Hours after his administration announced it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to force Congress to pass immigration legislation, President Donald Trump tweeted that he would revisit his decision if lawmakers don’t act.
Trump tweeted Tuesday night that Congress has six months to codify into law an Obama administration program allowing young people who were brought into the country as minors to remain legally while working or attending school. But contrary to the harsh stance taken earlier in the day by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the phase out of DACA, the president appeared to signal that the program may not be doomed after all.
Currently, 800,000 people benefit from DACA, which the Obama administration enacted in 2012 in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform. The suspension of the program caused widespread fear in immigrant communities across the country, wondering if the information they’d provided to the government as a part of the registration process could now be used to aid in their deportation.
Sessions played a key part in Trump’s decision to end DACA on a six-month delay. Trump campaigned on harsh immigration policies, including the construction of a southern border wall, and Sessions was among his earliest backers. The attorney general said DACA was illegal and the U.S. “cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”
“It’s just that simple,” Sessions said. Two weeks ago, he told the president he would not defend the program in court.
Others in the administration urged the president to keep DACA, arguing that the young people who benefited from it were brought into the U.S. through no fault of their own. President Barack Obama issued a statement calling Trump’s decision “cruel.”
Earlier Tuesday before Sessions formally announced the administration was ending DACA, Trump called on Congress “to do your job.”
Giving Congress six months to act adds immigration reform, past attempts at which have ended in deadlock, to an already packed legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.