Yet as president, he repeatedly expressed empathy with the young participants in the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. As a candidate, Donald Trump denounced the program as an "illegal amnesty" and said he would immediately end it.
A flurry of rumors, conflicting reports and divergent statements on Friday highlighted deep divisions within the Trump administration over a major element of immigration policy - the fate of the roughly 750,000 so-called Dreamers who are shielded from deportation by an Obama-era policy.
Preserving DACA temporarily protects a small portion of kids, he said - DACA protects about 800,000 people in the United States, while DAPA could have protected as many as five million.
Continuing it would be unpopular with many of his supporters.
According to the press release by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, DACA will remain in effect. The revocation came on the fifth anniversary of another effort that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.
A quick lesson on Or Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The protection program for parents, like the one for young immigrants, was created with a policy memo, not by legislation. In making his decision, Homeland Security secretary John Kelly took into account "the fact that Dapa never took effect, and our new immigration enforcement priorities", a department statement said. That program applies to certain illegal aliens in the US who arrived as children and met specific criteria. The administration won't act to terminate current work permits prior to their expiration dates.
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Established by then-President Barack Obama in 2014, DAPA offered deportation reprieves and working papers to undocumented parents of children who are either US citizens or have legal residency here and who have lived in the United States for at least five years.
In a late-Thursday night briefing, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly announced that he had revoked an Obama-era order that would have prevented the deportation of any undocumented parents of millions of US citizens.
The immigration policy was first announced by former President Barack Obama back in the fall of 2014.
"DACA is a very, very hard subject for me", Trump said in February at a news conference.
Trump's decision veers from his strident anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric, which translated into some tough early months for American immigrants during his administration.
Some groups, which have condemned amnesty for immigrants who came to the USA illegally, called on Trump to carry through with his promises to end DACA. However, deportations have slightly gone down as less number of people has been caught crossing the Mexican border illegally. DACA protects roughly 750,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children and know no other home, but DAPA would have extended the protections to parents and potentially 5 million more people, according to estimates.
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