Obama: Trump immigration decision is 'cruel'

Former President Barack Obama calls President Donald Trump's decision to phase out the so-called DACA program "cruel'' and "self-defeating.''

The program has provided nearly 800,000 young immigrants a reprieve from deportation. The Trump administration announced Tuesday it's rescinding the program and leaving it to Congress to come up with an alternative.

Obama did not mention Trump by name in his statement but says a "shadow has been cast'' over some of the nation's best and brightest young people. He says targeting them is wrong "because they have done nothing wrong.''

Obama says it's up to members of Congress to act and he joins his voice with the majority of Americans who hopes Congress will step up.

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WHAT IS DACA?

DACA was created by President Barack Obama in 2012 after intense pressure from immigrant advocates who wanted protections for the young immigrants who were mostly raised in the U.S. but lacked legal status.

The program protects them from deportation — granting them a two-year reprieve that can be extended and by issuing them a work permit and a social security number.

DACA recipients must have no criminal record, proof they were brought to the U.S. before age 16 and be under 31 when the program was launched but at least 15 years old when applying.

The application cost is nearly $500 and permits must be renewed every two years. The application and renewal process take several weeks.

DACA does not give beneficiaries legal U.S. residency. Recipients get temporary reprieves from deportation and permission to temporarily work.

WHY DACA?

Frustration grew during the Obama administration over repeated failures to pass the "Dream Act,'' which would have provided a path to legal U.S. citizenship for the young immigrants who ended up becoming DACA beneficiaries and became known as "dreamers.''

The last major attempt to pass the legislation was in 2011.

Immigrant activists staged protests and participated in civil disobedience in an effort to push Obama to act after Congress did not pass legislation. DACA is different than the Dream Act because it does not provide a pathway to legal residency or citizenship.

WHY END DACA?

President Donald Trump was under pressure from several states that threatened to sue his administration if it did not end DACA.

They argued the order Obama issued creating the program was unconstitutional and that Congress should take charge of legislation dealing the issue.

Immigrant advocates, business leaders including the chief executives of Apple and Microsoft, clergy and many others put intense pressure on Trump to maintain the program but he decided to end it.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Young immigrants already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire.

If their permits expire before March, 5, 2018, they are eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they apply by Oct. 5.

If their permits expire beyond that March date, they will not be able to renew and could be subject to deportation when their permits expire.

People who miss the October deadline will be disqualified from renewing their permission to remain in the country and could face deportation, although the Trump administration has said it will not actively provide their information to immigration authorities.

It will be up to Congress to take up and pass legislation helping DACA beneficiaries. One bill introduced this year would provide a path to legal permanent residency.

Many DACA beneficiaries say they worry they will be forced to take lower-wage, under-the-table jobs and will be unable to pay for college or assist their families financially.