President Donald Trump issued a statement after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that his administration would wind down DACA — former President Barack Obama’s effort to offer executive amnesty to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.
“As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America,” Trump said in a statement of over 900 words. “At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents.”
Trump signaled that DACA recipients could extend their permits for up to two years and that pending applications would continue processing.
“This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out,” the statement read. “Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.”
Trump’s statement tried to explain why legally he had to end the program, despite his concerns for young people who benefited from the amnesty bestowed by Obama.
He reminded Americans that Obama previously admitted that he could not act with his executive authority to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants, but did it anyway. He agreed with Sessions’ statement that Obama’s DACA program let to a border crisis in 2014.
Trump also said that several states threatened to sue over the legality of the program and even signaled his support for immigration reform.
“There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will,” he wrote.
But the president noted that amnesty for illegal immigrants was not fair to American families.
“Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and jobseekers,” he said.
Trump also asserted that he wanted to help Americans first.
“Above all else, we must remember that young Americans have dreams too,” he said.
Trump called on members of Congress in both parties to come together and pass immigration reform.
“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful Democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” he said.