LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) - The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will wind down program protecting young immigrants from deportation.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said DACA, or Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals, will be rescinded in six months unless Congress can come up with a plan.
Calling the program an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch", Sessions said the Trump administration is urging Congress to find an alternate way to protect young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
Sessions says the U.S. needs to have a lawful immigration that "serves the national interest" and the U.S. cannot admit everyone who wants to come to the country.
Without the program, roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived illegally as children could be subject to deportation.
Dreamers make up a significant part of our workforce. CBS2's Jeff Nguyen reports from downtown L.A. with that part of the story.
In order to apply for DACA, immigrants had to be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012. The average age of DACA recipients is about 26 years old.
California has roughly 200,000 DACA recipients - nearly twice as many as Texas, the state with the second highest number.
Responding via social media, former President Barack Obama said, To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong."
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the move "cruel" and said it "threatens to tear families apart, put our economy at risk, and will do nothing to unify America or make us more secure."
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) said DACA recipients "make our nation strong and represent the best of America" and rescinding the program "undermines our nation's values and is a cruel betrayal" of so-called "Dreamers", those who have been protected under DACA.
In response to the administration announcement, a small group of protesters gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall in before marching to the Hall of Justice and the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building.
Ivan Caja said he was brought to the United States when he was 9 months old, and he is now 25.
"This was just a reminder of how little respect they have. They acknowledge that we are a big part of the work force, whether
they exploit us or not, but then to go and take away a program that wasn't doing any harm," said Caja, who is also a co-founder of the nonprofit UndocuMedia. "It felt like a big slap in the face."
About 100 demostrators rallied outside Rep. Mimi Walters' office in Irvine even as the Republican congresswoman joined many other
political leaders from her party in calling on a bipartisan legislative fix to immigration policy.
"DACA, while well-intentioned, was an unconstitutional abuse of executive power," Walters said. "Our nation and our government cannot function unless we uphold the Constitution and the rule of law."
The protest was organized by the Korean Resource Center, which supports a bipartisan immigration bill sponsored by
Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.
"We are here at Congresswoman Mimi Walters' office to demand that she denounce this rescinding of DACA and to support her constituents, who include many immigrants," said Ashley Yu of the Korean Resource Center.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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