ABC News has learned that President Donald Trump plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration (DACA) policy, according to two administration officials.
According to two administration officials, here’s the policy to be announced later today:
But officials insist that even if Congress fails to enact new protection for the Dreamers, they will not be rounded up and deported. Officials say the priority for deportation will continue to be undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions will hold a briefing today at the Department of Justice to make the announcement on the DACA program, which protects nearly 800,000 people from deportation.
DACA allows individuals who entered the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday to register to remain in the country, provided they pay a fee and meet certain requirements related to their education and criminal record. Those accepted under the policy may stay for renewable periods and are eligible for work permits.
The White House said repeatedly that the decision was one Trump was not taking lightly.
“The president’s priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday. “The president’s been very clear he loves people and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly.”
The president further expressed that he believed it would be a difficult choice to end the policy.
“We love the Dreamers,” said Trump from the Oval Office on Friday. “We love everybody.”
Trump told ABC News’ David Muir in January that those covered by the program “shouldn’t be very worried” and that they’re “going to take care of everybody.”
“I do have a big heart,” said Trump at the time on the matter.
The administration chose Sept. 5 to make its announcement on DACA, the same day Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other attorneys general had said they planned on expanding a lawsuit to include a challenge to the DACA program if it’s not ended.
President Barack Obama, who implemented DACA on June 15, 2012, using an executive action, intended for the program to be temporary and for Congress to pass a more comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship,” then-President Obama said as he made the announcement from the Rose Garden. “It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.”
Congress has been struggling for years to pass legislation that would overhaul the country’s immigration system, with the most recent attempt in 2013. The immigration bill drafted by eight Republican and Democratic senators — known as the “Gang of Eight” — that would have given millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship passed the Senate but failed in the House.
ABC News’ John Santucci contributed to this report.