By Susannah Cullinane
PHILADELPHIA (CNN) — Reaction to reports that President Donald Trump plans to end a program protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation sparked a backlash on Sunday.
Trump is expected to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects so-called “Dreamers” from being forced out of the country, four sources familiar with the decision told CNN.
Two of the sources said the plan is to have a six-month delay in any action regarding the DACA program. This would be intended to grant Congress time to pass a fix through legislation that would mitigate the effects of the rollback and potentially let the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants working and studying in the US to stay.
The DACA program, which gives qualified applicants protections from deportation, is popular among Democrats and moderate Republicans, many of whom have introduced legislation in Congress to try to protect the population permanently.
Permits under DACA are granted for two years before needing to be renewed. A recent study by groups that support DACA estimated that 1,400 people a day could lose their protections if renewals were ended.
As soon as the move was reported, there was a flood of reaction from the left and the right, with immigration advocates calling the move cruel and Trump’s core supporters hailing it as restoring the rule of law.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said on Twitter that ending DACA would give “chance 2 restore Rule of Law.”
Trump supporter Pastor Mark Burns tweeted that DACA was unconstitutional. “Americans should be 1st,” he said.
Alt-right founder and white nationalist Richard Spencer tweeted that Trump’s reported move was a “great start.” “But ending #DACA becomes meaningless if it’s part of a deal for amnesty or immigration increase,” he said.
“If Trump decides to end DACA, it will be one of the ugliest and cruelest decisions ever made by a president in our modern history,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, tweeted. “Taking legal protections away from 800,000 young people raised in this country is absolutely counter to what we stand for as a nation.”
Hillary Clinton tweeted that there was “No time to waste – we’ve got to fight with everything we’ve got to #DefendDACA.”
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said there were more DACA recipients in California than in any other state.
“We stand with them. We have their backs. #HereToStay,” she tweeted, later adding “Congress MUST act to protect #DACA recipients. I’m ready to vote “YES” on the DREAM Act!”
Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken said the reported decision to end DACA was a disgrace and that he would fight to protect Dreamers.
“Young people affected by #DACA are American in every way except immigration status. @POTUS ending program is not who we should be as nation,” Franken tweeted.
Some Republicans have implored Trump in recent days to keep the program going as Congress works on a solution Dreamers — who in most cases know no other home than America.
Republican congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinenâ€ tweeted Sunday that if the reports were true, Congress must work immediately to pass a law protecting Dreamers.
“After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his “great heart,” @POTUS slams door on them. Some “heart”…,” she said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a radio interview Friday that he hoped Trump wouldn’t end the program but that he believed Congress needed to come up with a fix. His view was echoed by several Senate Republicans, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake.
Business leaders have also voiced their support for Dreamers.
Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted: “250 of my Apple coworkers are #Dreamers. I stand with them. They deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values.”
Cook is one of a group of business leaders who wrote to Trump in August calling on him to preserve the DACA program, with Dreamers “vital to the future of our companies and our economy.”
Other signatories included Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg.
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