Illegal immigrant Dreamers whose status under the Obama-era DACA status expires won’t be particular targets for deportation, Homeland Security said Thursday, trying to tamp down on fears of massive sweeps being fed by immigrant-rights advocates.
Department spokesman David Lapan said that while former DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, recipients might be scooped up in enforcement, and could be deported based on their lack of permission to be in the U.S., they aren’t priorities.
“We’re not going to proactively go after individuals whose DACA expires if they’re an enforcement priority,” Mr. Lapan said.
He said it was unfortunate that immigrant-rights groups were stoking fears of mass deportations of DACA recipients.
“We’re not all of a sudden saying OK, [someone’s] DACA is expiring so let’s go find him and send him home,” Mr. Lapan said.
DACA is currently protecting nearly 700,000 young adult illegal immigrant Dreamers from deportation, but President Trump has announced a six-month phaseout of the legally troubled program.
Under the phaseout, any current two-year permits will be good until they expire, and those whose permits were to expire by March 5 have been allowed to apply for another two-year protection. But no new applications or renewals beyond that timeframe are allowed.
Immigrant-rights groups are blasting Mr. Trump for the phaseout, saying he should have mounted the uphill legal battle to defend the program. But they also are demanding Congress act to create a permanent solution — the same goal Mr. Trump set when he announced the phaseout.
In the meantime, they’re also warning of deportations.
“The only thing standing between individual DACA end dates and the risk of deportation is Congress,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.
He also urged Dreamers not to rely on the suggestion, floated by a Republican senator, that Mr. Trump could extend his six-month phaseout. Homeland Security has stopped taking new applications and the Justice Department’s leadership has said the program is illegal, so re-starting it would be deeply problematic.
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