On the campaign trail, Donald Trump vowed to repeal the measure that prevents immigrants known as DREAMers from being deported.
But days into the new President’s administration, the federal government is still accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Known as DACA, the program helps undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children get driver’s licenses, enroll in colleges and secure jobs.
Many expected DACA, which President Obama created with an executive order in 2012, to be one of the first things to go once Trump took office. But although Trump has already signed several executive orders reversing actions of the Obama administration, as of late Tuesday it remained in place.
Steve Blando, a spokesman for US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in a written statement Tuesday that the agency “is still accepting/processing DACA requests under existing policy.”
A softer stance?
Recent comments by Trump and other administration officials have suggested he may take a softer stance when it comes to DREAMers.
The administration’s priority, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said this week, will be focusing on “those who are in this country illegally and have a record, a criminal record or pose a threat to the American people.”
Last week Trump told “Fox & Friends” that his plan would be ready in a few months.
“It’s a plan that’s going to be very firm, but it’s going to have a lot of heart,” he said. Trump also acknowledged this process was “a very tough situation” for people who sought protection under DACA. But, he said, “I think they’re going to end up being very happy.”
Immigrant rights activists have been bracing for changes to the program while petitioning officials to keep it in place.
Some critics who support a crackdown on illegal immigration are pushing for Trump to act more swiftly, slamming him for backing down on a campaign promise.
More than 750,000 recipients
Details on how many DACA applications had been received since Trump’s term began on Friday were not immediately available.
Statistics on the program are tracked and reported quarterly, Blando said.
Since the program began in 2012, about 750,000 applications have been approved.
According to the latest available data on the agency’s website, 46,229 initial applications to the program and 73,705 renewals were pending as of September 2016. About 820 people applied to the program daily last year.
It’s unclear what would happen to those applications if Trump repeals the program.