The Justice Department announced on Sept. 5 that it will rescind an Obama-era program that allows undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States if they immigrated as children.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protects undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors from deportation, allowing them a two-year deferment and work permit eligibility. The program covers more than 800,000 childhood immigrants across the U.S.
The program was created via executive order by President Obama in June 2012 as a temporary program to allow time for Congress to pass an immigration reform bill.
In an announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the original executive order that created DACA is unconstitutional and that the influx of minors protected under DACA resulted in terrible humanitarian consequences.
“Failure to enforce the [immigration] laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism,” Sessions said. “The compassionate thing is to 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 interest of the nation.”
DACA is closely related to the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, or DAPA, which would grant deferment from deportation to parents who immigrated after 2010 and who have children who are American citizens. The DAPA program was at the center of a multi-state lawsuit, and the states involved reportedly wished to include the DACA program into the lawsuit if the Trump administration did not take action first.
The administration will no longer consider initial applications for the DACA program that are dated after Sept. 5. While those who have not already applied will not be eligible, pending applications filed before Sept. 5 will be processed as normal. Existing permit holders, with permits that expire by the program deadline of March 5, 2018, will be allowed to apply for a two-year renewal if submitted by Oct. 5.
Word from President Trump is limited on the subject, other than a tweet stating, “Congress, get ready to do your job-DACA!”
In a statement issued later, the president said, “Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.”
Congress has been given a deadline of March 5 to reach a permanent solution to the problem of immigration reform. Immigration has remained a contentious issue for Congress for the past several years.
The last immigration reform bill, proposed in 2013, would have granted millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, but it failed when it reached the House.
One of the pending proposals on the table now is the RAISE Act, sponsored by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Purdue, which would change the immigration system to prioritize highly-skilled, English speaking immigrants.
There is no word yet on how the new measures will affect KSU’s undocumented student population.