Former President Barack Obama has criticized President Donald Trump's Sept. 5 decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Obama, who introduced the program in 2012 to enable those who arrived in the U.S. as children to stay and receive authorization to work, released a statement following Trump's announcement, Axios reported.
"These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper," said Obama, according to Axios.
Trump's decision to end DACA also includes a six-month period for Congress to come up with an alternative. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will stop processing DACA applications as of Sept. 5.
"Today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again," Obama added in his statement. "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. And it is cruel."
Obama concluded his statement by appealing to Congress to take action to ensure those affected by the rescinding of DACA can remain in the US.
Ten conservative states opposed to DACA set a Sept. 5 deadline for the president to end the program, NPR notes. The states vowed to sue the U.S. government f the president did not rescind DACA by the deadline they set.
According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, DACA would not have been likely to withstand a court challenge.
"The Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach," added Sessions, according to CNN. "There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, (and) enforce our laws."
In a statement on DACA, Trump blamed Obama for introducing the law by means of an executive order.
"It is now time for Congress to act!" said the president.
Trump reiterated his commitment to his "America First" agenda.
"As I've said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion -- but through the lawful Democratic process -- while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve," he added. "We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans."