President Donald Trump on Tuesday began dismantling Barack Obama’s program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. He declared he loves the “dreamers,” who could face deportation, but insisting it’s up to Congress, not him, to address their plight. Trump didn’t specify what he wanted done, essentially sending a six-month time bomb to his fellow Republicans in Congress who have no consensus on how to defuse it.
On Twitter Tuesday night, he wrote: “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!”
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can’t, I will revisit this issue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
The president tried to have it both ways with his compromise plan: fulfilling his campaign promise to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, while at the same time showing compassion for those who would lose deportation protection and the ability to work legally in the U.S. New applications will be rejected and the program will be formally rescinded, but the administration will continue to renew existing two-year work permits for the next six months, giving Congress time to act.
Although Trump’s announcement had been anticipated in recent days, it still left young people covered by the DACA program reeling. The DACA program was created by former President Obama by executive action in 2012, when it became clear Congress would not act to address the young immigrants’ plight in legislation that was dubbed the “Dream Act.” Trump ran his campaign as an immigration-hard liner, labeling DACA as illegal “amnesty” and pledging to repeal it immediately. But he shifted his approach after the election, expressing sympathy for the “dreamers,” many of whom were brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were very young and have no memories of the counties where they were born.