(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration has canceled a never-implemented Obama-era immigration program intended to protect parents of U.S. citizens from deportation, fulfilling one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly revoked the memo creating the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program. The program was created by President Barack Obama in 2014 to protect people living in the United States illegally who have children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents. They would have been kept safe from deportation and provided with renewable work permits.
The program was blocked by a federal judge in Texas after 26 states sued. Republicans saw it as a “backdoor amnesty” and argued that Obama overstepped his authority by protecting a specific class of immigrants living in the United States illegally.
While announcing the end of that program late Thursday, the Homeland Security Department said another program that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation will remain in effect, though it did not say for how long. Trump had also pledged to “immediately” cancel that program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. But, so far, most immigrants protected by the effort have not been targeted by stepped-up efforts to find and deport immigrants living in the country illegally.
DACA was created five years ago and, as of March 31, has protected 787,000 young immigrants, according to government data.
The protection program for parents, like the one for young immigrants, was created with a policy memo, not by legislation. Both programs required that participants meet certain conditions, including not having a history of serious crimes.
Arrests of immigrants in the interior of the country have increased under the Trump administration, but deportations are slightly down as fewer people have been caught crossing the Mexican border into the United States illegally.
Trump has made immigration enforcement a top priority and has vowed to continue a crackdown on those living in the U.S. illegally and those trying to sneak into the country.
But he’s taken a softer line on the program affecting young immigrants, who are sometimes referred to as “Dreamers.” In an Associated Press interview in April, Trump said his administration is “not after the dreamers, we are after the criminals” and that “The dreamers should rest easy.”