President Trump's March 5 deadline for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) immigration program isn't etched in stone, and Trump says he's willing to "give it some more time" if Congress doesn't step in to help the DREAMers first, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said outside a town hall event in Tulsa on Thursday night. "The president's comment to me," he said, "was that, 'We put a six-month deadline out there. Let's work it out. If we can't get it worked out in six months, we'll give it some more time, but we've got to get this worked out legislatively.'" A Lankford spokesman tells The Washington Post that Trump made the comments in a phone call with the senator last month.
Democrats and some Republicans are pushing for a vote on the DREAM Act, and Lankford is offering a more conservative alternative called the SUCCEED Act that offers young undocumented immigrants a 15-year path to citizenship but bars them from pulling their parents along. "I think we'll be actually voting on something like this in January or February," Lankford said. "These are kids that have grown up here. I'm not interested in deporting them and kicking them out. But I'm also not interested in them ending up in a limbo status on this." A bipartisan deal looked plausible until Trump released a list of hardline demands on Sunday night. Peter Weber
More than 100,000 DACA recipients submitted renewal requests before the Trump administration's deadline
Thursday marks the final day for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status renewal requests as the Trump administration moves to "wind down" the Obama-era program that grants work permits to young immigrants brought into America illegally as children. Of the 154,000 people whose status will expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, more than 106,000 have submitted requests or had their renewals adjudicated, ABC News reports. The Department of Homeland Security reports that around 48,000 eligible immigrants have not sought to renew their status.
DACA serves approximately 700,000 "DREAMers" around the country, including many who grew up in America and have no memory of their countries of birth. "I can definitely work back in Morocco with an American degree in computer science," Achraf Jellal, who moved to New York when he was 4, told NPR's Morning Edition. "But I've never been there. I don't know any of my family, actually."
The Trump administration has passed off a DACA decision to Congress, although if there is no action in the next five months, recipients will lose benefits beginning March 6, 2018. "We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. It's just that simple," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said when announcing the Trump administration's decision earlier this year. Jeva Lange
Democrats and Republicans alike issued statements Tuesday criticizing the Trump administration's handling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement that the Obama-era policy would be rescinded. On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed a slightly different opinion: "I think the president made the right decision by giving [Congress] six months," he told Today.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 6, 2017
As Graham explained, "the compassionate thing to do is to give these kids legal status, let them become citizens," further noting, as many have, that "they lived their life in America. They would add great value to our country." But Graham added that "in terms of the law, 10 attorney generals filed a lawsuit today suggesting that DACA was unconstitutional. They were going to win in court."
Others have nevertheless been critical of Trump's handling of DACA, with The Washington Post writing that the president "has temporarily placed the fates of roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children in the hands of Congress, buying himself time and shunting responsibility."
At The Week, Damon Linker remains skeptical that Congress will save DACA. "Despite an overwhelming majority of the country favoring such a compromise, Congress has repeatedly failed to act," he writes. Read more on the democratic dysfunction here. Jeva Lange
Democrats and Republicans alike reacted Tuesday to the Trump administration's official announcement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, is being rescinded. "The president has revealed he is as heartless as he is uninformed," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) added: "I strongly believe that children who were illegally brought into this country through no fault of their own should not be forced to return to a country they do not know."
John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that DREAMers — so named after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — "continue to make positive contributions to Texas and the nation," while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called it "simply wrong to needlessly target hardworking young adults in order to score political points."
Many other lawmakers and organizations went on record with criticism of the administration's decision:
Very forceful pro-DACA statement from the Republican-aligned Chamber of Commerce pic.twitter.com/kj4dNQ1s9A
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) September 5, 2017
Javier Palomarez, the head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, resigned from Trump's National Diversity Council in response to the administration's decision, CNN reports. "We're dealing with a president that gave his word, that promised that he would take care of these 800,000 young people," Palomarez said earlier Tuesday. "If he gets rid of DACA, he's showing that he is a liar." Jeva Lange
Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced Tuesday that the Trump administration will "rescind" Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that grants work permits to young immigrants brought into America illegally as children and currently benefits roughly 800,000 individuals.
"Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering," Sessions said in his remarks, adding that "the compassionate thing is to end lawlessness, enforce our laws, and if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our Founders in a way that advances the interest of the nation."
Sessions added that "we are a people of compassion and a people of law. ... Nothing is compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws."
Trump told reporters Friday that "we love the DREAMers, we think the DREAMers are terrific," referring to the individuals protected by the DREAM Act. But Trump reportedly struggled with the decision to end the program and asked his aides for a "way out" of the corner he backed himself into on the campaign trail by promising to end it, The New York Times reports. Even many Republicans have signaled wanting a softer approach to DACA than what Sessions outlined.
"Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering," Sessions said. "Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence, and even terrorism." Watch below. Jeva Lange
AG Jeff Sessions announces DACA is being rescinded. pic.twitter.com/sVzS0abKPh
— Chenue Her (@ChenueHer) September 5, 2017
President Trump is preparing to "phase out" Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that grants work permits to young immigrants brought into America illegally as children, and currently benefits roughly 800,000 "DREAMers," ABC News reports.
Ahead of the official announcement from the White House, ABC News writes that the administration reportedly "won't consider new applications for legal status dated after Sept. 5" but that "applications filed before Tuesday that are pending will continue to be processed." Additionally, "anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018, can apply for a two-year renewal" and "some DREAMers, those with permits that expire between now and March 5, will be eligible for legal status for another two-plus years."
Trump reportedly turned to his aides for help on DACA after making promises on the campaign trail to eliminate the program. "Mr. Trump, exasperated, asked his aides for 'a way out' of a dilemma he created," The New York Times writes. Even many Republicans have signaled wanting a softer approach to DACA than Trump has indicated he is prepared to take.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an immigration hardliner, will formally announce the DACA decision at 11 a.m. ET. He won't take questions after making the announcement. Read more about what the administration is expected to announce at ABC News. Jeva Lange
On Tuesday, a reportedly deeply conflicted President Trump is expected to send Attorney General Jeff Sessions out to announce an end to the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for some 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but give Congress six months to come up with a solution before Trump's action takes effect. Nothing is final until Trump gives the word, however, the White House emphasized. Killing DACA would fulfill a campaign promise but appear to violate Trump's presidential pledge to treat DREAMers with "heart" and give them no cause for alarm.
Over the weekend, an "exasperated" Trump asked his aides for "a way out" of this DACA dilemma, two people familiar with the exchange told The New York Times. But the six-month compromise crafted by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will please nobody. Here are three reasons ending DACA is bad politics for Trump.
1. Unlike some other immigration issues, allowing DREAMers to stay has broad support, even among Republicans. These aren't Trump's gang-banging "bad hombres," they're college students, tax-paying young professionals, members of the U.S. armed forces, and people who die trying to save fellow Houstonians from floodwaters.
2. Trump's relationship with congressional Republicans is already strained enough without Trump throwing what one official describes to the Times as "an unpinned hand grenade at Capitol Hill Republicans." Moderate and several conservative Republicans, plus all Democrats, support extending residency if not a path to citizenship to DREAMers, but the devil is in the details, and Congress already has fragile debt-ceiling negotiations, spending bills, and hurricane relief to pass this fall, not to mention tackling the GOP wish list of tax cuts.
3. Trump is already "cornered, weakened," and isolated, and now he's frittering away his remaining power by "shooting the hostages," Ben Smith writes at BuzzFeed News. Instead of holding the Obama-era "hostages" — the Paris climate accord, TPP trade deal, Iran nuclear deal, and DACA — for political leverage, he's choosing attention-grabbing terminating over power. "Now, if Trump kills DACA to please his base he'll be getting the worst of both political worlds," Smith argues. "He'll inflict real pain on hundreds of thousands of people to reassure his 30-some percent that he's with them. And politically speaking, he'll have given up a bargaining chip for nothing, and spent away a bit more of his political capital. That's not strategy, it's a panicked move in a corner." Peter Weber
On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to announce that he is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program but will delay implementation for six months, presumably to give Congress time to enact a legislative solution for the so-called DREAMers, or young immigrants brought here illegally as children. Trump had promised to end DACA while campaigning for president, but the move isn't popular with corporate leaders, some top Republicans, most GOP voters, the broader electorate, or, it turns out, members of Trump's loyal evangelical advisory board.
Trump has turned to his evangelical advisory board for policy advice since the campaign, and its multi-ethnic members have remained at Trump's side after the Access Hollywood tape captured Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, and other rocky patches. Only one of the two dozen evangelical leaders quit after Trump's equivocal response to white supremacists marching in Charlottesville, even as members of Trump's corporate advisory boards jumped ship. At a meeting in the Oval Office last Friday, a handful of the evangelical advisers urged Trump to show compassion for the DREAMers, one participant, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, tells The Washington Post.
This is the kind of issue that keeps the evangelical pastors at Trump's table, Franklin explained. "If I resign every time [the president] does something I don't agree with, then I lose the ability to have influence and speak up for the DREAMer children [and] the minorities that feel offended and hurt by the Charlottesville incident," he said. "That is why I am supposed to be there."
Other evangelical leaders offered slightly different reasons for maintaining close contact with Trump, including Christian empathy. But, notes the Post's Frances Stead Sellers, "for many, there is a pragmatic reason to stand with Trump. The president won the election with the support of 81 percent of white evangelicals," and his rollback of gay rights, pick of Mike Pence as vice president, and nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court have been very popular with conservative Christians. You can read more at The Washington Post, and hear why Trump may be trying to play both sides of the DACA issue in the CNN discussion below. Peter Weber