Hours after the Trump administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, former President Barack Obama weighed in to defend the program he created and question the motives for terminating it.
“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question,” Obama wrote in an 843-word Facebook post. “Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
DACA, an Obama-era program that gives protection to an estimated 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, remains a divisive issue in Washington and around the country.
While anti-immigration groups cheered Trump’s decision, today’s announcement that the White House will end the program sparked protests and demonstrations around the country. Many of the DACA program’s beneficiaries are students and teachers in the nation’s K-12 classrooms.
Trump vowed to repeal the program during the presidential campaign, though he later used sympathetic rhetoric when referring to the beneficiaries of DACA. Nearly 10 months after Election Day, he kept that promise. His administration has begun a six-month process to wind-down the program, allowing Congress time to pass immigration reform legislation and perhaps save the so-called DREAMers from deportation.
“It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future,” Obama wrote in his post.
“I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.”
Photo Credit: Diego Rios, 23, of Rockville, Md., rallies in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, outside of the White House on Sept. 5.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.