WASHINGTON (AP) - UPDATE: Local lawmakers issued statements after the Attorney General's announcement that the Trump administration would be ending DACA.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) —
"America has been and always will be a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. However, many young undocumented children were brought here by parents, caretakers, and so forth through no fault of their own. As I have stated many times before, we must show compassion toward these children. While I do not support giving them citizenship, we must identify and pursue a measured approach that addresses their unique situation, but also respects the importance of our immigration laws and discourages future illegal immigration.
“It is now incumbent upon Congress to act. We have an opportunity to solve this issue, work to secure the border, and modernize the legal immigration system.”
U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) —
“America is a nation of laws, and it is the sole responsibility of Congress to create and pass legislation. President Obama bypassed Congress when he originally created the program, but in so doing, he offered a pathway for these individuals to get right with the law. In 2015, I voted to support DACA because I believe these children, who only know America to be their home, deserve an opportunity to be here legally.
“With that said, Congress now has an opportunity to act on immigration reform and we have the support here to do it. As a cosponsor of H.R. 1468, the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, it is my hope that the House will consider this legislation, sponsored by my friend and colleague Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), so we can act on this important issue sooner rather than later. It’s critical that we act on a permanent, legislative solution that allows these immigrants, individuals who have come out of the shadows and contributed to our society and economy, to stay here legally.”
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) —
“However well-intentioned DACA may have been, the program was created by executive edict rather than by Congress as the Constitution requires. Because of President Obama’s executive overreach, DACA has faced numerous legitimate legal challenges, and now President Trump has asked Congress to sort it out,” Grassley said.
“Any legislative solution is going to have to be a compromise that addresses the status of those who have been unlawfully brought to this country and upholds the rule of law. President Trump should continue to work with Congress to pass reforms through the legislative process that encourage lawful immigration. In the meantime, I expect that the Administration’s immigration enforcement priorities will continue to target the thousands of criminals ahead of those who have otherwise abided by our laws.”
U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) —
"In my first conversation with President Trump on Inauguration Day, I thanked him for the positive things he had said about the Dreamers. He looked me in the eye and said: “Don't worry. We are going to take care of those kids.”
Despite many of the terrible immigration policies this Administration has put forward, I have always held out the hope that President Trump would keep his work and "take care" of the Dreamers. After all, the President told America, “we love the Dreamers.”
But today’s announcement from Attorney General Sessions was cold, harsh, threatening, and showed little respect, let alone love, for these Dreamers.
Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people—students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers, and more. Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately. I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they’ve ever known. Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait."
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) —
“Make no mistake—this decision is not about ‘rule of law,’ as Attorney General Sessions claims. This is a gut-wrenching betrayal of American values that leaves nearly 800,000 of our neighbors vulnerable to deportation and tears families and communities apart."
“DREAMers and DACA recipients are doctors, teachers, students and Servicemembers. They have mortgages and jobs. They know only one nation: the United States, which is where they were raised. To end a program that allowed these patriots to come out of the shadows and more fully contribute to this country is irresponsible and heartless. Congress must act immediately and pass legislation to make DACA the law of the land.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s administration will “wind down” a program protecting hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Tuesday, calling the Obama administration’s program “an unconstitutional exercise of authority.”
The government will stop processing new applications under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S.
But the administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program.
“Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed,” Sessions said.
Trump suggested in an earlier tweet that it would be up to Congress to ultimately decide the fate of those now protected by the program. He tweeted, “Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!”
“Make no mistake, we are going to put the interest of AMERICAN CITIZENS FIRST!” Trump added in a second, retweeted message. “The forgotten men & women will no longer be forgotten.”
Sessions’ announcement came the same day as a deadline set by a group of Republican state officials who said they would challenge DACA in court unless the Trump administration rescinded the program.
Many believe the program would not hold up in court.
Trump’s plan to take a harder line on young immigrants unless Congress intervenes threatens to emphasize deep divisions among Republicans who have long struggled with the issue, with one conservative warning of a potential “civil war” within the party. Congressional Republicans have a long history of being unable to act on immigration because of those divisions.
Trump has spent months wrestling with what to do with DACA, which he slammed during his campaign as illegal “amnesty.” Many of his closest advisers, including Sessions, policy adviser Stephen Miller, and former chief strategist Steve Bannon argue that the program is unconstitutional and have urged Trump to follow through on his campaign promise to end it.
But Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for the young people protected by the program, describing the decision as one of the most difficult he’s had to grapple with as president.
“I think the Dreamers are terrific,” Trump said last week, using a term popularized by supporters of the program, which was created in 2012 as a stopgap as the Obama administration pushed unsuccessfully for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress.
All the while, his administration has continued to issue new permits and extensions to immigrants who qualify.
But his approach — essentially kicking the can down the road and letting Congress deal with it— is fraught with uncertainty and political perils that amount, according to one vocal opponent, to “Republican suicide.”
Still other Republicans say they are ready to take the issue on.
“If President Trump makes this decision, we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma,” said Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham.
The Obama administration created the DACA program in 2012 as a stopgap as it pushed unsuccessfully for a broader immigration overhaul in Congress. Many Republicans say they opposed the program on the grounds that it was executive overreach.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and a handful of other Republicans urged Trump last week to hold off on scrapping DACA to give lawmakers time to come up with a legislative fix.
But Congress has repeatedly tried — and failed — to come together on immigration overhaul legislation, and it remains uncertain whether the House would succeed in passing anything on the divisive topic.
One bill addressing the issue that has received the most attention, introduced by Sens. Graham, R-S.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., would grant permanent legal status to more than 1 million young people who arrived in the United States before they turned 18, passed security checks and met other criteria, including enrolling in college, joining the military or finding jobs.
It’s unclear, however, whether the president would throw his support behind that or any other existing legislation. He could encourage the writing of a new bill — tied, perhaps, to funding for his promised border wall or other concessions like a reduction in legal immigration levels.
But it’s unclear how much political capital the president would want to put on the line given his base’s strong opposition to illegal immigration, his campaign rhetoric blasting DACA as illegal “amnesty” and his reluctance to campaign hard for other priorities, like health care overhaul.
Trump’s expected move has sparked protests, phone banks, letter-writing campaigns and other efforts across the country urging him not to act.
Obama has kept a low profile since Trump took office, but said during his final press conference as president that he would speak out if Trump threatened “kids who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are American kids, and send them someplace else, when they love this country.”
“They are our kids’ friends and their classmates, and are now entering into community colleges or in some cases serving in our military,” he said, adding that the: “notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn’t do anything wrong themselves, I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.”
Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas and Erica Werner contributed to this report.