AUSTIN, Texas — President Donald Trump has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects about 800,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
Trump made the announcement in a White House meeting with federal, state and local leaders.
The order, which would not extend the program, is meant to address concerns that DACA recipients are being used as political pawns by Republicans to undermine the administration’s immigration overhaul and could spur other states to do the same.
The decision to extend DACA is not surprising.
Trump has said he intends to use DACA to push through an executive order that would rescind a law granting legal protections to nearly 800,00 people, including those brought to this country illegally as minors, when the clock runs out for Congress to act on the immigration bill.
Trump said the DACA extension is necessary to “protect the American people.”
“The president believes that DACA is a model that can be applied to many other cases, and so we’re extending DACA to protect the American worker and the American taxpayer,” White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement.
The president’s announcement comes after a pair of other recent decisions by Trump that could put the country at greater risk of deportation.
Last week, the president issued a directive directing the Justice Department to begin immediately seeking the removal of more than 500,000 immigrants who were convicted of federal crimes, including murder, terrorism and child abuse, as well as other non-violent offenses.
And last month, Trump signed an order to end the program that allows nearly 800 people to stay in the country pending deportation hearings.DACA was originally created by Congress in 2012 to allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to remain in the U: Those who were not citizens or lawful permanent residents were given temporary protected status, and the rest of the population was given a two-year deferment period before deportation.
But a group of conservative groups, led by former President Barack Obama, and several states sued to block the program in court, saying the federal government had no legal authority to set DACA aside.
The Trump administration responded by saying DACA recipients should be given priority for deportation.
“The administration will not take action to reverse DACA until DACA recipients have been determined to pose a risk to public safety or public health,” Hicks said.
“The president continues to urge Congress to take action on DACA, and he remains committed to enforcing the law as it stands.”