As the September 5 deadline nears for President Donald Trump to announce a decision on whether to end or preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, top Republicans have begun urging him not to rescind the controversial Obama-era policy.
Rumours have abounded in recent days that Trump is likely to end DACA, which offers temporary protection from deportation to roughly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
But according to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, rescinding DACA now would do more harm than good.
“I’ve urged the president not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution,” Hatch said in a statement.
He continued: “Like the president, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here.”
Both Ryan and Hatch said the solution must instead come from Congress through a broader reform of the nation’s immigration system. When asked about DACA during an interview with the Wisconsin radio station WCLO on Friday, Ryan said Congress was already working on a legislative fix that would keep the program in place.
“Yeah, I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said of the possibility that Trump will rescind the program.
“Let me back up for a second — President Obama does not have the authority to do what he did. You can’t, as an executive, write law out of thin air,” Ryan continued. “Having said all of that, there are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home.”
Trump was required to announce a decision by September 5 after 10 attorneys general issued an ultimatum in June, threatening to sue the administration over DACA unless the program was rescinded. The attorneys general called DACA “unlawful” and said it “unilaterally confers eligibility for work authorization … and lawful presence without any statutory authorization from Congress.”
On Friday, Trump told reporters that a decision would come “sometime today or over the weekend.”
“We’ll have a decision. We’ll issue it sometime over the weekend, maybe this afternoon,” he said.
Trump has wavered back and forth on DACA in the past. He repeatedly vowed during his presidential campaign he would terminate the program immediately upon taking office, yet in recent months has conceded the issue is a nuanced one that he would approach “with heart.”
“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 said at a February news conference. “But you have some absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly — they were brought here in such a way. It’s a very, very tough subject.”
On Friday at the White House, he said, “We love the DREAMERs. We love everybody. … We think the DREAMERs are terrific.”
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