Thousands in the U.S. are protesting a government decision to scrap a program protecting nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The group – known as “Dreamers” – were brought to the country as children.
But, they gained the right to legal work and study under then-President Barack Obama. The move to end the program fulfills a presidential campaign pledge from Donald Trump.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg has more.
The announcement to suspend the program, known as DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, came on Tuesday, not from the White House, but from the U.S. Justice Department.
“To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It’s just that simple. That would be an open borders policy, and the American people have rightly rejected that,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.
The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump made the controversial decision over the weekend, after careful consideration phasing it out in six-months. Trump urged the U.S. Congress to pass wide-ranging immigration reform by then.
“I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly. And I can tell you in speaking to members of Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right,” U.S. President Donald Trump said.
DACA gave those who came to the U.S. unlawfully, as minors, the chance to now work legally as adults – a sort of retroactive visa. The Obama-era program saw hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants coming out of the shadows and registering with the government.
Critics said DACA amounted to amnesty, and Trump-the-candidate vowed to get rid of it.
On Tuesday, Barack Obama, who introduced DACA five years ago through Presidential decree, called the move cruel.
Breaking his silence on Facebook, the former President wrote:
“To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love
Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”
Outside the White House, activists in support of rights for immigrants gathered to protest the announcement.
“I think that the same struggles that white workers in rural America are facing are connected to the struggles that the immigrants are facing in the U.S., and so we need to unite to arrive at a common solution. Otherwise, we’re falling into the trap of fighting each other and not finding a real solution,” church pastor Carmelo Santos said.
Hundreds of American business leaders have urged President Trump, and Congress, to keep DACA in place. Dumping it, they say, could cost the economy nearly half a trillion dollars.
But, the White House said revoking DACA could mean more jobs for unemployed Americans, who are in the country, legally.
As part of the DACA program, so-called “Dreamers” – the recipients — have to reapply every two years. After the program expires, no one will be able to renew, leaving the status of many in limbo. U.S. immigration officials say they won’t be a priority for deportation. But, they note, those who break the law will no longer be protected.
David Leopold discusses the constitutionality of the DACA immigration program
Civil liberties, immigration, and other legal groups are vowing to fight the Trump administration’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program allowed nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought the U.S. as children to stay in the country while seeking permanent status. Many have criticized the program as unconstitutional executive overreach. David Leopold, an immigration lawyer at the Ulmer law firm, discusses this claim, and what happens next.