Despite appeals from Catholic leaders across the country, the Trump administration announced today that he would end the DACA program in six months if Congress failed to provide a permanent fix. Established in 2012, DACA protected an estimated 800,000 immigrants who entered the United States as minors and allowed them to continue their education or employment. Catholic leaders have expressed outrage at the decision and pledged solidarity with immigrant communities. Five years after the Obama administration enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, protecting immigrants who entered the United States as minors from deportation, President Donald Trump has decided he will end it if Congress does not come up with a permanent solution before March 5, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision on Tuesday and now leaves an estimated 800,000 individuals with an uncertain legal fate, prompting widespread fear and uncertainty among the nation’s immigrant communities and their allies.
Photo credits: Crux Now
Open-ended circumvention of immigration laws
The DACA program allowed qualifying individuals to apply for a permit to stay in the United States for employment or to continue their education. In announcing the decision, Sessions said, “I’m here to announce today that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded.” Sessions referred to DACA as an “open-ended circumvention of immigration laws” and an “unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” DACA claimed Sessions, “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.” By establishing a six-month delay for the program’s end, the administration has given Congress an opportunity to act. Partisan gridlock, however, seems to jeopardize the likelihood of a solution, although Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both Catholics, have indicated a willingness to work together.
Ultimatum from ten state attorney generals
Throughout his campaign for president, Trump pledged to end DACA “on day one.” Following his election, however, the president appeared to have softened, saying he would decide on the matter “with heart,” going on to assure DACA beneficiaries that they had nothing to fear. The decision comes in response to an ultimatum from ten state attorney generals, who had threatened to mount a legal challenge in an unfriendly court if the president did not decide to end the program by September 5. Last Friday, the Attorney General of Tennessee announced that he was withdrawing his support from the lawsuit, citing “the human element” at stake. Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, described today’s decision as “devastating” and a “betrayal.” In an interview with Crux, Corbett said the decision “sends a sign of this administration’s commitment to pursue an anti-immigrant, racist agenda and that they are not looking to govern the entire country.”