Over 20,000 young Koreans may have to pack out of the United States after the administration under President Donald Trump decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects children of undocumented immigrants to study and work in the U.S. on two-year basis from deportation.
The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced on Tuesday (local time) that the Trump administration was ending the DACA program that was initiated by former President Barack Obama in 2012 as temporary protection for so-called Dreamers referring to children of unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. until the Congress passed a more comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The program “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs… We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,” said Sessions.
DACA recipients are mostly students or job-seekers under the age of 30 who have lived in the U.S. for more than 5 years after coming to the country under 16. As of March this year, more than 787,000 were under the permit that needs to be renewed every two years. It is estimated that 14,000 people could lose their protection a day and immediately be deported if renewals were ended.
The U.S Department of Justice offered a grace period of six months to avoid confusion and allow the Congress time to come up with follow-up legislation. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immediately stopped receiving new applications of the DACA program, but existing recipients will not be affected for at least six months.
Related to the steps, President Donald Trump urged Congress to make the executive action permanent in the law, tweeting that Congress should “get ready to do your job”.
According to data released from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DACA program helped 17,625 Korean-Americans avoid being deported from the U.S. as of March. The number could go over 20,000 when counting in those who have not yet applied for the program.
By Lee Jin-myung
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