Former President Barack Obama lashed out at President Donald Trump's decision to rescind his DACA executive action, labeling the move as 'cruel' in an immediate admonition of his predecessor following the move.
Obama defended DREAMers – people brought here illegally as children –– as 'patriots' who are 'American in their hearts' – and cast Trump's move as 'political' decision.
'To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong,' Obama wrote in a Facebook post published hours after Trump announced his decision in a written statement following a speech by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Former President Barack Obama lashed out at President Donald Trump's decision to rescind his DACA executive action
The White House pushed back that President Donald Trump is not 'cold-hearted,' as critics of his DACA decision have claimed, as it headed into battle with Congress again over the president's illegal immigration demands.
Trump is acting out of 'compassion' for out-of-work Americans who want him to enforce stronger borders,' the president's spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told journalists Tuesday afternoon.
'He's wrestled with this back and forth,' Sanders said, 'in large part is because this is not an easy one.'
But 'you can't allow emotion to govern,' she added, and 'it's not cold-hearted for the president to uphold the law.'
Former President Barack Obama lashed out at President Donald Trump's decision to rescind his DACA executive action
But Obama was not having it.
'It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.'
'What if our kid's science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer?' Obama asked. 'Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn't know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?'
Obama had vowed in his farewell press conference to speak out when he felt the nation's 'core values' were at stake – and mentioned the DREAMers as one of them.
'The notion that we would just arbitrarily or because of politics punish those kids, when they didn't do something themselves ... would merit my speaking out, 'Obama said in January.
In June, he posted an essay blasting the Senate's 'skinny bill' to repeal Obamacare. 'The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It's a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America,' Obama wrote.
'Ultimately, this is about basic decency,' the former president wrote on Tuesday. 'This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we'd want our own kids to be treated. It's about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.'
Obama also revisited the events that led him to issue the controversial order. He issued the sweeping directive after a congressional immigration reform effort collapsed. Trump and Sessions branded it as unconstitutional overreach.
UNFRIEND ME: Former President Barack Obama lashed out at President Trump's decision to undo his executive action creating the DACA program
'Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you've been here a certain number of years, and if you're willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you'll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship,' Obama wrote.
'And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.'
'That bill never came,' he continued, before laying out the reasons he decided to act on his own, absent legislation, in a move he characterized at the time as a choice in prosecutorial discretion.
YOU NEVER CALL: President Barack Obama made his views on Trump's DACA decision known in a Facebook posting
President Donald Trump signaled his intent this morning to end a program that allows illegal immigrants who arrived as children to live and work in the US without fear of deportation
'And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country.'
'We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm,' Obama wrote.
'Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.'
Dreamers still won't be the administration's priority for deportation, Sanders insisted during her televised press conference. The government's focus is on criminal security threats, she contended.
It's work permits and other government benefits that the 800,000 illegal immigrants who are currently part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy will be losing access to, she said during the question answer session where she repeatedly argued that it's up to Congress to make the program law.
Former President Barack Obama tore into Trump's DACA decision, after previously bashing a Senate GOP bill to repeal Obamacare
Obama acknowledged 'legitimate disagreements' about fixing immigration.
'But that's not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they're undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver's license.'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the Trump administration will 'wind down' an Obama-era program that allows illegal immigrants who arrived as children to live and work in the US without fear of deportation
Activists asked Trump not to end DACA during a protest Monday outside the White House
Obama said a 'shadow has been cast' over 'some of our best and brightest young people once again.'
Then he went after Trump's motives. 'Let's be clear: the action taken today isn't required legally. It's a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.'
'They are that pitcher on our kid's softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won't lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone's taxes, or raise anybody's wages.'
Following Trump's urging that Congress take action – he is putting in place a six-month period to 'wind down' the program – Obama also turned to lawmakers.
People are arrested during protest at Trump Tower after US President Donald J. Trump announced the plan to rescind the DACA program in New York, New York, USA, 05 September 2017. President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children
'And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it's up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I'm heartened by those who've suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel,' Obama wrote.
He concluded: 'What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That's how America has traveled this far. That's how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.'
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration's plans to 'wind down' the Obama-era program that allows illegal immigrants who arrived as children to live and work in the US without fear of deportation from the Justice Department this am.
Sessions said in a press statement that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, DACA, is an 'unconstitutional exercise of authority' by the executive branch and amounts to 'unilateral executive amnesty.'
The administration is rescinding the policy that created the program, Sessions said.
It's up to Congress to pass legislation extending the policy if it see fit, the DOJ official stated.
'We are people of compassion, and we are people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,' Sessions said.
President Donald Trump waited an hour after Sessions had finished speaking to send out a statement explaining the administration's decision.
'I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws,' Trump's statement said.
Trump stressed in the declaration that went straight to reporters' inboxes - he did not make a televised appearance - that the transition away from DACA would be 'orderly' and 'gradual.'
New applications will not be accepted but prospective DACA recipients who already have their paperwork in will have their requests honored, Trump said.
Dreamers with DACA paperwork that is about to expire will also have their statuses renewed, he added.
'This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months,' Trump said. 'Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act.'
Protests from supporters of the DACA program broke out of over the weekend and extended into Tuesday at the White House and Trump Tower
The president had hinted this morning on Twitter that he was planning to place the problem squarely on the shoulders of Congress.
'Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!' Trump tweeted.
He said in a formal statement later, 'Congress now has the opportunity to advance responsible immigration reform that puts American jobs and American security first.'
'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, mistakenly capitalizing the 'D' on democratic.
Continuing, Trump said, 'We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.'
DACA protects roughly 800,000 Dreamers, as they are known, from being deported. As many as 11 million illegal immigrants are believed to be residing in the U.S. overall.
Sessions said in a press statement that the policy, known as DACA, is an 'unconstitutional exercise of authority' by the executive branch and amounts to 'unilateral executive amnesty'
A weekend report said Trump was planning to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals scheme that his predecessor implemented five years ago at the conclusion of a six-month waiting period
Once their paperwork expires, Dreamers will not be rounded up and kicked out immediately, but they could be sent back to their home countries if they encounter a law enforcement officer.
They will not have access to documents that will allow them to work legally in the U.S.
Sessions said Tuesday, during a televised statement at the Department of Justice, that Barack Obama had shown disrespect for the legislative process when he went around Congress to put DACA in place.
'The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,' Sessions said, claiming that 'such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.'
The law enforcement official predicted that DACA would be slapped down in court if it sustained a legal challenge.
A similar Obama policy, DAPA, that protected the parents of illegal immigrants went down in court earlier this summer.
'If we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach,' Sessions said.
Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said in a memo that the administration did not take the decision lightly.
'I am very aware of the consequences of this action, and I sympathize with the DACA recipients whose futures may now be less certain,' she said. 'But I am also frustrated on their behalf. DACA was never more than parole—a bureaucratic delay—that never promised the rights of citizenship or legal status in this country.'
As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.
The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws – this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend.
In June of 2012, President Obama bypassed Congress to give work permits, social security numbers, and federal benefits to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants currently between the ages of 15 and 36. The typical recipients of this executive amnesty, known as DACA, are in their twenties. Legislation offering these same benefits had been introduced in Congress on numerous occasions and rejected each time.
In referencing the idea of creating new immigration rules unilaterally, President Obama admitted that “I can’t just do these things by myself” – and yet that is exactly what he did, making an end-run around Congress and violating the core tenets that sustain our Republic.
Officials from 10 States are suing over the program, requiring my Administration to make a decision regarding its legality. The Attorney General of the United States, the Attorneys General of many states, and virtually all other top legal experts have advised that the program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.
There can be no path to principled immigration reform if the executive branch is able to rewrite or nullify federal laws at will.
The temporary implementation of DACA by the Obama Administration, after Congress repeatedly rejected this amnesty-first approach, also helped spur a humanitarian crisis – the massive surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America including, in some cases, young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country, such as MS-13.
Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.
Therefore, in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption. While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits