Obama signed the executive order that created the program, better known as DACA, in 2012 after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, commonly known as the DREAM Act, failed to gain support in the U.S. Senate.
He said the decision Tuesday, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, was politically motivated.
“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Obama said. “They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.”
The DACA program allowed immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children to stay in the country on a temporary basis, provided they met certain criteria.
“To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong,” Obama said. “It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?”