Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that the Trump administration would plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months, a time frame it expects Congress will use to craft a legislative solution.
“I’m here today to announce that the program known as a DACA that was brought under the Obama imitation is being rescinded,” Sessions said Tuesday. The controversial program, which former President Barack Obama enacted through executive order, temporarily defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who enter the country as children.
“The effects of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences,” Sessions said. “It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.”
While ending DACA would accomplish one of Trump’s campaign pledges, it’s unlikely that Congress will altogether eliminate the program. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have already publicly indicated their opposition to deporting program recipients.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), for example, branded ending DACA as a “cruel act of political cowardice.” But even some Republicans have asserted that deporting DACA recipients, also known as “dreamers,” would be wrong.
“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and who know no other home,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) echoed that sentiment on Monday when he suggested that such a move was un-American.
“We as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents,” Lankford said.
“This does not mean they’re bad people, or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are probably enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them,” Sessions added.
And yet Trump will likely find some cooperation from congressional leaders who requested he leave DACA’s ultimate fate in the hands of the legislature rather than acting unilaterally, as Obama did. Many conservatives believe the program itself was unconstitutional given the manner in which it was enacted.
“Acting Secretary Duke has chosen appropriately to initiate a wind-down process. This will enable the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act, should it so choose,” the secretary said.
“Ending the previous administration’s disrespect for the legislative process is an important first step,” Sessions said of the decision to rescind DACA.