President Donald Trump has asserted that he is fully confident in his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, just as a freshly disclosed White House memo indicated that the Trump administration wanted DACA recipients to self-deport once their protections lapse.
On Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Trump would rescind former President Barack Obama's executive order enacting DACA. The program will be phased out over six months until effectively ending in March 2018.
Implemented in 2012, DACA allowed for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. while under the age of 16 to obtain a temporary working permit to find lawful employment, apply for a driver's license, and enroll in college. The program also shielded these young undocumented immigrants from deportation. There have been nearly 800,000 people enrolled in DACA, many of them wholly unfamiliar with their origin country. DACA recipients are also known as Dreamers.
After Sessions' announcement, Trump took to Twitter, asserting that either Congress would pass legislation to preserve Dreamers' protections before DACA ended or he would "revisit this issue!"
On Sept. 6, Trump was asked by reporters whether his tweet meant that he had regretted his decision to end DACA.
The president responded that he had "no second thoughts."
That same day, journalists obtained an internal White House document that indicated administration staff were expected to message to Dreamers that they should prepare for removal. The document was titled "Talking Points -- DACA Rescission."
"The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange for their departure from the United States -- including proactively seeking travel documentation -- or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible," the document stated.
A senior government official who requested anonymity confirmed that authenticity of the document and asserted that the Trump administration would aim to deport Dreamers once their DACA protections lapsed.
"Once DACA expires, they are in this country illegally," the official told ABC News. "And once that expires, we expect them to no longer remain in our country illegally."
Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan also confirmed the authenticity of the memo.
"As noted, we expect Congress to pass legislation so this will hopefully be a moot point," Lapan told CNN. "However, of course we would encourage persons who are in the country illegally to depart voluntarily, or seek another form immigration benefit for which they might qualify."
The DHS has maintained that Dreamers would not be priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents once their protections ended but that they would still be subject to deportation.
Several immigration lawyers have noted that their Dreamer clients are alarmed by what could happen to them once their protections end. DACA recipients had to turn over their information to the federal government in order to receive deferred status.
"They're in panic mode," immigration attorney Reaz Jafri told Business Insider. "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. 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.'"
On Sept. 5, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 76 percent of registered voters wanted Dreamers to remain in the country while only 15 percent wanted them deported, Politico reports.