President Trump is expected on Friday to announce plans to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which gave a deportation reprieve to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants also known as "dreamers", Fox News reports. Under DACA, nearly 800,000 people brought to the country illegally as children received work permits and deferral from deportation.
Trump had originally promised to terminate DACA during his presidential campaign, but since taking office had left the door open to preserving parts of it. According to Fox, which cites a senior administration official, Trump will announce the program's end but will allow so-called “dreamers” currently in the program to stay in the U.S. until their work permits expire – which, for some, could be as long as two years.
The program, which was instituted through an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, has been facing a legal challenge from Texas and nine other states, which threatened court action to attempt to block it unless Trump rescinds DACA by Sept. 5.
However, on Thursday afternoon, White House officials on Thursday pushed back on the Fox News report, claiming no decision has been made. “A final decision on that front has not been made,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during today's press briefing. “When we have a final decision, this is under review, there are a lot of components that need to be looked at." She then told a reporter "No offense to your colleagues from Fox News, but I’m better informed than they are … it has not been finalized.”
“A final decision on that front has not been made, and when it is, we will certainly inform everybody in this room,” she said.
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert added that "the administration is still reviewing the policy," and said the lawsuits "won't affect the policy decision, but it will affect the timing of it. We certainly have to watch the lawsuits and how they matriculate through the courts and when the deadlines will be."
According to The HIll, Trump and senior administration officials, including White House chief of staff John Kelly, have said they don't believe DACA would hold up in court, while the DOJ has declined to say whether it would defend the program from the potential lawsuit.
Rumors have been circulating for weeks about how Trump plans to respond to the threat of court action, prompting Democrats, some Republicans and activists to mount a public defense of the program.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced amendments Tuesday that would prevent public funds from being used to alter the memo that instituted DACA in 2012.
And California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said Monday his office was considering mounting a defense of the program if the Justice Department refuses to act.
A plan to allow DACA to simply lapse already has buy-in from conservative groups that want the president to end the program. “Our position has been that President Trump should allow DACA to lapse,” Ira Mehlman from the Federation for American Immigration Reform told Fox News. “As people's two-year deferments and work authorization expire they should not be renewed.”
Ironically, in an interview with ABC News earlier this year, Trump suggested he might not entirely do away with DACA. “They shouldn’t be very worried,” Trump said of the young people in the program. “I do have a big heart.”
Meanwhile, Democrats on Thursday expressed opposition to the move, referencing the president’s past comments. “If he ends DACA, Trump would betray #DREAMers he said he'd treat w/ ‘great heart.’ These incredible young people make our country stronger,” tweeted Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee.