The Trump administration has ended an Obama-era policy that protected undocumented immigrants with children who are United States citizens or permanent residents, but will, at least for now, keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers protection for children brought to the country illegally.
In a news release issued Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security indicated that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly decided to end the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans policy, because there was “no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”
The Homeland Security news release also indicated that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—which offers 750,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children the chance to attend school and to work—will remain in place for now.
“The fact that DACA was not rescinded by the same memo should not be interpreted as bearing any relevance on the longterm future of that program,” department spokeswoman Jenny Burke wrote in a statement to Education Week.
“The future of the DACA program continues to be under review with the administration. With regard to DACA, the president has remarked on the need to handle the issue with compassion and with heart. Secretary Kelly recognizes that Congress is the only entity that can provide ... a longterm solution to this issue.”
Current participants will be eligible to seek a two-year extension and “no work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates,” a fact sheet from the department indicated.
Established by then-President Barack Obama in 2014, DAPA offered deportation reprieves and working papers to undocumented parents of children who are either U.S. citizens or have legal residency here and who have lived in the United States for at least five years.
The executive order could have lifted the deportation threat for parents of millions of America’s K-12 students and eased longstanding concerns among educators about separating school-aged children from their parents or guardians. When Obama rolled out the program, it drew praise from some educators and immigration advocates and criticism from Republicans in Congress who say the president overstepped his authority.
Until Kelly acted, the policy had remained in legal limbo since early 2015. After Texas and 25 other states challenged the legality of the program, a federal appeals court blocked the program. The U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in its consideration of the case.
Some civil rights groups criticized the timing of Kelly’s announcement, which coincided with the anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that declared children are entitled to receive a free public K-12 education in the United States regardless of their immigration status.
“Demonstrating its characteristic obtuseness with respect to civil rights history, the Trump Administration chose the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe, a singular achievement for immigrants’ rights, as the day to rescind the 2014 initiative of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which would protect from removal millions of immigrant parents raising children in the U.S.,” said Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Homeland Security news release also indicated that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which offers 750,000 immigrants brought to the country illegally as children the chance to attend school and to work, will remain in place for now.
President Donald Trump has said his administration was developing a plan on how to deal with individuals covered by DACA, but no formal changes have been announced.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.