Although President Trump has not yet managed to build his infamous wall or implement his notorious travel ban, his administration on Thursday took a significant step toward tightening immigration restrictions in the United States. The Trump administration reportedly ended protections for undocumented immigrant parents, protections that had been put in place during the Obama administration. As a result, millions of families may be vulnerable to separation at the hands of Trump's immigration policy.
According to The Hill, John Kelly, secretary of homeland security, rescinded the Obama administration's program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans — otherwise known as DAPA. Under DAPA, the Obama White House protected undocumented immigrants who had children of American citizenship. Oftentimes, these parents gave birth to their children in the United States, qualifying them for American citizenship, while the parents themselves remained undocumented.
By rescinding DAPA, the Trump administration has paved the way for more deportations. Without the protection for parents of American citizens, immigration officials can deport undocumented immigrants in a way that would split families apart. It's unclear how many undocumented parents of American citizens currently live in the United States, but earlier this year, The Los Angeles Times reported that some 9 million people are part of "mixed status" families, in which some members of the household may be documented in the United States, while other members are not. It's those "mixed status" families who stand to lose the most without DAPA protection.
At the same time that it pulled the plug on DAPA, the Trump administration reportedly left a similar immigration program untouched. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — also known as DACA — will remain in effect, according to a reported government fact sheet. Whereas DAPA protected undocumented parents of American citizens from deportation, DACA protects undocumented children who were brought to the United States in their youth from deportation, as long as they are enrolled in school or graduated and don't have a criminal background. The so-called DREAMers will reportedly be allowed to stay in the country under Trump's immigration policy, at least for now.
Interestingly, Thursday marked the fifth anniversary of DACA's announcement. According to the Pew Research Center, some 1.1 million undocumented immigrants are eligible for the DACA protection and more than 750,000 have used the program to file for work permits and deportation relief. DACA benefits typically must be renewed every two years, and many young people will require a renewal of benefits by the end of September later this year. Based on Thursday's announcement from the Trump administration, young immigrants may now face a much different future from their parents or relatives.