President Donald Trump, on Tuesday, ended an amnesty for 800,000 people brought illegally to the United States as minors, throwing their future in serious doubt and triggering fierce condemnation from across the political spectrum.
Business leaders, unions, religious groups, opposition Democrats and many within Trump’s own ruling Republican party joined forces to criticize the phased end of protections for people who arrived in the United States under the age of 16.
Many Hispanic, now in their twenties and having known no other country except the United States, will have somewhere between six and around 24 months before they become illegal and subject to potential deportation.
“This is the only country I know,” said Ivan Ceja, a 26-year-old computer science student and immigrant rights advocate who arrived in the country as a baby.
“My future is here. I’m not going to go without a fight.”
Trump later insisted he had “great heart for the folks we are talking about, a great love for them” and called on Congress to pass wide-ranging immigration reform, something lawmakers have tried and failed to do for decades.
“I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act,” said the president.
The president vowed to “revisit” the issue if Congress fails.
“I look forward to working with D’s + R’s in Congress to address immigration reform in a way that puts hardworking citizens of our country 1st,” he tweeted.
Trump had argued that the amnesty introduced by Barack Obama in 2012 was an unconstitutional overreach of presidential powers and would likely be struck down by the courts eventually.
Amid a smattering of street protests across the country, the announcement prompted ex-president Obama to make a rare re-entry onto the political stage.
In a break with the usual pact of presidential decorum, Obama decried the decision as “wrong,” “self-defeating” and “cruel.”
“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question.”
Republican Senator John McCain, who lost the 2008 presidential election to Obama, said that while he disagreed with his ex-rival’s use of an executive order to set the policy, reversing it now would be “unacceptable.”
He vowed to work with both Democrats and Republicans to craft and pass comprehensive immigration reform.