Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Sept. 5.
The Department of Homeland Security is initiating a wind down process, which will include a time frame for Congress to come up with a permanent solution to the temporary amnesty given by former president Barack Obama in 2012.
President Donald Trump tweeted earlier in the day: “Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!”
“The Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach,” Sessions said. “We firmly believe this is the responsible path.”
DACA has given almost 800,000 young people a renewable, two-year reprieve from deportation, as well as work authorization.
DACA recipients must have been brought into the country illegally before their 16th birthday and must have been under 31 when they applied for DACA status, among other criteria.
The average age of DACA recipients is 25 and those at the maximum age are now 36. Eighty-one percent of the recipients are Mexican, but some come from countries as far flung as Pakistan and the Philippines. Nine percent are citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala. Forty-five percent of DACA recipients live in California or Texas. Rounding out the top five states are New York, Illinois, and Florida.
Sessions said DACA was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch. He has advised the president to cancel the memo that authorized DACA.
If DACA is challenged in court, as pledged by 10 Republican governors, it will likely be ruled in the same way that an extended version of DACA, and DAPA, an amnesty for parents, were ruled last year.
On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld a decision to halt Obama’s 2014 attempt to expand DACA and introduce DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans).
DAPA would have granted temporary deportation reprieve and work authorizations to an estimated 3.6 million illegal immigrants who had a child that was a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and met certain other criteria.
In June this year, Trump ended the DAPA amnesty altogether.
“We are a people of compassion, and we are a people of law,” Sessions said. “But there’s nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. It is my duty to make sure the the laws are enforced.”
Sessions said the end of DACA is an important step toward putting an end to the previous administration’s “disrespect for the legislative process,” which “undermines and destabilizes” the system.
Sessions said immigration policies should advance the interests of the American people and the “compassionate thing is to enforce the laws and end the lawlessness.”
He endorsed the RAISE Act, which is an overhaul of immigration law based on a merit system that was introduced to congress in February.
“Congress should carefully and thoughtfully pursue the types of reforms that are right for the American people,” Sessions said.
Criteria For DACA Recipients
Recipients must demonstrate that on June 15, 2012, they were:
- under the age of 31 years
- physically present in the United States
- had no lawful status
As of the date they filed a request they must:
- have resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
- had come to the United States before their 16th birthday
- were physically present in the United States; and
- were in school, have graduated from high school in the United States, or have a GED; or
- were an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
From The Epoch Times