As expected, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today the administration is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects from deportation about 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country as children.
"As attorney general, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the constitutional order is upheld," Sessions said. "... we cannot admit everyone who wants to come here. It's just that simple."
Sessions added that the administration would wind down the program over the course of six months, but that no new permits would be approved.
In response to the decision, Sojourners President Jim Wallis released the following statement:
Jesus says welcome the stranger. Donald Trump has just said ‘no’ to this clear call from Christ in his decision to turn away 800,000 young Dreamers who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children — and who have no other home. Shame on you President Trump for your lack of compassion and for once again playing racial politics by appealing to fear and hate in your political base. Shame on you. Even some of your religious advisors asked you not to deport these children. This action will unite many of us in the faith community to oppose this injustice and you. We will defend the Dreamers and our fellow believers in Jesus Christ. We will battle you for their lives and with our faith. And we will take our unity in Christ to the Congress to obstruct your cruelty. We will take our anger and disappointment and put our faith into action by focusing on radical welcome and protection for all families threatened by this decision. We will redouble our efforts to urge Congress to do the right thing and to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes protection for Dreamers.
According to a Department of Homeland Security news release, Sessions yesterday sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke saying that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress' repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
Tuesday morning, the president urged Congress to take action on DACA. "Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!" the president wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning.
While Trump talked tough on DACA during his presidential campaign, since taking office in January he has publicly expressed a reluctance to deport Dreamers.
"We love Dreamers. We love everybody," Trump said on Friday.
There is a widespread belief in the Trump administration that the Obama DACA policy would not withstand legal challenges from the Republican attorneys general, who argue Obama overstepped his bounds in creating the program.
There were some signs that Congress might be willing to act, with a number of senior Republican lawmakers coming forward to express an interest in protecting the Dreamers.
"If President Trump makes this decision, we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Monday.
Reuters reporting contributed to this story.