Photographer: Kholood Eid/Bloomberg

Trump Ends One Obama Immigration Program, But Dreamers Can Stay

Updated on
  • White House says still hasn’t made final determination on DACA
  • Program for immigrant parents had been blocked by courts

The Trump administration said that an Obama-era program preventing the deportation of children brought to the U.S. illegally would continue, but ended a second program intended to protect undocumented parents of American children that had been blocked by a court.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement late Thursday announcing it would formally end the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, or DAPA, that would have protected from deportation as many as five million undocumented immigrant whose children are U.S. citizens. The program never took effect after a Texas court blocked it.

The statement also said that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, would continue. A related document the department issued said that participants -- known as “Dreamers” -- “will continue to be eligible” to renew their status every two years. The program shields them from deportation proceedings and allows them to receive work permits. The administration won’t seek to terminate current work permits prior to their expiration dates, the department said.

President Donald Trump declared as a candidate that he would end DACA, but once taking office he softened his view considerably. “We’re gonna show great heart,” he said in a February news conference, calling participants in DACA “incredible kids.”

The White House said that the DHS statement did not indicate a final decision had been made to continue DACA indefinitely. “The only decision that was made was to rescind DAPA,” White House spokesman Michael Short said on Friday.

Still, the decision not to end both programs is the latest signal Trump is likely to reverse his campaign promise. In an August speech in Phoenix, Trump said Obama’s actions “defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty” to undocumented immigrants. However, former President Barack Obama personally lobbied Trump to keep the policy for Dreamers in place in an Oval Office meeting shortly after the election.

Lee Francis Cissna, the president’s pick to run the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told senators at his confirmation hearing that the administration intended to keep the policy in place.

“If confirmed, I would see my role to administer that program well, as it stands,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of early enrollees in the program faced uncertainty about their future status under Trump. About 512,000 unauthorized immigrants could be eligible to renew their protections in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to a Pew Research analysis.

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