly laments” the end of DACA, but vowed to receive all of its returning citizens “with open arms.” The country is creating a special job bank and scholarships for former DACA recipients and said it would help them enroll in benefits programs.
The ENMU Office of Hispanic Affairs opted not to comment due to the controversial nature of the topic of immigration.