DACA program to be phased out; Congress given window to save it

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of people rallied and then marched through Chicago's Loop Tuesday following a formal announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation.

A passionate rally at Federal Plaza attracted hundreds, maybe more than a thousand. Many of the speakers are DACA recipients, and spoke passionately.

"I am here to tell Trump that I refuse to go back in the shadows!" declared Angelica Magana, DACA recipient.

"My family and my community is being torn apart," said Luis Gomez, DACA recipient.

Ending DACA would impact more than just the 800,000 recipients; 16 percent of them have a spouse who is a U.S. citizen, and 26 percent have a child that is a legal citizen.

"An attack on DACA is also an attack to the larger communities we are a part of, and those include children and families," said Giselle Escobedo, DACA recipient.

A high percentage of DACA recipients are either working or in school, opportunities which the White House said should go to citizens.

"African Americans in the same age group, over 870,000 unemployed Hispanics in the same age group, those are large groups of people who are unemployed that could possibly have that job," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

But others say those jobs would be hard to fill.

"We're already, in terms of skilled workers, at full employment. There aren't enough people out there to take these jobs, so if we lose them it just means that the organizations are going to have to slow down their work output," said John Challenger of employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Chicago police said no arrests were made at the rally and march to the ICE headquarters downtown.

Sessions made the announcement on behalf of the Trump administration Tuesday morning.

The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy.

CLICK HERE to find out more about how the DACA rescission may affect you.
"I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.

READ MORE: Attorney General Sessions full remarks on DACA
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Trump Administration rescinds DACA policy; AG Jeff Sessions calls Obama era action "unconstiutional."

In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business and education communities at large have joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US.

WATCH: Chicago DACA recipients react to announcement with sadness, fear
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Thousands of DACA recipients live and work in the Chicago area, and they watched Tuesday morning's announcement with disappointment, sadness and fear.

In a statement after his agencies and attorney general announced the decision, President Donald Trump blamed former President Barack Obama for creating the program through executive authority and urged Congress to come up with a solution.

"It is now time for Congress to act!" he said.

Trump said that winding down the program would be more considerate than letting the courts end it but emphasized he stands by his "America First" agenda.

"As I've said before, 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," Trump said. "We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans."

Later, Trump told reporters he feels compassion for those affected, but "long term it's going to be the right solution."

"I have a great heart for these folks we're talking about. A great love for them and people think in terms of children but they're really young adults. I have a love for these people and hopefully now Congress will be able to help them and do it properly," he said ahead of a meeting on tax reform.

WATCH: What to expect next after Trump administration ends DACA

The administration also announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.

Tuesday evening, in what seemed like a partial reversal, Trump tweeted he will revisit the decision if Congress does not act to pass immigration reform in the six month window the administration gave.

The Trump administration pitched the move as the "least disruptive" option available after facing a threat from 10 conservative state attorneys general to challenge the program in court, according to senior administration officials briefing reporters on the move during a conference call conducted on condition of anonymity.

Sessions had determined that the program would not be likely to withstand that court challenge, he said.

"The Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach," Sessions said. "There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism. The compassionate thing is to end the lawlessness, (and) enforce our laws."

But in an internal email sent to all DHS staff, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke struck a softer tone than the official line, while still criticizing the previous administration.

"I am very aware of the consequences of this action, and I sympathize with the DACA recipients whose futures may now be less certain," Duke said in the memo, obtained by CNN. "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. And for that reason, DACA was fundamentally a lie that left recipients in two-year cycles of uncertainty."

DHS spokesman David Lapan confirmed the authenticity of the memo that CNN obtained.

Congress faces deadline

The move sets a clock for Congress to act to preserve the program's protections before the DACA recipients begin losing their status March 5, 2018.

In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated his aspiration that Congress will reach a solution in time.

"It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president's leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country," Ryan said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Trump's move

"President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law. Today's action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake," McConnell said in a statement. "This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works."

No one's DACA status will be revoked before it expires, administration officials said, and any applications already received by Tuesday will be processed.

Anyone who's status expires by March 5 has one month to apply for a new two-year permit, and those applications will be processed.

If Congress were not to act, and DACA begins to expire, nearly 300,000 people could begin to lose their status in 2018, and more than 320,000 would lose their status from January to August 2019. More than 200,000 recipients have their DACA expiring in the window that DHS will allow renewal.


Speaking with reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity, DHS did not rule out that anyone with expired DACA would then be subject to deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it will continue to prioritize for enforcement people with criminal records, people who re-enter the US illegally and those with final orders of removal.

But officials said there will be no formal guidance that former DACA recipients are not eligible for deportation, and ICE officers in the field who encounter them will be making a case-by-case judgment as to whether to arrest that individual and process them for deportation.

The administration insisted its approach was designed to offer some security to DACA recipients, emphasizing that if it had allowed the courts to decide the issue, then would have been risking an immediate and abrupt end to DACA at the hands of a judge.

But it also was made clear that once DACA begins to expire, if Congress doesn't act, then people formerly protected "would be like any other person who's in the country illegally," according to a senior DHS official.

All of the information provided to the government by DACA applicants will remain in the DHS system. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the program, will give that information to ICE if requested if "there's a significant law enforcement or national security interest," an official said.

While they won't be specifically targeted, DHS said, they could be arrested and deported if they are encountered by ICE officers. And their information, which they provided extensively for their DACA applications, will continue to reside in DHS systems and could be accessed if officers feel it's necessary in the course of an investigation.

DHS said it had on plans to issue formal guidelines on how former DACA recipients -- or their information -- will be treated beyond the current operating procedures of DHS.

"To be clear, what ICE is doing now is what Congress intended, we're actually enforcing the law the way it is written," said a senior ICE official. "(This is t)he first President who's asked us to enforce the law the way it is written and not asked us to have some executive interpretation of the law."

The officials placed the onus on Congress to make any changes to the system.

The former president issued a rare statement criticizing the move by his successor to rescind one of his signature programs, calling it "basic decency."

He also pushed back on the administration's claims that its hands were tied legally.

"Let's be clear: The action taken today isn't required legally," Obama said. "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."

Obama then extolled the virtues of DACA recipients while implicitly rebutting the administration's arguments for ending the program.

"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," Obama said. "Kicking them out won't lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone's taxes, or raise anybody's wages ... Ultimately, this is about basic decency."

Hispanic business leader quits WH council over DACA decision

The head of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce resigned from President Donald Trump's National Diversity Council Tuesday over the administration's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

"I tried to work as hard as I could with this administration on this issue and I continue to want to work with them on other issues, like tax reform, like health care reform, and so many other important things," Javier Palomarez told HLN's Carol Costello. "But I really don't see the logic in doing what we're doing right now."

Palomarez had told CNN's Poppy Harlow earlier Tuesday that "I am out if he ends it."

Palomarez told Harlow he agrees with Trump's stated desire to prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. But he called Trump's decision to end DACA, an Obama-era program extending legal protections to young undocumented immigrants, "a huge disappointment."

"We're dealing with a President that gave his word, that promised that he would take care of these 800,000 young people," he said.

Palomarez also expressed his disappointment Monday, telling CNN's Jim Acosta that Trump would be going back on his word to treat the recipients of the program with "heart" if he does make the decision to end it.

"If he gets rid of DACA, he's showing that he is a liar," Palomarez said.

Trump said from the outset of his presidency he would treat DACA carefully and promised to "show great heart" when asked how he would handle the program.

And last week, Trump said, "We love the 'Dreamers,'" referring to undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and want to continue living their lives in the country.

Palomarez and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump in last year's election. But since Trump's victory, Palomarez has sought to work with the White House on several policy fronts.

Illinois leaders respond to Trump's DACA plan

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released this statement Tuesday:

"Amy and I have had the pleasure of hosting dreamers in our home for dinner. You can see in their eyes and hear in their voices how much it means to them to be part of the fabric of America. President Trump's decision to end DACA is not only harmful to these young people, it strikes a blow against our core American values and is an affront to basic human decency. It is a betrayal of more than 800,000 children who have done nothing wrong and of the unique role the United States has played in the world for centuries. The United States is a nation of immigrants, not a country that tears families apart or deports children who have placed their faith in the promise of America. I know countless dreamers in Chicago who are talented, hard-working and dedicated to their families and the only home they have ever known. Not only will Chicago continue to welcome dreamers, we will pursue every legal option to protect our children, defend our immigrant communities and uphold the enduring promise of the American Dream."

Cardinal Blase Cupich, leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago, released this statement Tuesday:

"Today President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the dreams of nearly a million young people covered by the executive order and applying for inclusion. In the past the president stated that the Dreamer story 'is about the heart,' yet today's decision is nothing short of heartless. The Dreamers are now left in a six-month limbo, during which Congress is supposed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a feat they have been unable to achieve for a decade. In fact, this inability to agree on a just immigration system led President Obama to sign the executive order protecting minor children brought to this country by their parents. As the considerations of the "heart" seemed to be insufficient to keep protection in place, Congress must now act decisively and swiftly. An immediate first step is for our leaders to pass legislation that will protect those previously covered by the DACA program, while they deal with the long-overdue comprehensive reform of our immigration system. They must be guided by compassion and respect for human dignity, and honestly consider the substantial evidence that deporting these young Americans would do great economic harm to the states where they reside. With the bishops in this country, we remain committed to upholding the dignity of all persons and the fundamental right of all to live free from fear in the nation founded on that promise."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) released this statement Tuesday:

"In my first conversation with President Trump on Inauguration Day, I thanked him for the positive things he had said about the Dreamers. He looked me in the eye and said, 'Don't worry. We are going to take care of those kids.' Despite many of the terrible immigration policies this Administration has put forward, I have always held out the hope that President Trump would keep his work and "take care" of the Dreamers. After all, the President told America, 'We love the Dreamers.' But today's announcement from Attorney General Sessions was cold, harsh, threatening, and showed little respect, let alone love, for these Dreamers. Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people-students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers, and more. Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately. I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they've ever known. Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait."

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released this statement Tuesday:

"Make no mistake-this decision is not about 'rule of law,' as Attorney General Sessions claims. This is a gut-wrenching betrayal of American values that leaves nearly 800,000 of our neighbors vulnerable to deportation and tears families and communities apart. DREAMers and DACA recipients are doctors, teachers, students and Servicemembers. They have mortgages and jobs. They know only one nation: the United States, which is where they were raised. To end a program that allowed these patriots to come out of the shadows and more fully contribute to this country is irresponsible and heartless. Congress must act immediately and pass legislation to make DACA the law of the land."

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D) released this statement Tuesday:

"I am at a loss to understand why the Trump administration would pursue such backward and hostile action. These 'Dreamers' are here and making the most of their opportunities. They are students and professionals. They are part of our country and part of our future. Trump should be applauding them, not targeting them. Today's action is an outrage and a mistake. I call on our congressional delegation to seize the opportunity to right this wrong."

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL 11th District) released this statement Tuesday:

"I strongly condemn any attempt to end this program and make DREAMers feel unsafe. The United States is the only home many of these young people have ever known and their presence has made our country stronger. DREAMers have also had a positive economic impact in the United States. Reports suggest that they add $460 billion to our national GDP. It's clear that the President fails to appreciate the important contributions these Americans make to our country's rich diversity and economic prosperity."

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL 5th DIstrict) released this statement Tuesday:

"Today, the President has once again proven that his policy towards immigrants is rooted solely in prejudice. Ending DACA is unnecessary and unjustifiable, with over 800,000 DREAMers living in America and contributing to its growth and success. These immigrants came here as young children in search of the values and ideals our nation was founded upon - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Like all people living in this great country, DREAMers are striving to obtain their own American Dream. In addition to not caring about the reprehensible moral consequences of subjecting DREAMers to possible deportation, he is also ignoring the devastating economic impact his decision will have. Despite promises to grow the economy, repealing DACA would reduce our national GDP by $433 billion over the next ten years. Through this decision, Trump has made it clear that he is not a president for everyone and will continue to prioritize pandering to his base instead of representing the diverse population that makes America great. Additionally, it is no surprise that he recently took to Twitter to shift responsibility for execution of his plan to Congress; and until legislation moves forward, Democrats will hold Republican leadership accountable. We must embrace and elevate our American values, and that starts with protecting the most vulnerable amongst us."

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials released this statement, in part, Tuesday:

"By eliminating this program, President Trump is turning his back on the wealth of talent and skills that the more than 800,000 young hard-working Americans enrolled in DACA bring to this nation. These young individuals will now be forced to live their lives in limbo and constant fear for simply trying to pursue the American Dream. This insensible act puts in place a new reality for these young immigrants and all Americans, and sends a clear message to the rest of the world that our nation is no longer welcoming to immigrants.

"From here on out, students furthering their education who know no other home than the United States will be forced to look over their shoulders as they head to class. Members of our Armed Forces who put their lives on the line defending our nation will now have to worry about one day returning from a deployment and finding immigration officers at their doorstep. Business-owners and organizations like NALEO Educational Fund who employ talented employees that have become invaluable members of their staff will wonder if there may come a day when their colleagues will not return to the office after a lunch or coffee break.

"This decision ultimately harms all of the American people. As lawful members of the nation's workforce, DACA recipients have earned higher wages, generated millions of dollars in increased tax revenue, and boosted economic growth. A recent survey from the University of California San Diego and National Immigration Law Center found that at least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies have employed DACA recipients.

"As a leadership organization that represents the nation's more than 6,100 Latino elected and appointed officials, we know firsthand how important it is that the leaders who are on the frontlines of their communities dealing with the aftermath of this decision have access to the information and resources that will allow them to effectively serve their constituents.

"NALEO will not turn away from for our leaders and the Latino community as we approach the difficult road that lies ahead. Our toll-free bilingual hotline 844-411-DACA (844-411-3222)* will be activated immediately to help ensure that the thousands of individuals in need are able to be connected to real-time information and legal resources in their communities."

Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Steering Committee members and IBIC supporters released these statements Tuesday:

"We are deeply concerned about President Trump's decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA)," said IBIC Co-chair and Exelon Corporation Chairman Emeritus John Rowe. "The only just and proper response is for Congress to pass the Dream Act or similar legislation. Many businesses depend upon these workers at the high and low skilled ends. Many of us have invested heavily in the education of these young people. All of our members are deeply concerned about the moral impact of destroying these young lives. Both the soul and the future of the Republican party rest upon finding better solutions to immigration."

"The decision of President Trump to remove the protection of 780,000 young, productive, law-abiding Dreamers will have deleterious repercussions on our families, communities, economy, educational institutions, and the future of our country," said President and Partner of Pulmonary Consultants, IBIC Co-Chair Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul. "It is difficult to understand the reasoning behind such a decision when we know that developed nations like ours are trying hard to attract their own Dreamers: a young, diverse, and educated workforce that contribute to their economic growth, innovation, and agility."

"Dreamers have been working and making advancements in the most cutting-edge tech fields as engineers, developers, and analysts. In order to remain competitive globally, we need to pass a legislative replacement for DACA so that Dreamers can continue to receive an education, and nurture this incredible source of talent and fresh ideas," said President of the Illinois Institute of Technology Alan Cramb.

"DePaul University was founded in 1898 to serve Chicago's large and growing immigrant population. This group had very limited access to higher education. Those men and women built Chicago into the great city it is today," said DePaul University President Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban. "DePaul continues to provide a world-class education to all of our students, including new immigrants. Dream students are as much a part of Chicago as any students, and they deserve a chance to fully contribute to our culture and economy. I urge you to find a permanent solution that helps these students realize the American Dream."

"As our new academic year begins, our students with DACA status are coping with the grim possibility that the program could be rescinded at any time," said Loyola University President Dr. Jo Ann Rooney. "I urge Congress to codify DACA into law by swiftly passing the DREAM Act."

"Passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do. It makes no sense to expel talented young people who have been raised as Americans," states Northwestern University President Dr. Morton Schapiro. "We need their knowledge and skills to build our economy and defend our nation."

The Chicago Teachers Union released the following statement:

"President Trump's decision today to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is an indefensible slap in the face of tens of thousands of hardworking Illinois students and their families, and a move designed to pander to the uninformed and the bigoted. The Chicago Teachers Union stands in support and solidarity with the 800,000 DACAmented youth in the U.S., the DACAmented CTU members working in our schools, and the thousands of former, existing and future students who qualify for protection under DACA.

"We cannot choose to protect Dreamers but deport their parents, just as we must not pick and choose who we protect among any group in this nation: rich or poor; Black, brown or white; undocumented or born on U.S. soil. Yet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has-like some in Washington-also endorsed policies that divide our communities into good and bad immigrants, while pretending to defend all.

"We call on Emanuel to make our public schools true sanctuaries by ending chronic cuts that endanger and undermine our students, and fully funding the new state education formula with sustainable, equitable sources of revenue. Only then can we support students at places like Kelly High School, which has been forced to lay off counselors who've helped countless undocumented youth. We also call on Emanuel to pull back his new high school graduation requirements, which derail the ability of undocumented youth without DACA to find work or enroll in college.

"We call on Chicago Public Schools not to purge DACAmented workers, and to instead sign onto the sanctuary schools resolution and increase protection for all students and their families. And we call on our union members to continue to organize to create sanctuary schools that increase protections for all of our students, documented and undocumented, and of all races, ethnicity, gender and orientation."

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer released the letter he sent to President Trump:

"Earlier this year we wrote to you to emphasize the importance of welcoming immigrants and the talent and energy that they bring to this country. As leaders of one of the country's foremost institutions of higher education and research, we believe strongly that restricting talented scholars and students from carrying out their work in the United States would damage the ability of this University and many others to fulfill our highest aspirations in research, education, and impact. It would also weaken our nation's global leadership in fields such as technological development, business innovation, and many others.

"That is why we urge the administration to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This important program has made it possible for about 800,000 students who live in the United States to pursue opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them, and to flourish in ways that greatly benefit themselves, their fellow students, and their communities. Like their peers at the University of Chicago, our students who qualify for DACA are among the most talented and intellectually energetic students in the world. Our university community and our nation will be diminished if they are unable to continue contributing their talents here.

"By upholding this program, you would strengthen the support that this university and many others have given to young people with a deep desire to learn and contribute in ways that reaffirm the best values of this country."

Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti released a statement, saying:

"Immigration is personal to me. My mother was a refugee from Cuba and my father emigrated legally from Ecuador. While my parents came to this country under very different circumstances, they had the common goal of achieving the American dream.

"Republicans and Democrats across the country agree that our current immigration system is broken. The current system divides our communities, incentivizes illegal entry, strains law enforcement, and stymies our economy with uncertainty. Today's DACA repeal sets a 6-month clock for reform. Congress should take this opportunity to fix our broken immigration system, and in turn address DACA, border security, and a path to citizenship."

WLS-TV contributed to this report.

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