U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions formally announced the end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — an Obama-era executive action that shields young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.
"I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Sessions said Tuesday at a U.S. Justice Department news conference.
Session's said the policy was "inconsistent with the Constitution’s separation of powers."
He said Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has chosen to "initiate a wind-down process." He called on Congress to make legislation that is "right for the American people."
"All immigration policies should serve the interests of the people of the United States — lawful immigrant and native born alike," Sessions said.
Chancellor Carol Folt said the decision contrasts UNC's commitment to all members of the University's community in a statement.
"While we still do not know what the full effects on our campus will be, Carolina remains committed to welcoming students who enrolled in this program, and to fostering a respectful and inclusive environment where all students can live, study and work without fear," Folt said.
Moments after the announcement, the American Civil Liberties Union released a statement, calling it a "cruel day."
"There is no humane way to end DACA before having a permanent legislative fix in place," the statement said. "President Trump just threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families ... into fearful disarray ...."
President Donald Trump hinted at ending DACA early Tuesday morning. The tweet hinted Trump would end the policy but would first give Congress six months to replace DACA with legislation.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., issued a statement Tuesday, supporting Trump's decision. He said immigration policy should be set through legislation and not executive orders.
“In the next week, I’ll be introducing legislation that will provide a fair and rigorous path for undocumented children to earn legal status by requiring them to be employed, pursue higher education, or serve in our Armed Forces," Tillis said.
He called on Democrats to join Republicans in making a permanent, bipartisan solution.
Ricky Hurtado, executive director of the N.C. Scholars Latino Initiative and a UNC graduate, tweeted at Tillis asking him to pass a standalone "Dream Act" that doesn't hurt families.
"Terminating DACA is poor governance & cruel treatment of NCians," he tweeted.
N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein joined other state attorneys general in urging the president to maintain DACA in a July letter.
"The consequences of rescinding DACA would be severe, not just for the hundreds of thousands of young people who rely on the program — and for their employers, schools, universities and families—but for the country’s economy as a whole," the letter said.
In a statement, the attorney general's office said 800,000 young immigrants have been helped by DACA since its inception five years ago. North Carolina has nearly 50,000 "Dreamers" — the seventh most in the country.
“All across North Carolina, DACA is helping children meet their potential,” Stein's statement said. “When children meet their potential, we all benefit through innovation, economic activity, and stronger communities."
Folt, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost James Dean and Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, wrote a letter to the campus community in December affirming their commitment to UNC's nondiscrimination policy and diversity values.
University leadership said UNC has to comply with state and federal laws as a public university. They said students are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act in these cases.
"It also is important to know our UNC police department does not gather information about citizenship or immigration status, and only makes inquiries about individuals who are the subject of a felony criminal investigation," they said in the letter.
Carolina Legal Services does not assist undocumented students with concerns related to immigration law. Legal services will refer students to off-campus immigration attorneys.
Folt also joined over 600 college and university presidents in signing a statement of support of DACA.
UNC-system President Margaret Spellings published an op-ed in the Washington Post in February asking the Trump administration to not "break America's promise to 'Dreamers.'"
"My whole career, I’ve advocated for education as a civil right, the bedrock that underpins our promise that this is a land of opportunity for all," Spellings wrote. "Keeping that promise has been the work of generations, and DACA students are now a part of that story."
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