As expected, the Trump administration announced that it is planning on revoking the status of DREAMers—undocumented residents of the US who immigrated as children, more than a decade ago.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the decision at a press conference on Tuesday morning, stripping roughly 800,000 people of temporary protection from deportation granted by the Obama administration in 2012.
Sessions noted that there would be a “wind down” period, which was previously reported as lasting a half-year.
“This will enable [the Department of Homeland Security] to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act—should it so choose,” he noted.
Some Republican lawmakers have already reacted to the move by calling for Congress to grant status to DREAMers. Those who have spoken out in favor of the program include Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he hoped Congress “with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”
Trump had previously said that he wasn’t interested in deporting DREAMers.
The possibility of legislated status was blasted by at least one far-right legislator.
“Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) tweeted over the weekend.
President Obama first granted status to DREAMers in 2012, through the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrival (DACA) executive order.
Obama then extended DACA in 2014 and granted protection to the parents of DREAMERs. The decree was ruled invalid last year by a shorthanded Supreme Court.
Justices were deadlocked on a case involving the DACA extension, upholding the precedent issued by the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“If you keep on blocking judges from getting on the bench, then courts can’t issue decisions,” Obama said in reaction to the decision, referencing Republicans’ refusal to consider Merrick Garland, his final Supreme Court nominee.
On Tuesday morning, Sessions justified the Trump administration, in part, by referencing that Supreme Court ruling.
Sessions also justified the decision by claiming DACA encouraged a wave of child migration from Central America in 2014—despite the fact that the temporary status was only extended to minors who came before June 15, 2007.
The cohort of children migrants a few years ago was sparked by Drug War-related violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
In 2015, as a US Senator, Sessions also made dubious claims about the motivation of those fleeing violence to seek refuge in Europe, in record numbers. He said that up to 75 percent of them were “economic migrants.”
Current White House aide Stephen Miller–then a press officer for Sessions–cited far-right European sources, when asked where Sessions obtained the statistic.