The Trump administration will continue to allow reprieve for immigrants who illegally entered the U.S. as children.
The Department of Homeland Security will continue the Obama administration's program to help those who arrived in the country when they were children, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, reports The New York Times.
The program protects the immigrants, known as "Dreamers," from being deported, and helps them obtain work permits so they can be legally employed. The department's new guidance will allow Dreamers to renew their work permits every two years, reports the Daily Beast.
Those "who were issued three-year extensions before the district court’s injunction will not be affected, and will be eligible to seek a two-year extension upon their expiration," according to the guidance the department issued on June 15, USA Today reports. The guidance adds that work permits will not be terminated before they are set to expire.
The decision comes as a reversal of one of President Donald Trump's campaign promises to deport the immigrants protected by this program. During his presidential campaign, Trump said former President Barack Obama had "defied federal law and the Constitution," and that he would "immediately terminate" DACA when he became president.
While Trump will not terminate the DACA program, Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly announced he had rescinded a memo created during Obama's presidency, which protected parents of U.S. citizens from deportation. The memo, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, was never implemented, and was part of an ongoing legal battle before Kelly announced it would be rescinded.
Immigration activists have praised Trump's decision to allow the DACA program to continue.
"This is a big victory for Dreamers amid months of draconian and mean-spirited immigration enforcement policy," said immigration lawyer David Leopold. "The preservation of DACA is a tribute to the strength of the Dreamer movement and an acknowledgment -- at least in part -- by the Department of Homeland Security that it should not be targeting undocumented immigrants who have strong ties to their communities and have abided by the law."
Many of the 800,000 immigrants protected by the DACA program did not know that they were in the country illegally, and many reportedly attended American schools from a young age.
White House officials said on June 16 that the president had not made a decision about what would happen with the program in the long term, and that he may still shut it down and deport the Dreamers or cancel their work permits.
"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," said the Department of Homeland Security's assistant secretary for public affairs, Jonathan Hoffman. Hoffman added that Kelly "has noted that Congress is the only entity that can provide a long-term solution to this issue."