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Trump to phase out program protecting young immigrants

Serafina Ha (right) embraces Becky Belcore of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium during a demonstration in favor of immigration reform in front of the White House (Photo: Chip Somodevilla)

Serafina Ha (right) embraces Becky Belcore of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium during a demonstration in favor of immigration reform in front of the White House (Photo: Chip Somodevilla)

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era executive action that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation and called on Congress to replace the policy with legislation before it fully expires on March 5, 2018.
The government will no longer accept new applications from undocumented immigrants to shield them from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, administration officials announced Tuesday. But officials said about 800,000 current beneficiaries of the program will not be immediately affected by what they called an “orderly wind down” of former President Barack Obama’s policy.
President Trump signaled the move early Tuesday morning in a tweet, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced the move to shift the responsibility for the immigration issue to lawmakers.
“The program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Mr. Sessions told reporters, adding that “The policy was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern.”
Mr. Sessions called the Obama-era policy an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and an unconstitutional use of executive authority. “The executive branch through DACA deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,” he said.
“The nation must set and enforce a limit on how many immigrants we accept each year, and that means all cannot be accepted.”
Elaine Duke, the acting Homeland Security secretary, said in a statement that Mr. Trump chose to “wind the program down in an orderly fashion that protects beneficiaries in the near-term while working with Congress to pass legislation.”
The announcement was an effort by Mr. Trump to honor his campaign pledge to end Mr. Obama’s immigration policy, while avoiding an immediate termination of protections and work permits for the so-called “dreamers,” many of whom have lived in the United States since they were small children.
But the announcement formally started the clock on revoking legal status from those protected under the five-year-old program.
Officials said some of the current immigrants already receiving protection under the Obama-era plan will be able to renew their two-year period of legal status until October 5. But the announcement means that if Congress fails to act, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children could face deportation as early as March to countries where many of them have never lived.
Immigration officials said that they do not intend to actively target the young immigrants as priorities for deportation, though without the program’s protection, the immigrants are considered subject to removal from the United States and would no longer be able to work legally.
Homeland Security officials said no specific guidance would be issued to agents to shield the young undocumented immigrants from deportation. It would be up to Congress to extend such protection, they said.
Still, the president was conflicted until the end about how to address the plight of dreamers, waffling repeatedly in recent days about how to phase out the program.
As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to comment on it.
Mr. Trump’s action is certain to be met with condemnation from immigration advocacy groups, who have characterized it as a coldhearted move that would yield no benefit to the nation while endangering nearly a million young people raised in the United States who are seeking to work and pay taxes. (-AP News)


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