U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce Tuesday his decision to end a program that protects from deportation people who were brought to the United States illegally while they were children.
Officials who described the move to journalists said it would come with a six-month delay meant to give Congress time to address the issue. Lawmakers were not involved in instituting the program, which was created through an executive order by former President Barack Obama.
The officials also cautioned that Trump could change his mind.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has given nearly 800,000 people a reprieve from deportation by providing two-year, renewable work permits for eligible applicants.
Unclear Monday was what would happen if Congress did not take any action before the six-month window ended, or what happens to someone whose work permit comes up for renewal during that period.
Trump pledged during his campaign for president to eliminate DACA, calling it “amnesty.” Since taking office he has said the issue is one of the most difficult he has dealt with as president.
Many of the people involved in the program came to the U.S. as young children and have no connections to their home country.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and several other Republican lawmakers are urging the president not to cancel the program. Ryan says he believes Congress should come up with a way of protecting people now in the DACA program.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has asked Ryan to work with Democrats this week to find a legislative solution for the people sometimes referred to as “Dreamers.”
King favors end to DACA
As news of Trump's impending decision emerged Sunday, some members of Congress used Twitter to express their reaction.
Rep. Steve King was one of the few Republicans to discuss Trump's plan.
“Ending DACA now gives chance 2 restore Rule of Law. Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide,” King wrote.
Sen. Orrin Hatch said he will work with congressional colleagues in the coming months to pass “meaningful immigration reform that will secure our borders, provide a workable path forward for the Dreamer population, and ensure that employers have access to the high-skilled workers they need to succeed in our technology-driven economy.”
Democrats favor the program
But most of the lawmakers who commented were Democrats critical of canceling DACA.
"DACA kids work, study, serve in military. Kicking them out undermines American traditions. This is an enormous moral and economic mistake,” wrote Rep. Brian Schatz.
Rep. Eliot Engel called ending DACA “a cruel mistake,” and said punishing kids for their parents' decisions to seek a better life in the United States is “un-American.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran for president last year, said if Trump does end the program, it would be “one of the ugliest and cruelest decisions” ever made by a U.S. leader.
“If Trump ends DACA, Congress must act immediately to restore it,” Sanders wrote.
Rep. Ted Lieu said the U.S. cannot be great without embracing immigrants and that he will stand with Democratic colleagues to protect Dreamers.
“For all the members of Congress over the past 5 years who said DACA should've been done ‘legislatively’ here's your chance,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro.