President Donald Trump is reportedly leaning towards ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who were raised in the U.S. since childhood from deportation. These undocumented immigrants have been referred to as "Dreamers."
On Aug. 24, several sources familiar with White House deliberations told Axios that Trump was considering ending DACA. On Aug. 25, several Trump administration officials who requested anonymity told NBC News that Trump was leaning towards ending the program.
It remains unclear whether the president would immediately rescind all DACA members' protections or prohibit them from re-enrolling in the program. The president's decision would have to arrive before early September, when the Trump administration would have to defend the program in federal court.
In June 2012, former President Barack Obama instituted DACA through an executive order. The program allowed undocumented immigrants who were 30 years old or younger to be given protections from deportation and a legal work permit if they could prove that they were brought to the U.S. after 2007 and before they turned 16 years old. They also had to prove that they had lived in the country for at least five years and had not been convicted of any crimes, according to Vox.
Five years after the program was installed, at least 780,000 undocumented immigrants have enrolled. If Trump rescinds the program, those members would lose their work permits and be vulnerable to deportation.
While Trump pledged on the campaign trail to end DACA, he left room for maintaining the program after assuming office. On Feb. 16, the president disclosed that he had not made up his mind about the program.
"We are gonna deal with DACA with heart," Trump said during a White House press conference, according to Politico.
“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,” Trump continued. “In some of the cases, they’re having DACA and they’re gang members and they’re drug members, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids -- I would say mostly -- they were brought in here in such a way. It’s a very, very tough subject.”
On June 29, state Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas and 10 others attorneys general penned a letter urging the Department of Justice to end DACA. Paxton and his colleagues warned that they would challenge the program in federal courts if a decision was not made by Sept. 5.
Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration enforcement, asserted that the attorneys general request marked a death knell for DACA.
"The only way to keep DACA would be for the Justice Department to defend the legality of the program," Krikorian told NPR. "I don't see how that's even possible."
If Trump were to discontinue the program, he would likely face fierce backlash from immigration advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers. On Jan. 18, Obama stated during his final presidential press conference that he would publicly speak out against Trump if he decided to end DACA, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn't do something themselves ... would merit my speaking out," Obama said.
United We Dream advocacy director Greisa Martinez Rosas has warned that immigration groups would mobilize against Trump if he ended DACA, asserting that the president had already given overtures to Dreamers that they were safe from deportation.
"Trump said that immigrant youth could 'rest easy'... Now Trump is considering taking protections away from me and 800,000 immigrant youth to make us vulnerable to being chased down by ICE agents, locked in detention camps and deported," Rosas told HuffPost.
Center for American Progress CEO Neera Tanden also blasted reports that Trump would end the program.
"Trump apparently has no qualms about putting lives of DACA recipients on the line simply to score political points with his far-right, anti-immigrant supporters," Tanden said.
On June 16, a Morning Consult survey found that 78 percent of registered voters believed that DACA members should be allowed to remain the in country. The survey also found that 56 percent of respondents supported giving Dreamers a path to citizenship while 14 percent believed they should be deported.
Sources: Axios, HuffPost, Los Angeles Times, Morning Consult, NBC News, NPR, Politico, Vox / Featured Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Flickr, Obama White House/Flickr