Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have played a role in the lawsuit that could possibly prompt President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
On Sept. 3, journalist Molly Ball of The Atlantic alleged that Sessions may have encouraged nine state attorneys general to continue their lawsuit against DACA in order to tie Trump's hands over the issue.
"The Department of Justice denies that Jeff Sessions has played any role in what the attorneys general are doing, but he has spoken approvingly about it," Ball told CNN.
In 2012, former President Barack Obama's administration implemented DACA for undocumented immigrants who had moved to the U.S. when they were younger than 16 years of age. The program granted temporary work permits, the ability to apply for a driver's license or enroll in college, and protections from deportation to applicants who had resided in the U.S. since 2007.
As of March 31, over 780,000 undocumented immigrants were enrolled in DACA. These applicants are also known as "Dreamers."
While Trump pledged on the campaign trail to end the program, he appeared to change course after assuming office. On April 21, the president told The Associated Press that Dreamers could "rest easy."
Trump added that his administration was "not after dreamers, we are after the criminals."
On June 29, state Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas and eight other state attorneys general announced that they would resume their paused lawsuit against the DACA program on Sept. 5 if Trump did not end it, the Washington Examiner reports.
On June 30, Sessions praised the attorneys general during an interview.
"I like ... that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that is to enforce the law," Sessions told Fox News.
On Sept. 3, sources familiar with White House deliberations disclosed that Trump would announce the end of the DACA on Sept. 5, with a delay of six months, Politico reports.
Ball asserted that Session's strict stance on immigration enforcement and his praise of the state lawsuit indicated that he had been quietly applying pressure on the president to follow through on his pledge to end DACA.
"[Sessions] has said he welcomes the administration being held accountable by the states and a lot of people involved in this issue in and out of the administration suspect that actually the attorney general is sort of behind the scenes encouraging this action," Ball said.
A conservative immigration-reform advocate who requested anonymity asserted that Trump would have to end DACA in order to back up his immigration rhetoric on the campaign trail.
"He's been on the record countless times [in favor of] DACA, and now he's forfeited leadership on this issue," the conservative advocate told The Atlantic. "Should he be [upset] by that?"
Meanwhile, a liberal immigration advocate who also requested anonymity fired back that Trump "is driving the Republican Party into one place they tried to avoid -- being blamed for the government hunting down and deporting kids."