Trump expected to halt Obama’s program but allow some Dreamers to stay temporarily – McClatchy Washington Bureau
President Donald Trump is expected to end an Obama-era program that shielded young people from deportation, but he will likely let the immigrants known as Dreamers stay in the United States until their work permits run out, according to multiple people familiar with the policy negotiation.
That plan would allow Trump to fulfill a campaign promise to end one of Barack Obama’s signature initiatives while also giving the president a way to keep the pledge he made after Inauguration Day to treat the Dreamers with “great heart,” said sources on both sides of the issue who are involved in the discussions.
An announcement could come as soon as Friday, just days before a deadline imposed by 10 states that threatened to sue the U.S. government if it did not stop protecting people brought into the country illegally as children.
Advocacy groups that want to preserve the program are urging the White House to ask those states — led by hurricane-ravaged Texas — to postpone their Tuesday deadline. A delay would give those groups more time to negotiate, and it could give Trump the space to avoid making a major policy announcement while his administration is eager to remain focused on hurricane recovery efforts.
But the president is under intense pressure to move quickly to end the program — called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or, more commonly, DACA — from groups that supported his candidacy because of his pro-deportation immigration position and his promise to end this particular program on his first day in office.
“This is something that he has absolutely turned his back on the base on,” said Chris Chmielenski, NumbersUSA’s director of content and activism. “I can’t say it enough. He promised to do it and he has not done it yet.”
The White House certainly could ignore the deadline imposed by the states threatening to sue, and instead leave the issue to the courts or Congress. But his advisors are urging Trump to take the reins.
“He’s been advised that it’s in his political interest for him to be the one to make the decision to terminate the program because he’ll get the credit,” said a source who is familiar with the conversations inside the White House. “And if it’s going to end anyway, why not take the credit for it?”
Trump, the most unpredictable and unconventional U.S. leader in modern times, could still change his mind but three people knowledgeable with the situation say the president is expected to act before the Tuesday deadline.
The idea of allowing the roughly 800,000 immigrants now protected by the program to stay for as long as two years under current work permits is supported even by many of the groups that want DACA scrapped. So long as no new permits would be given and none would be renewed, those groups see the reprieve for current DACA enrollees as necessary.
“It seems to be the most practical way to do it,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that opposes protecting Dreamers and is in talks with the administration.
That window could give Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are sympathetic to these young, undocumented immigrants some time to come up with a plan before most of the recipients lose their status, said a congressional source familiar with the GOP strategy.
64 percent of Americans support allowing Dreamers to stay in the United States, according to NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll released Thursday
After Trump was briefed on the issue last week by his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who has said repeatedly that he believes the program is unconstitutional, the president was prepared to end DACA. But two Republicans involved in the issue said Trump had second thoughts and postponed announcing a decision as he focused on the deadly aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
“I think he’s genuinely conflicted on this and trying to figure it out,” one of the Republicans said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that DACA is still the focus of very lengthy review. “It’s something that’s still being discussed and a final decision hasn’t been made,” she said.