The Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday night that it intends to continue the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which protects illegal immigrants who came to the United States as small children from deportation.
So-called "dreamers" enrolled in the 2012 program will continue to be eligible to renew every two years, and their work authorization permits will not be terminated "prior to their current expiration dates," the New York Times reported. The DACA program affects about 800,000 U.S. residents.
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The Times characterized the Trump administration's decision to keep DACA in place as a reversal of one of President Donald Trump's campaign promises. While on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to "immediately terminate" DACA.
In a January interview with ABC, however, Trump said that dreamers "shouldn't be very worried. I do have a big heart. We're going to take care of everybody."
The DHS announcement was met with celebration from pro-immigration activists.
"This is a big victory for dreamers amid months of draconian and mean-spirited immigration enforcement policy," David Leopold, an immigration lawyer, told the Times.
"The preservation of DACA is a tribute to the strength of the dreamer movement and an acknowledgment—at least in part—by the Department of Homeland Security that it should not be targeting undocumented immigrants who have strong ties to their communities and have abided by the law," Leopold said.
At the same time that it preserved DACA, DHS announced the formal end of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program, or DAPA, which former President Barack Obama proposed in 2015 to protect close to five million illegal residents from deportation. DAPA was never enacted, however, after 26 state attorneys general legally challenged it. A Texas court blocked the program and the Supreme Court deadlocked, 4-4, on a challenge to that ruling.
The Trump administration ended litigation with Thursday's announcement.
DACA: for Dreamers. Enacted 2012. Still in effect.
DAPA: for parents. NEVER ENACTED due to litigation. Killed 2017 as technicality.
— Dara Lind (@DLind) June 16, 2017