Things are not looking well for the thousands of beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era policy that protected immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors.
Citing two White House sources privy to the discussions, Politico reported that President Donald Trump has indicated that he wanted to end the program but delay its enforcement for six months.
The proposed delay gives Congress time to pass legislation that would somehow mitigate the effects the cancellation will have on the nearly 800,000 DACA beneficiaries dubbed as the Dreamers. Trump is expected to issue an official announcement on Tuesday.
The Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security have held their own internal discussions on the program prior to the White House decision, according to reports.
During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly hinted at terminating DACA, which he deemed as unconstitutional. He has, however, expressed that willingness to consider leniency on the DACA policy upon his victory.
Right after his inauguration in January, Trump told ABC, “They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”
And at a news conference in February, Trump said his administration is “going to deal with DACA with heart,” noting that the decision is “very, very difficult.”
“To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids — in many cases, not in all cases,” he said. “But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought here in such a way. It’s a very, very tough subject.”
The uncertainty around DACA’s future has got the immigrant community in limbo for months, with many DACA recipients unsure of what to do and how to cope with the program’s impending cancellation.
Immigration lawyer Reaz Jafri, who represents many DACA recipients, told Business Insider that many are already in “panic mode”.
“DACA invited people who were in the shadows to come forth, get biometrics taken, get put in the system, get a social security number, get a job, take out a loan, open a bank account, get a credit card,” Jafri was quoted as saying.
“They’re wondering, ‘Now that I’m no longer protected, can ICE now come and find me? Because ICE now knows where I live, where I work.'”
Trump’s decision could mean either an immediate revocation of the protections and work permits for the 800,000 people who already have them or just the non-approval of any new applications for DACA protection.
Either way, the Dreamers would eventually lose protection, it’s just a matter of when it will happen.
Should current DACA recipients be prohibited to renew, some could lose protection within months, while others would remain protected for two years at most, based on the data from USCIS reviewed by CATO Institute.
But more than the immigrants’ potential loss of work permits, there’s a huge threat of deportation too.
If the Trump administration decides to do so, these recipients could be tracked down, arrested, and placed in deportation proceedings once their DACA expires. Considering the extensive personal information the members surrendered to the government when they applied, rounding them up would be easy as an executive order signed by President Trump in January allowed ICE access to such data.