White House

Trump scraps one Obama immigration policy but still uncertain on DREAMers

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017, during an event on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives.
President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 15, 2017, during an event on Apprenticeship and Workforce of Tomorrow initiatives. AP

On the fifth anniversary of one of former President Barack Obama’s signature immigration orders, the Trump administration rescinded a major piece of the policy, ending the deferred deportation of undocumented parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents.

But groups lobbying President Donald Trump to make good on his promise to curb illegal immigration are hoping he will soon act on a second Obama program that applies to children who were brought to the United States illegally, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA.

"We hope President Trump now will keep his entire promise by ordering an end to the Obama Administration's other unconstitutional amnesty, the DACA program which continues to issues new work permits to those here illegally," said Chris Chmielenski, director of content & activism for NumbersUSA.

White House spokesman Michael Short said the administration continues to study the decision and no final decision has been made.

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said he would end the deferred deportation policy, calling it “amnesty” and an abuse of the president’s powers. But after inauguration, he has not acted, much to the dismay of some of his own supporters.

“DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me,” Trump said in February at a news conference. “You have these incredible kids, in many cases not in all cases. In some of the cases they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug dealers too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids…they were brought here in such a way, it’s a very, very tough subject.”

The program pertaining to parents — the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, often called DAPA — would have allowed parents in the country illegally with children who are citizens or legal residents to stay in the country with a three-year renewable work permit if they had been in the United States since January 2010.

The program, which could have affected as many as four million people in the United States but it had never gone into effect after an appeals court halted its implementation. Still, the Department of Homeland Security decision, announced Thursday night, signals that President Donald Trump plans to go through with at least some of the immigration proposals that powered his 2016 campaign.

“While this move is not surprising, given Trump’s campaign rhetoric; executive orders; and the Republican lawsuit against DAPA, it is another example of how little the GOP values the contributions of hardworking undocumented immigrants and their children, who are already Americans,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group.

“Regarding DACA, yesterday’s DHS guidance simply reiterates the status quo. DACA remains in place – for now – but it’s clear that they are using it as cover to deport everyone else,” Tramonte said. “What’s more, this Administration has been cynically wielding its enforcement authorities over certain DACA recipients. This is a classic move used by abusers to keep their targets – in this case DACA recipients – feeling vulnerable and ‘in check.’”

A Texas district court imposed an injunction that was upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court, on a 4-4 tie, upheld the case last year.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly made the decision announced Thursday after consulting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions “because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy,” according to a statement from the department.

"With his pen and phone, President Obama sought to rewrite our nation’s immigration laws on his own terms, ignoring the Constitution and the fact that it grants the power only to Congress to write our nation's laws," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. "Rescinding this abuse of executive power is a win for the American people, the Constitution, and the rule of law."