WASHINGTON, D.C., UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 5, 2017) (NBC) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday (September 5) scrapped an Obama-era program that protects from deportation immigrants brought illegally into the United States as children, delaying implementation until March and giving Congress six months to decide the fate of almost 800,000 young people.
As the “Dreamers” who have benefited from the five-year-old program were plunged into uncertainty, business leaders, mayors, Democratic and Republican lawmakers, unions and civil liberties advocates condemned Trump’s move.
The action was announced not by the president but by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, who called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program an unconstitutional overreach by Democratic former President Barack Obama. There would be an “orderly, lawful wind-down,” Sessions said.
The administration said nobody covered by the program, which provided work permits in addition to deportation protection and primarily benefits Hispanics, would be affected before March 5. Most of the people covered by DACA are in their 20s.
By deferring the actual end of the program, Trump effectively kicked responsibility for the fate of those covered by DACA to his fellow Republicans who control Congress. But neither Trump nor Sessions offered details of the type of legislation they would want to see, and Trump’s spokeswoman offered only a broad outline.
Since Trump took office in January, Congress has been unable to pass any major legislation, most notably failing on a healthcare overhaul, and lawmakers have been bitterly divided over immigration in the past.
The looming congressional elections in November 2018 could also complicate prospects for compromise between the two parties and within an ideologically divided Republican Party.