AAP President Fernando Stein, M.D., FAAP, called revocation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a "cruel setback for immigrant children, youth and families across the country," and is urging Congress to act.
Dr. Stein’s remarks come in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to end protections for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
“Our country is the only meaningful home these children — who are now young adults — have ever known,” Dr. Stein said in a statement. “As a result of today's decision, unless Congress intervenes, they will be thrust into the same fearful immigration status that all undocumented immigrants face under the Trump Administration's harmful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, where deportation is an everyday prospect.”
Established in 2012, the DACA program allows about 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children to stay and work in the country under two-year renewable permits.
“As they grew into young adults, these children have served our country in uniform, they have graduated from our colleges and universities, they have invested in our communities and they work in our cities and towns. They are valedictorians and entrepreneurs. One even sacrificed his life trying to save others during Hurricane Harvey,” Dr. Stein said.
Trump announced Tuesday he would rescind the program in six months, saying he believes it is unconstitutional and citing a lawsuit threatened by several states. As the program winds down, current permits still are valid and those expiring in the next six months are eligible for renewal, but the government will not accept new applications.
Trump said the delay will give Congress a chance to act, although in the past it has rejected similar protections.
“Many of these young immigrants have no real connection to their country of origin and no family anywhere but in the United States,” Dr. Stein said. “With today's announcement, more families risk being torn apart under the looming threat of deportation and expiring deadline of DACA, exacerbating the fear, anxiety and discrimination they have already faced over the last eight months.”
The Academy will continue to advocate for Congress to make the DACA protections permanent.
“Our 66,000 pediatrician, pediatric medical subspecialist and pediatric surgical specialist members stand with the 800,000 young immigrants facing an uncertain future,” Dr. Stein said. “We will continue to fight for their right to be here until we see policy that enables them to stay.”