Barack Obama has taken time out of his retirement to slam the highly controversial and downright cruel decision by the Trump administration to deport 800,000 people who arrived in the United States illegally as children.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the government will stop granting protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), brought in by Obama in 2012.

The move was widely condemned by Democrats, activists, celebrities, business leaders, and pretty much everyone else not firmly in the pro-Trump camp.

The purpose of DACA was to allow people who had been brought to the US illegally as children, and who passed strict vetting on their criminal history and risk of national security threat, the temporary right to live, study and work in the United States.

And now Trump has thrown all of that into chaos, giving Congress six months to sort out a bill that protects DACA recipients (otherwise known as Dreamers). Trump himself claims to “love the Dreamers”, and plenty of Republicans are urging Congress to come up with a viable solution, but critics – of which there are tens, if not hundreds of thousands – are slamming the decision to slam these people with an uncertain future.

In a widely shared Facebook post, Obama slammed the decision to end DACA as it stands a “cruel”, “wrong”, un-American, and against basic decency.

In a Facebook post that’s been shared hundreds of thousands of times, #44 said:

“Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

“But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.”

The crux of the issue for some opponents of DACA (emphasis on ‘some’; other opponents are just straight-up racist) is that Obama actioned it via executive order, which he explains here was because Congress was unable to produce a bill.

“Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

“That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

By shifting responsibility away from the White House to Congress to sort out the issue, Trump is leaving the futures of some 800,000 people, currently aged between 15 and 36 and who, on average, arrived in America as a six-year-old, in doubt.

Obama continues:

“But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbour turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

“Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. 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. 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. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”

He joins thousands of people – Democrats, activists, celebrities, business leaders and pretty much everyone else – condemning the actions of the government.

As it stands, new applications under DACA will no longer be accepted. Those in the program, whose legal status currently allows them to work and attend college, will begin to have their legal status and other DACA-related permits expire by March 2018.

If Congress doesn’t pass legislation, all Dreamers will lose their status by March 2020, and face deportation to their countries of birth.

You can read Obama’s post in full below.

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill…

Posted by Barack Obama on Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Image: Getty Images / Alex Wong