WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era executive action that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling the program an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to replace it with legislation before it begins phasing out on March 5, 2018.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” Mr. Trump said in a written statement. “But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
The statement was released shortly after Mr. Trump, who had called the issue a personal dilemma, dispatched Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce that 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.
But many questions remain about what will happen to the programme’s beneficiaries.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will end in six months to give Congress time to find a legislative solution.
Here’s a look at DACA and what happens next for the nearly 800,000 people in it who are allowed to work in the US and receive protection from deportation.
WHAT IS DACA?
DACA was created by then-president Barack Obama in 2012 after intense pressure from advocates who wanted protections for the young immigrants who were mostly raised in the US but lacked legal status.
The programme protects them from deportation – granting them a two-year reprieve that can be extended and by issuing them a work permit and social security number.
DACA recipients must have no criminal record, proof they were brought to the US before age 16, and be under 31 when the programme was launched but at least 15-years old when applying.
The application cost is nearly $500 and permits must be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process take several weeks.
DACA does not give beneficiaries legal US residency. Recipients get temporary reprieves from deportation and permission to temporarily work.
Frustration grew during the Obama administration over repeated failures to pass the “Dream Act”, which would have provided a path to legal US citizenship for the young immigrants who ended up becoming DACA beneficiaries and became known as “Dreamers”.
The last major attempt to pass the legislation was in 2011.
Immigrant activists staged protests and participated in civil disobedience in an effort to push Obama to act after Congress did not pass legislation. DACA is different than the Dream Act because it does not provide a pathway to legal residency or citizenship.
WHY END DACA?
President Donald Trump was under pressure from several states that threatened to sue his administration if it did not end DACA.
They argued the order Obama issued creating the programme was unconstitutional and that Congress should take charge of legislation dealing the issue.
Immigrant advocates, business leaders, including the chief executives of Apple and Microsoft, clergy and many others put intense pressure on Trump to maintain the programme, but he decided to end it.
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Young immigrants already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire.
If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by October 5.
If their permits expire beyond that March date, they will not be able to renew and could be subject to deportation when their permits expire.
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People who miss the October deadline will be disqualified from renewing their permission to remain in the country and could face deportation, although the Trump administration has said it will not actively provide their information to immigration authorities.
It will be up to Congress to take up and pass legislation helping DACA beneficiaries. One bill introduced this year would provide a path to legal permanent residency.
Many DACA beneficiaries say they worry they will be forced to take lower-wage, under-the-table jobs and will be unable to pay for college or assist their families financially.
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