As the Trump Administration moved to end President Obama's DACA program, which allowed younger illegal immigrants to gain temporary work permits in the United States and avoid the threat of being deported, the changes unveiled today won't lead to immediate deportations of those people, as officials said Tuesday that the program will be phased out in an "orderly fashion," giving Congress time to take possible legislative action to deal with those immigrant "Dreamers."
"I'm here today to announce that the program known as DACA, that was effectuated under the Obama Administration, is being rescinded," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws," Sessions added in a statement at the Justice Department.
The Attorney General took no questions after his statement.
The move impacts around 800,000 people who are currently in the United States illegally.
"This Administration’s decision to terminate DACA was not taken lightly," said Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke. "The Department of Justice has carefully evaluated (DACA's) Constitutionality and determined it conflicts with our existing immigration laws."
"With the measures the Department is putting in place today, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018, nearly six months from now," Duke added, as President Donald Trump left the door open for Congress "to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions."
In Congress, some Republicans said they were willing to get to work on a measure to deal with the Dreamers who might lose their legal status in the future.
"It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the President’s leadership, will be able to find consensus," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach. However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who — for all practical purposes — know no country other than America," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
"In the coming months, Congress must address this issue," said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).
While Democrats endorsed the idea of Congress acting on DACA, they denounced the President's move.
"Ripping away legal protections for 800,000 DREAMers who make vital contributions to America is cowardly, Mr. President," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) on Tuesday morning.
"Dreamers grew up in America. It’s their home. Ending the program, deporting them back to a country they don’t even know, would be cruel," said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
As mentioned above, the changes on DACA would not result in immediate deportations, as DACA recipients would still have a window to file requests to renew their work permits.
In a conference call with reporters, senior DHS officials reiterated that explanation repeatedly, saying that DACA grantees won't have their legal status revoked, and that the feds will act on work permit renewals received by March of 2018.
But at some point in coming years, the renewals of the work permits would run out - and those people in the U.S. illegally would once again be subject to deportation.