Trump still uncertain, but hardliners try to end program for 800,000 young immigrants

Developments on Day 229 of the Trump Administration:

See also President Obama on the Dreamers: “This is About Basic Decency”

Administration Revokes DACA, with 6-Month Deadline for Congress to Act

The Trump Administration puts the “Dreamer” program for about 800,000 young undocumented immigrants in limbo, revoking President Obama’s executive order and giving Congress six months to act.

Culminating days of leaks and announcements from the White House, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, launched in 2013, had been suspended.

Under the program, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children have been allowed to remain, pursuing education and obtaining jobs. In addition to assuring the future of the beneificiaries, DACA has brought billions of dollars of economic growth — a major reason for its support by the US business community and some Republican politicians as well as almost all Democrats.

Those whose DACA permits expire in the next six months can apply for renewal by October 5; however, no new applications will be processed. And if no program is established by Congress by March 2018, it is unclear what happens to the Dreamers, although deportation would be an option for the Administration.

About 200,000 Dreamers are scheduled to renew their permits within the next six months. Another 300,000 will have expiring permits during the rest of 2018.

Sessions declared yesterday, without evidence, that DACA had “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs”.

An Uncertain Trump

Trump made no appearance, instead tweeting:

Hours later, and amid heated criticism of the Administration’s announcement, Trump appeared to open up the possibility of retaining the Dreamer program but ended on a note of vague uncertainty:

He said late Tuesday to reporters, “I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly.”

Trump had promised to end DACA during his campaign, and White House aides put out signals to the media last week that he would soon act. But on Sunday, Trump appeared to kick the issue to Congress without any resolution, setting the six-month deadline but saying nothing about revocation of Obama’s order.

Trump’s wavering appeared to be a product of a split White House. His son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka have argued for the extension of DACA protections, while Sessions and hard-right advisor Stephen Miller — also a key actor behind Trump’s ill-fated “Muslim Ban” — pressed for termination of the program.

Sources said Trump told a confidante that he realized that he had put himself in a politically untenable position. Up to one hour before Sessions’ announcement, administration officials privately expressed concern that Trump might not grasp the details and might change his mind when he discovered them.

On the offensive again on Tuesday after an apparent victory in the White House battle, Sessions repeatedly referred to the Dreamers as “illegal aliens”. He used the pretext that Obama had acted unconstitutionally — effectively pre-empting any court ruling in a series of cases brought by State Attorney Generals — to justify the suspension. He also falsely said that DACA had contributed to a “surge” of minors at the US border trying to get entry — in fact, a undocumented immigrant must have come to the US before June 2007 and before their 16th birthday to be eligible for the program.

16 Years of Effort

Since 2001, during the George W. Bush and Obama Administrations, some legislators have sought Congressional approval of a version of DACA, only to be stymied by opposition and filibusters, mainly from Republicans but also including several Democrats.

President Obama finally signed DACA as a temporary order in 2013, hoping Congress would finally adopt immmigration legislations. However, he was again blocked by Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Obama responded to the Trump Administration’s announcement with a lengthy post on Facebook:

This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.

See President Obama on the Dreamers: “This is About Basic Decency”

But the Administration soon gained some traction with some Republican legislators who had been concerned over the weekend about the possible scrapping of DACA. Speaker of House Paul Ryan said:

President Trump was right in his decision. He made the right call….

I’m also encouraged by the fact that he gave us time to work out a consensus, to find a compromise. Because these kids don’t, for the most part, don’t know any other home than the United States.

Fears and Protests

Dreamers and their supporters responded with fear, confidence, and demonstrations.

As a Washington crowd was told of the Sessions announcement, Monica Camacho Perez, a 23-year-old Maryland resident who has been in the US 16 years, said, “This is our country. We are not going anywhere.”

In New York, about a dozen protesters blocked traffic on Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, sitting in the street with arms locked until several were taken into custody.

“Trump is trying to scare us into hiding, to get us to back down,” said Erika Andiola, 30, who has been in the US since she was 10. “We’re not going to back down.”

Outside the White House, Eliseo Magos, 23 and in the US for 12 years, said he and both his brothers will lose DACA protection. He was supposed to start a job at a veterinary hospital in January, but will be unable to work when his permit expires.

“It’s sad, but we’re not going to stop fighting,” he said. “With teeth and fingernails, we’re going to fight.”

Students in Denver, Colorado walk out of class: