Former President Barack Obama ripped the Trump administration's announcement to cancel his DACA executive action on Tuesday, writing in a Facebook post that it was "cruel" and "self-defeating."
Obama had signaled that he would speak out if President Donald Trump went after his 2012 action, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It shielded 800,000 young illegal immigrants from deportation who were brought to the U.S. as children.
"Today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again," Obama wrote. "To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is ff-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?"
Without ever specifically naming Trump, Obama said the DACA cancellation was a "political decision" and that it was wrong to "threaten the future" of young people who pose no threat.
"Ultimately, this is about basic decency," he wrote. "This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be."
Obama explained his executive action by saying he asked Congress to pass a bill to protect the "Dreamers" and no such bill ever came.
"And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country," Obama wrote. "We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm."
To target hopeful young strivers who grew up here is wrong, because they’ve done nothing wrong. My statement: https://t.co/TCxZdld7L4
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 5, 2017
Trump criticized Obama in a statement for bypassing Congress, and the White House has called on Congress to pass legislation to replace DACA within the next six months before it begins to phase out. It is unclear what the administration would do if Congress fails to pass a replacement.
In his announcement of the program's cancellation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called DACA an "unconstitutional exercise" of executive authority by Obama and said the Department of Justice could not defend such overreach.
Obama said the White House had "shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress" and it was up to them to protect Dreamers.