President Donald Trump is ending the Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of people who entered the United States illegally as children, with a six-month delay intended to allow Congress to act.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the decision Tuesday, argued that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was an unlawful overreach by President Barack Obama and said he could not defend it.
It sets up a potential rush for lawmakers to pass a bill protecting so-called dreamers before the Trump administration's deadline. It is unclear if the GOP-led Congress, members of which voted to sink similar legislation in the past, can do so in the near future as it faces multiple crucial deadlines to approve legislation.
For his part, Trump implied in a Tuesday evening Twitter post that he hoped Congress would legalize DACA in the next six months. If lawmakers were unable to achieve that, the president said, he would "revisit" the issue.
@realDonaldTrump tweet: Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!
Public opposition to rescinding the program had mounted recently amid protests around the country. Top Republican lawmakers like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as well as technology sector leaders, had pushed Trump not to scrap DACA.
Trump allies like Sessions urged him to end the program, arguing it will be difficult to defend in court.
"Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and rule of law in America the Department of Justice cannot defend this overreach," Sessions said.