The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it was ending an Obama-era program that’s shielded young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Federal officials said the government would stop accepting new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, after Tuesday. Current DACA recipients would be allowed to have their two-year work permits until they expire, officials said.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Obama-era program “was an unconstitutional exercise of authority” by the executive branch and that the Department of Justice could not defend it.
In Georgia, more than 24,000 people have been approved for DACA program according to federal data.
Marisol Estrada, 23, watched the announcement of the decision to end DACA Tuesday morning with her co-workers. Estrada came to the United States with her mother when she was 5 years old, and recently graduated from Armstrong State University in Savannah.
She said she felt frustration that the announcement came from Sessions instead of President Trump himself and said she hopes Congress will act on a solution.
“This does affect our everyday lives, and this has helped a lot of us come out of the shadows and flourish into the community,” Estrada said. “I think it's just a message for us to stand up, and we will organize.”
Attorneys generals in several Republican states, led by Texas, threatened to sue the Trump administration if it didn’t rescind DACA. Georgia was not one of those states.
Several Republican members of Congress from Georgia issued statements supporting the decision to end DACA.
“The president is thoughtfully correcting the error he inherited, recognizing that our strong commitment to the rule of law serves both America and her neighbors,” said Congressman Doug Collins, R-Ga, in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the Trump Administration to bring needed reform to the immigration system while continuing our nation’s legacy of upholding the law and the separation of powers.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said Congress should work to protect those who were under DACA.
“Children who received status under President Obama’s deferred action executive order should not be punished for their parents’ choices," Isakson said. "Congress should protect these young people while also working toward stronger measures to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws going forward.”
Meanwhile, Atlanta's Mayor Kasim Reed called the decision “a shameful abdication of moral leadership.”
“By ending this program, the president is breaking a promise that the federal government made to the nearly 800,000 young people in our country who stepped forward, passed background checks and have been granted permission to live and work legally in the United States,” Reed said.