Thousands of young, undocumented immigrants across the Bay Area and nationwide could lose their protected status in the United States as President Donald Trump later today is poised to rescind DACA, the Obama-era program that has allowed them to stay in the country, pursue careers and higher education.
Speculation over the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has intensified over the past several months, with sources close to the White House saying as recently as last week that Trump had considered using DACA as a bargaining chip to fulfill a landmark campaign promise to build a border wall.
But a Politico report on Sunday, citing two sources familiar with Trump’s thinking, said the president has decided to end the program. And ABC News reported this morning that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will hold a briefing today at the Department of Justice to make the announcement on the DACA program, which protects the so-called “Dreamers” from deportation.
In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.”
“We love the Dreamers,” Trump said Friday when asked by a reporter if Dreamers should worry. “We love everybody.”
The decision is expected on the deadline given by several Republican-led states to repeal DACA or face a lawsuit over what they say is the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration laws. Despite pressure to end the program from key immigration hardliners such as Sessions, Trump’s decision to pull the plug on the controversial program will likely ignite a political firestorm — and bring fierce opposition from local, state and federal officials, educators and business executives who argue Dreamers contribute significantly to the U.S. economy.
Critics say the program wrongfully rewards people who are in the country illegally, granting them “amnesty.”
DACA — established five years ago as an executive order under President Barack Obama — has provided temporary deportation relief, work permits and, in some states, driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children. Supporters saw it as a stand-alone victory in the decades-long push for comprehensive immigration reform.
An estimated 800,000 DACA recipients have benefited from the program, the largest share of which — about 220,000 — live in California.
Santa Clara County Supervisors Dave Cortese and Cindy Chavez, county executives and local DACA recipients will mark the decision with a news conference 10 a.m. Tuesday. The immigration advocacy group SIREN also plans to hold a news conference Tuesday at San Jose State’s MLK Library following Trump’s announcement.
“Trump’s plan to eliminate DACA is by far his most callous attempt as of yet,” said Cortese in a statement. “The lives, dreams, and futures of thousands of DACA recipients are not a bargaining chip for this Administration to play with. I remain committed to them and to their cause. I urge every DREAMer out there to remain resilient and hopeful. Because together, we will rise.”
Check back later for updates.