The administration of President Donald Trump will maintain protections for a group of undocumented immigrants shielded from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The White House has signaled that Trump may still dismantle the protections in the future.
On June 15, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memo announcing that the DACA would remain in effect, maintaining protections for undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. at a young age, also known as "DREAMers."
In June 2012, former President Barack Obama created DACA through an executive order.
The program allowed undocumented immigrants to apply for two years of protected status as long as they entered the U.S. before turning 16-years-old, had no serious crimes on their record, and had either attended school or served in the military. If applicants did not run afoul of law enforcement, they could renew their protected status every two years.
During the 2016 presidential race, Trump labeled the formation of the DACA an unconstitutional executive action and pledged to rescind the protections once in office. In February 2016, Trump dismissed the Obama administration's assertion that DREAMers were sympathetic.
"I want dreamers to come from the United States," Trump said, according to RealClearPolitics.
On April 21, Trump signaled that his stance against DACA had softened since winning the 2016 election. The president told the Associated Press that his administration was "not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals."
While Americans have been polarized on the topic of illegal immigration, previous polling indicates that there has been little desire to deport DREAMers.
In November 2016, a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group found that only 28 percent of national adults wanted the DACA program repealed, while 58 percent wanted it to continue, according to America's Vote.
Immigration lawyer David Leopold expressed relief when the DHS announced that DACA would continue.
"This is a big victory for DREAMers amid months of draconian and mean spirited immigration enforcement policy," Leopold told The New York Times. "The preservation of DACA is a tribute to the strength of the DREAMer movement."
On June 16, DHS assistant secretary for public affairs Jonathan Hoffman clarified that the DACA program's ultimate fate was still undecided.
"There has been no final determination made about the DACA program, which the president has stressed needs to be handled with compassion and with heart," Hoffman said.
The statement left open the possibility that Trump could rescind DACA protections in the future. If the program were dismantled, DREAMers could be rounded up and deported with relative ease because they will have provided the government with their information when they applied for protected status.
Roy Beck, president of the anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, expressed frustration that Trump had not already rescinded DACA.
'We regard this as being a really clearly broken promise," Beck told USA Today. "A lot of people say, 'He's in a tough situation, it's hard for him to make a lot of things happen.' But this was an executive order, so he can stop it. You really can't say that the courts or Congress or anybody else is in the way."